Getting to know BREW: Q&A with Mike Garrett from Brewhouse Twelve and Amazon's Beer Masters
Updated: Aug 9
If you're a beer enthusiast and you have an Amazon Prime account, you should watch Beer Masters, hosted by 'singer' and publican James Blunt, and beer sommelier and brewer Jaega Wise. The show provides great entertainment for novices and experts alike.
Beer Masters follows five teams of amateur brewers from the UK and Europe as they take on several brewing challenges in order to be crowned Europe's best amateur brewer.
One homebrew per episode is awarded 'gold' and a place in the final where an elite panel of judges, from well known breweries, then choose the best overall beer. The winning beer is then brewed at Camden Town Brewery and sold on Beerhawk.co.uk.
Mike and his brewing partner Rich represented the UK, taking on France, Belgium, Holland and Italy.
Many challenges take the brewers out of their comfort zone, tasking them to brew unfamiliar styles, choosing suitable glassware, designing beer labels, and even think about how they would market their brews.
We caught up with Mike Garrett, now part of newly launched Brew House Twelve Brewery to ask him about his experience on the show and what's coming next for him after his appearance on TV.
Amazon's Beer Masters
Q. How did you become involved in the Beer Masters show?
Entering the Beer Masters competition was a complete accident. I had finished brewing for the day and I was sat in the garden looking at social media. Someone had posted an advert looking for home brewers/small breweries to be in a television show.
I had a look at the pages of questions and before you knew it, I had sent the application form off. I then I had to explain to Richard, my partner in the programme what I had done in his name!
Q. What can you tell me about your experience on the show?
It was a fascinating experience being part of the show - meeting amazing people and gaining a little insight on how these shows are put together, from the first meetings through to appearing on screen. (There is a lot more going on than you ever see on screen.)
Q. What did you take away from being on the show?
The biggest thing I took away from the who process is that are loads of us brewers out there and that we love meting up, talking about brewing & drinking beer.
Q. Of all the challenges from the show, which did you enjoy the most/least and why?
The challenge I least enjoyed was the challenge from the first show. This was to brew a beer incorporating two different styles and using a local influence/ingredients. Poole is a fabulous place but with few items that are distinctly Dorset which caused me a lot of sleepless nights.
The final recipe, Dorset apple cake red IPA pilsner ended up OK but it was only the first attempt. With a little more time and experimentation, I think I could make this into a good session beer so will be looking to refine it in the coming months.
The most enjoyable challenge was the Strong Belgian/Barley wine challenge (episode 4). This might have been influenced by the fact that Grand Prestige is such a good beer & I was privileged to meet the head brewer. Hearing positive comments about your brew from an expert in their field may have added to the fun of this show.
Q. What inspired you into home brewing?
Like many people I tried homebrewing when I was younger, as a cheap way to have beer. I made some pretty awful versions from kits so soon stopped. This wasn’t the fault of the kits, more my lack of knowledge of the brewing process.
I started again 3 or 4 years ago whilst I was planning what I would do with my time after I had retired from the Fire Service. This time I took my time learning about brewing, speaking to the owners of my local home brew shop, watching endless videos & reading some of the entry level books – all of which paid off when I started again with brew 001 – again from a kit but with more success.
Q. Do you have any advice for new home brewers?
The best bit of advice I could give anyone starting homebrewing is get the fermentation right. If you’ve bought a kit, check that the yeast has best before date. If it doesn’t have a date, or the date is passed, throw the yeast away and buy a new packet from your local homebrew shop.
Once pitched (added to the brew) the yeast will perform at its best if you keep it at its optimum temperature (for that type of yeast) which can be a challenge as temperature fluctuate quite a bit over a 24 hour period.
Q. What kind of brewing equipment do you use and what are the limitations on what you brew?
I have just upgraded my brewing equipment to a 200 litre three vessel system from Powell brewing. Before that I had been brewing with a two 30l Grainfather’s and a 50l Brewdevil from angel home brew. These are both very good machines. The Grainfather has more controllability and has a very good recipe app but costs a lot more than the Brewdevil.
These systems allow me to brew anything – which provides a lot of flexibility for trying new things. In fact, I will be keeping the Grainfather for when I am developing new recipes then scaling up the successes into the larger system when I happy with it.
I’ve not used or researched much about the pinter or minibrew equipment but to my mind anything that gets someone into homebrewing without the failed brews of yesteryear is good thing. But be warned.. brewing good beer is addictive so you may need to move onto larger kits as you learn more & want to branch out.
Q. What can you tell me about Brewhouse Twelve and what you have planned for 2022?
Brewhouse Twelve was launched with my family in January this year with the plan to take my home brewing onto a larger commercial footing. We have been supplying draft beer to our local rugby club and a local bar for a while.
We also have a couple of outlets selling our beer in bottles and once I get to grips with my new canning machine, we will be looking at other opportunities, locally and further afield.
Mike's Top Tipples
Favourite Beer – Hertog Jan – Grand Prestige https www.hertogjan.nl/ This is as a result of the beer Masters tasting. Before that it had been Jaipur from Thornbridge Brewery for many years.
Favourite Bar – Belgium and Blues Bournemouth. www.belgiumandblues.co.uk/ @belgiumandbluesbournemouth
Favourite Brewery – Thornbridge https://thornbridgebrewery.co.uk/
Favourite Style – This changes on quite a regular basis. At the moment I’m exploring sour beers but as I rule, I tend to prefer higher strength beers.
Favourite snack with beer – Single malt whisky 😊
Watch all five episodes from the Beer Master series on Amazon Prime now. You can also purchase the Show's Winning Beer from Amazon.co.uk.