Home-brewed beer with a head-spinning 16% alcohol content wins coveted award 

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Home-brewed beer with a head-spinning 16% alcohol content wins coveted award

  • The stout called Doggy In The Woods won the home-brew competition
  • Stephen Follard created the beer and described it as ‘potent’ 
  • His tipple is the strongest beer ever to win one of the Camra awards 
  • Took up home brewing five years after becoming bored of local pub offerings 

At a head-spinning 16 per cent alcohol by volume, it is more potent than most wines.

But a stout called Doggy In The Woods has been named winner of the first home-brew competition by beer experts.

Stephen Folland’s creation bowled over judges at the Campaign For Real Ale (Camra) who were keen to tap into the resurgence of home brewing that began during Covid lockdowns. His tipple is the strongest beer ever to win one of the group’s coveted awards.

Stephen Folland’s creation, pictured, bowled over judges at the Campaign For Real Ale (Camra) who were keen to tap into the resurgence of home brewing that began during Covid lockdowns. His tipple is the strongest beer ever to win one of the group’s coveted awards

Stephen Folland’s creation, pictured, bowled over judges at the Campaign For Real Ale (Camra) who were keen to tap into the resurgence of home brewing that began during Covid lockdowns. His tipple is the strongest beer ever to win one of the group’s coveted awards

Its creator described it as ‘potent’, warning: ‘It comes in 33cl bottles and you have it much like you would a brandy or whisky – you drink a bottle over a few days.

‘It is certainly not a quaffing beer. I have not tried to quaff it, but I would imagine it would be quite messy.’

Mr Folland, 59, from Great Shefford, Berkshire, who works as an engineer for an online marketing firm, took up home brewing five years ago after getting bored with the beer on offer at his local pubs.

He does not sell his beer, but instead gives it away to friends, takes it to parties or enjoys it at home with his wife Donna and his two grown-up daughters, who are big fans of his hobby. His prize for beating the 170 other entries – along with the bragging rights – is to have his stout produced commercially by the Brewhouse & Kitchen microbrewery in Worthing, West Sussex.

Doggy In The Woods was the first beer Mr Folland brewed, and it evolved over time. ‘Originally it had a very strong alcohol taste,’ he said. ‘It was also bitter – it would not have won an award then. Over the months the alcohol flavour merges with the other flavours, like cocoa, and it gets less bitter. Now you have the subtle flavour of honey coming through.’

When Mr Folland made his first batch he could not get hold of the chunks of bourbon barrels he needed to help flavour it. So instead he foraged wood from a fallen oak tree, dried it out, barbecued it and soaked it in Jack Daniel’s whiskey to create his unique flavour. ‘The wood was half of the name, which people always ask me about,’ Mr Folland said. ‘The other half came when I was staring at my computer trying to come up with a name – and the screen saver was my dog, who had died a few years before.’

Home brewing had its heyday in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s, but it took off again during lockdowns and is becoming increasingly popular amid the cost-of-living crisis (stock image)

Home brewing had its heyday in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s, but it took off again during lockdowns and is becoming increasingly popular amid the cost-of-living crisis (stock image)

Mr Folland named his home brewery Bigfoot – ‘because my wife has big feet’. The image on the bottle is a picture of her foot as she was diving off a boat in Barbados on their 25th wedding anniversary.

Home brewing had its heyday in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s, but it took off again during lockdowns and is becoming increasingly popular amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Beer writer Laura Hadland, who helped judge the contest, said the standard was ‘really high’ and urged others to try home brewing. ‘It will save you money if you get good at brewing beer, even if you start from scratch,’ she said.

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