Big Ed brews up a winner

Ed Thatcher sells his craft ale kits at Netheredge Farmers' Market
Ed Thatcher sells his craft ale kits at Netheredge Farmers' Market

Ed Thatcher discovered a taste for real ale during his university days – and was so determined to brew his own, that he turned his kitchen into a micro brewery, in pursuit of the perfect recipe.

Some years on, Ed has honed his method and is ready to share it with other aficionados via his craft ale home brew kits, on sale for the first time at last week’s Netheredge Farmers’ Market.

It all started with university home brew, perked up with hops begged from a nearby brewery. Ed then got a job at the Fat Cat, Kelham Island, developing his interest and his expertise.

“ I can still clearly remember my sense of awe on tasting one particular beer; it was strong, delicious and intoxicating!” he says.

As a new dad, his next step was home brewing, but there wasn’t room for a traditional set-up, so he asked his local specialist shop whether he could make smaller quantities on the stove in his kitchen.

“The chap working there basically told me there was no point in even trying… It was like a red rag to a bull!”

Ed researched the science, drawing on ideas from Australia and the US, combining traditional methods with modern materials: “The result was a process that retains the best of brewing heritage while being as efficient, quick and ecologically friendly as possible,” he says.

His first brew using the system was a well-hopped IPA – which he took into the local home brew shop for his nemesis to try: “I left it with him. On going back some weeks later, it was extremely gratifying to see how much it pained him to tell me that he felt it was one of the best five beers he’d ever drunk!”

Ed’s process dispenses with the need for force-cooling the hot wort, making it easier, quicker, cheaper and more eco-friendly.

Big Ed’s Craft Ale Kits, ingredients and accessories are now available from some farmers’ markets or from the website: Bid Ed’s Craft Ale Kits