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Warm Up Your Winter With a Wild Brandy

by Nick Moyle and Richard Hood

If you’re a fan of good port but crave something darker, boozier and more intense, a simple blackberry and brandy infusion is the drink for you. But if you want to crank the intensity up to maximum, this liqueur will send you wild with excitement. Just as the deep, mellow richness of the blackberries seduces your taste buds, along comes a sturdy slap of tart elderberry goodness. Compared to our wild brandy liqueur, port is for wimps.

Ingredients:
300g/10½oz/2½ cups blackberries
200g/7oz/1¼ cups elderberries
220g/7¾oz/1 cup white sugar
1 x 70cl bottle of brandy

Method:Recipe_WildBrandy

  • Pick the fattest, ripest, juiciest blackberries and elderberries you can find. The blackberries can be simply washed and put in a large jar, but you’ll need to remove the elderberries from their stalks before they join them. Elderberries have a habit of ripening at different times on the same head, so first pick off any young green or old shrivelled berries and discard them. The easiest way to strip the ripe fruit from the stalks is with fingers, but if you don’t want your hands to look like you’ve just come from a production of Sweeney Todd, flick them off by dragging them through the tines of a fork.
  • Add the sugar and brandy to the jar with the fruit, then firmly seal the lid and give the jar a vigorous shake.
  • In order to preserve the luxuriously deep colour of your drink, keep the jar somewhere cool and dark. Shake the jar daily until the sugar has dissolved, and continue to agitate it every week or two throughout the infusion time.
  • This is definitely a drink not to be rushed, so try to hold out for 3 months before bottling. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve or mesh – gently press the fruit to remove the last drop of goodness without getting too heavy-handed and making a mess. Small particles of fruit are likely to be drifting through your bottled liquid, although it will be so dark they may not be obvious. If you want to remove these, strain for a second time through coffee filter paper.
  • Wild brandy benefits from ageing in the bottles more than most liqueurs, so it’s well worth being patient to allow the flavours time to mellow. If you’re intending to drink it straight after bottling, you may wish to add a bit more sugar to smooth out the edges.

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Nick Moyle and Richard Hood
Brew It Yourself
£14.99, Available from Nourish Books

Podcast/ Conversation with Nick Moyle and Richard Hood, authors of Brew It Yourself

Steve Nobel interviews Nick Moyle and Richard Hood, authors of Brew It Yourself.
Follow Watkins Media on SoundCloud and listen to the latest interviews and talks.

Listen to this free podcast with authors Nick Moyle and Richard Hood on their book Brew It Yourself. Interview by Steve Nobel for Watkins Media.

Taking their two great loves – alcohol and gardening – they provide recipe inspiration for people to turn a surplus harvest, a visit to a fruit farm or a delivery from the supermarket into a fantastic variety of drinks. Covering wines, beers and ciders, as well as more fancy infused liquors, sparkling drinks and some true curios.

Brew It Yourself outlines the basic approaches to each drink’s method of production, debunking myths, celebrating experimentation and taking the fear out of fermentation. There really is no reason not to brew it yourself.

In this podcast you will hear them speak on:
•Why should you bother brewing it yourself
•How to get started and the costs involved
•Buying ingredients and foraging
•The vast range of beverages you can make

Meet Nick Moyle and Richard Hood

Nick Moyle and Richard Hood both grew up during the UK home-brew boom of the 1970s and 80s, with parents whofeat image regularly made their own drinks from home-grown produce, enlisting their help. This fired up a life-long obsession for the art of brewing and in 2008 they built their own cider press and have been producing cider for local pubs, beer festivals and deserving friends ever since. They started their Two Thirsty Gardeners website in 2012, which inspires thousands of loyal followers.

Can you describe your book in few words? What should the reader expect from it?
A huge range of easy to make booze recipes.
The reader should expect inspiration and advice on how to turn every day ingredients into tasty alcoholic drinks – from quality beers, ciders and wines to curious international concoctions and crafty cocktails.

When did your passion for brewing begin?
We both grew up in the 1970s when the last home brew boom was taking place and became mesmerised by the steady trickle of gas bubbling through an airlock, knowing that one day demijohns full of murky liquid would eventually be transformed into bright, clear drinks. We both moved to Bath, surrounded by Somerset apples, so it wasn’t long before we were dusting down our parents demijohns and filling them with pressed apple juice to turn into cider.

How did you meet and how Two Thirsty Gardeners came about?
We met at university in Coventry and, coincidentally, both ended up working in Bath. After making those first batches of cider Rich acquired an allotment so we thought it would be fun to plant our own apple trees and see if we could grow anything else to turn into booze. We then decided to chronicle our digging and swigging adventures on a website.

What was the biggest challenge in writing Brew it Yourself?
Some wines take quite a while to be ready, and are based on seasonal ingredients, so we had to try out lots of recipes each season and weren’t able to select the best ones until the following year… so it was quite a while before we knew exactly which recipes would make it into the book. We’re graphic designers by trade so we also designed the book and took all the photographs – deadline was a blur of writing, tasting, designing and taking pictures

What inspires you in what you do?
Rich is quite a perfectionist with his recipes, so has made lots of ciders, trying to get the recipe and combination of apples and other ingredients as perfect as possible. Nick is much more inspired by discovering new drinks and experimentation. I guess that combination works well.

What are some of the perks in your job?
We wish brewing and gardening were full time jobs! At the moment, it’s all done in our spare time – although we’re both self employed so we’re lucky that we can find a bit more spare time than most people. It’s always great when we get to meet experts in one particular craft, from gin makers to brewers and specialist gardeners. Their dedication to their craft inspires us.

What was the first recipe that you mastered?
Cider, although Rich would probably say you never really master cider. One of the first recipes we put on the website, and our most popular, is rhubarb wine. We’re currently growing seven different varieties of rhubarb to see if they produce different results.

What is the best recipe to get started?
Making liqueurs couldn’t be easier – it simply involved dropping some ingredients into a spirit, with sugar, and allowing them to infuse. We’ve also got a really cheap and easy beer recipe for anyone wanting to get started brewing, and the rhubarb wine recipe is a great one for first time wine makers. For something a little different there’s a really refreshing sparkling drink from Mexico called ‘tepache’ that involves quickly fermenting pineapple rind.

What is your typical day like?
Working on the day job, squeezing in recipes and writing whenever we can.

Can you tell us 3 hacks for a successful drinks making?
In Autumn, make a really easy rosehip syrup and plunge it into cocktails or cider; Drop an edible flower – borage being our favourite – into your ice cube tray before freezing; Chuck a liquorice stick into stout while brewing – it’ll give you a even richer, tastier beer.

1002_original1-300x388 Nick Moyle and Richard Hood
Brew It Yourself
ISBN: 9781848992276
Available in July 2015

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Best Summer Harvests to Turn into Drinks

-by Nick Moyle and Richard Hood

The long, hot days of summer (yes, both of them) are when the garden is usually enjoyed at its best. We like nothing better than lolling around on the lawn after a hard day hoeing with a cool glass of home made beer, cider or fancy cocktail, contemplating what to brew next. Happily there are plenty of potential ingredients ready for picking and turning into booze. Here are five of our favourites…

Mint
Few things say summer more than sticking a sprig of mint into a glass of booze and topping it up with ice. From a white wine spritzer to an ice cold sangria or even a heady, appley cider, a fragrant green leaf or two adds an unmatchable fresh twist to drinks. We, however, like to turn a simple twist into a full on minty boogie, which is why you’ll often see us reaching for the rum to mix up a mint packed mojito. But we don’t stop there. Our home made crème de menthe kicks into touch any bright green supermarket versions you may have encountered, and we even turn great handfuls of the stuff into a fantastically fresh mint wine.

Raspberries
No end of English folk are quick to declare the strawberry summer’s greatest fruit. And while it does a fine job of adding some fruity sophistication to a glass of Pimm’s, it lacks the versatility of our favourite berry, the raspberry. Being popular among the good people of Scotland you won’t be surprised to hear that it makes a fine whisky based liqueur. A vodka spirited raspberry liqueur is almost as impressive and a shot of the vibrant red liquid into a glass of fizzy wine makes a delicious ‘Kir Imperial’ – a redder alternative to posh blackcurrant cocktail Kir Royale. Raspberries are also our favourite fruit to add to beer recipes, with malty ales and crisp wheat beers all getting their berry bonuses.

Flowers
Elderflowers are out en masse as spring gives way to summer, encouraging lots of people to have a go at the only alcoholic fermentation they’ll make all year – a sparkling drink often referred as ‘elderflower champagne’. But there’s no reason to stop there: a similar amount of effort (but longer waiting time) can reward you with a much boozier elderflower wine; or an elderflower liqueur (like St Germain) can be made by soaking the flowers in sweetened vodka. If you’ve already missed elderflower season, fear not, because there are lots more edible summer blooms that can be used for booze. Fancy some floral fizz? Give lavender a go. Want a winning summer wine? Try red clover. Got a penchant for a sweet, peppery aperitif? Then nasturtium liqueur could be right for you.

Beetroot
Suggest to wine connoisseurs that you can make a decent bottle of plonk out of muddy root vegetables and they’ll laugh you out of the wine cellar. But, mud aside, there’s a lot to be said for fermenting a rooty harvest – mainly the high sugar content and unique sweet flavours. We have often turned to carrots and parsnips for our demijohn antics, but perhaps the most interesting veg for beginners – on account of its robust, red colouring – is beetroot. Use it as a wine flavour on its own, or tickle it up a notch with a few carefully selected spices, and you’ll not regret it. What’s more, beetroot can also be fermented to make a magnificent Eastern European tipple: kvass. Na zdorovie!

Chillis
You may think the last thing anyone needs during the hottest days of the year is the red raw heat of a freshly picked chilli bombing your glass of cold booze. But it’s time to think again. A blast of chilli flame prior to a cooling sip of cocktail is a marvellous thing – as anyone who has lined a margarita glass with chilli, salt and lime can testify. Another of our favourite summer drinks to get the hot rim treatment is Mexican ‘tepache’ – a quick and easy fermented drink made from pineapple. Bloody Mary fans should try infusing a chilli or two in vodka before plunging it into tomato juice, and anyone having a go at some home made ginger beer might like to follow Rich’s lead: he adds Scotch bonnets to the mix for an extra fearsome fizz.Brew It Yourself Single Page Hi Res-7

About the Authors: Nick Moyle and Richard Hood both grew up during the UK home-brew boom of the 1970s and 80s, with parents who regularly made their own drinks from home-grown produce, enlisting their help. This fired up a life-long obsession for the art of brewing and in 2008 they built their own cider press and have been producing cider for local pubs, beer festivals and deserving friends ever since. They started their Two Thirsty Gardeners website in 2012, which inspires thousands of loyal followers.

1002_original1-300x388  Nick Moyle and Richard Hood
Brew It Yourself
  ISBN: 9781848992276
  Available in July 2015

Sign up for our newsletter to get our new articles straight to your inbox every month.

Best Spring Harvests to Turn into Drinks

-by Nick Moyle and Richard Hood

Spring, at long last, has started warming up the land, giving us longer days in the sun and set off some vigorous plant growth, meaning we’re able to head out into the garden and wild hedgerows in search of things to turn into booze. There may not be the wide choice of ingredients that summer and autumn provide, but there are still plenty of flavours available to make a varied array of drinks. Here are our five favourite spring harvests.

wineRhubarb
One of the first edible plants to announce itself on the allotment is rhubarb, a veg that tastes like no other and is adept at seeing off the coldest winters, coming back bigger and stronger every year. Rhubarb wine was one of the first drinks we made from a home grown harvest and our easy recipe has inspired many fellow allotmenteers to have their first dabble with a demijohn. Rhubarb is also a great ingredient for infusing in vodka and sweetened with sugar to make a delicious liqueur, either on its own or paired with other flavours such as orange or ginger. We’ve even found room for it in a home brewed beer, adding a slightly sour, fruity tang to a light, malty ale (don’t believe it works? Then try this). Such is our reverence for the rhubarb we’re currently growing six different varieties to see which one makes the best booze.

Nettles
If nettles didn’t have a habit of growing where they’re not wanted and blighting bare flesh with irritating stings, they would be considered a vegetable treasure. Used like spinach the leaves have a superbly healthy flavour making them a great free treat for the kitchen – nettle risotto is one of our favourites. A nettle harvest can also be used for numerous drinks, so it’s well worth stepping out with a pair of rubber gloves to grab a load. Nettle wine is said to be rather good, although we’ve yet to try this ourselves, instead opting to turn it into a light, refreshing beer. Leaves can be used to flavour regular ales as an alternative to hops, but our preference is for a nettle only concoction, quickly fermented along similar lines to traditional ginger beer and low in alcohol. It has a surprisingly zesty flavour, along with some earthier notes, that make it an ice cold treat to accompany the first barbeque of the year.

Dandelions
Anything nettles can do, dandelions would claim to do better. Also used as a hop substitute they provide a distinctive bitterness to ales and can be used solo for a beer Brew It Yourself Single Page Hi Res-69similar to that made by nettles – with leaves, roots and flowers all being plunged into the brewing pot. We like to give this particular brew a fruity overhaul by adding oranges, lemons and grapefruit to the recipe – a zesty delight that makes a spot of weeding all the more worthwhile. The sunny, yellow flowers of the dandelion can also be used to make another of our favourite country wines that, according to tradition, should be started on St George’s day. If you don’t mind getting yellow stained fingers then fill a bag with flowers and follow the simple recipe on our website.

Tree leaves
It may sound strange to the brew-it-yourself novice, but the young leaves of several trees can be used to flavour alcoholic beverages. Leaves tend to bring slightly nutty notes to drinks, enabling us to expand our flavour repertoire in new and unusual directions. So far we’ve had most success with leaves from the mighty oak, the ubiquitous beech and the harder to track down walnut (Nick is lucky enough to have a few ancient walnut trees growing in his neighbouring park). We’ve used both young and old oak leaves for wine – the older the leaf, the nuttier the flavour – and they make for an intoxicatingly quaffable drink. We soak our beech leaves in various spirits for some unique infusions and liqueurs – similar in style to a ‘noyeaux’, they’re great for delivering a nutty punch to cocktails. Walnut leaves are an ingredient in some ancient mead recipes, the heady wine-like tipple made from fermented honey, and give the finished drink a robust, herby flavour. We made a walnut leaf mead two years ago – it’s slow maturation means it should be ready for us to sample any time now.

Rosemary
Although available all year round, rosemary starts to put on rapid growth in spring, making it at its flavoursome best. Besides being an herby foil for roast lamb, it’s also a useful bittering ingredient in booze. It has found its way into many fortified wines, spirit infusions and cocktails but it’s beer we think it suits best. This month we’re crossing the county border from Somerset to Gloucestershire to collaborate with an exciting new brewery on our own rosemary and coriander beer, featuring herbs and hops grown in the garden. We’re hoping to hang on to enough bottles to see us through to summer.

Brew It Yourself Single Page Hi Res-7

Nick Moyle and Richard Hood

About the Authors: Nick Moyle and Richard Hood both grew up during the UK home-brew boom of the 1970s and 80s, with parents who regularly made their own drinks from home-grown produce, enlisting their help. This fired up a life-long obsession for the art of brewing and in 2008 they built their own cider press and have been producing cider for local pubs, beer festivals and deserving friends ever since. They started their Two Thirsty Gardeners website in 2012, which inspires thousands of loyal followers.

 

1002_original1-300x388

  Nick Moyle and Richard Hood
  Brew It Yourself
  ISBN: 9781848992276
  Available in July 2015

Sign up for our newsletter to get our new articles straight to your inbox every month.