Welcome to the Balmy Juice Brewing blog. I’m Tom and in these pages you’ll find a selection of some of my favourite beer recipes alongside more in-depth articles covering topics that interest me in brewing science.
Beer in one form or another has been a constant feature of human civilisation throughout history. Considering it’s delicious, this hardly seems surprising but what I do find astonishing is that despite being a truly ancient beverage, the definition of what constitutes a beer remains extraordinarily broad. Fortunately this now means that as brewers we’re in an incredibly privileged position. When designing a beer we can choose from an enormously diverse range of ingredients, techniques and microorganisms, as well as having a huge amount of creative freedom to explore different combinations. There’s a spirit of eclectic experimentation in brewing – a stark contrast to many of the other ubiquitous libations that occupy our glasses and fundamentally why I find it so interesting and exciting. Not every idea works out the way you expect of course but it’s always fun to give things a try.
I also enjoy the more technical side of the craft. I’m always looking to add to my knowledge and where I can, refine my skills and techniques. Fortunately brewing happens to be a very scientific discipline, with well over a century of academic research to pore over. As someone that likes to understand the concepts behind what they’re doing this is a real godsend. Sometimes however, in a field as old as this one, it can be hard to tell if a method is informed by science, tradition or an amalgamation of the two. In my more scholarly posts I try to provide detailed research to answer a question or make more sense of a subject, usually one I’m struggling with. Where possible I’ll give references or point out the scarcity of information. Since completing my MSc in Brewing and Distilling I’ve also made my thesis on wort souring with lactic acid bacteria available here.
My hope with this blog is to provide some interesting recipe ideas, share what I learn, continue to improve as a brewer and have fun. I currently live in Edinburgh, Scotland. Feel free to contact me about anything beer related.
Infrequently asked questions
Q: What is “balmy juice” exactly?
A: Beer! I took the name from one of the more sublime pieces of propaganda, Beer Street and Gin Lane produced by William Hogarth in 1751.
They’re separate prints designed to be viewed alongside each other, Gin Lane almost certainly being the better known of the two. It depicts the absolute chaos of a street destroyed by gin addiction, in contrast to Beer Street, which shows an idyllic scene strongly advocating the many merits of drinking beer. Both images were also accompanied by verses written by Rev. James Townley. The second verse of Beer Street reads:
Labour and Art upheld by Thee
We quaff Thy balmy Juice with Glee
And Water leave to France.
Q: What equipment are you brewing with?
A: Having lived in flats since I first started brewing, I’ve become adept at squeezing equipment into every nook and cranny I can find. I’ve gradually moved from BIAB to electric brewing and since bringing the milling in-house have loved every minute of it. I use a concial fermenter mainly for top-cropping yeast but also if i’m dry hopping a lot, while the carboys are generally reserved for sour/brett brews.