Craft your own ale at Bison Beer Brew School

By Dave Streeter

Team 'sampling' at The Fish Bowl - Images by David Streeter and Lizzie Lower

Finally, after years banished to beardy old farts corner, I can now admit to liking Ale without fear of being labelled a beer nerd!

Craft Ales are dead trendy now, with a lip-smacking array available from the likes of the Bison Beer Craft House in East St, Brighton, where you’ve got a massive choice of bottled ales, plus a selection on tap, to take-away in 1.9 Litre (no tittering at the back please!) Growlers.

[two_third]Bison Beer also now run a half-day Brew School, every Saturday opposite the shop in the Fish Bowl pub, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first to try it out.

They’ve teamed up with London-based Home Brew Depot, who’ll get you hands-on from the start as, unlike other brewery tours I’ve been on, you’re doing the brewing!

And not kept waiting until the end to sample the goods either, with welcoming chilled ale on arrival. That’s my kind of school![/two_third]


For starters you get a little history; the basis of all ales is Pale Malt apparently, with differences in flavour being the mix of any other malts and hops added in the process, to give a more ‘Hoppy’ or ‘Bitter’ note.

Why is it called IPA? Well these ales were originally formulated to last longer than the normal beer of the day on the Indian trade voyages, hence the term Indian Pale Ale.

We started by adding the liquor (that’s treated water to non-Master Brewers!) to the malted hops and then after a gentle stir letting it ‘steep’ for one hour in a Mash Tun, allowing ampletime for a tasty lunch and more ale ‘sampling’, including my favourite – See Side APA.


[two_third_last]You then ‘sparge’ your ‘wort’ (less painful that it sounds!) where you add heated water to the mixture, re-running it through the mix several times to extract as much flavour as possible.

This liquor, or Sweet Wort, is then drained off to be heated up with a few extra hops being added at ‘flame out’ to add a more hoppy aroma, after which it’s rapidly cooled down, then finally yeast added.

There were two teams, my lot made a darker Gentleman’s Porter (which we cheekily renamed ‘Gentleman Caller’) and the other team made a Bowler Hat Pale Ale.[/two_third_last] Each batch was split up into five litre containers to take home to ferment and ready to drink in three weeks.

At a tad under £90, including a tasty lunch and lots of ales to sample, it’s a real treat for any craft ale lover, and if you’re inspired to brew your own afterwards (as a lot of us were) the nice chaps at can help supply all the items required to craft an individual ale to suit your taste buds to perfection; plus of course you’ll also reduce the cost of your beer drinking by huge a margin. I’ll certainly drink to that! And there’s always a Growler to fall back on at Bison Beer if not.

Check out or for more information.

Bison Beer Brew School
Price: £89.99 includes lunch and beer tasting
Where: The Fishbowl Pub, 74 East Street, Brighton, BN1 1HQ
When: Every Saturday from April 18th, 12pm-5pm