The home of a home brew enthusiast is not an ordinary one. It is a journey into a hobby which has a tendency to take over the whole house. If you use the bathroom and find the bath full of demi-johns – the ‘wine to be’ fermenting away inside – you know you’re in the home of a serious enthusiast.
The holidays taken by these people are ruled by the fruit bearing season. At certain times, all visitors to their home are required to take off their shoes and socks and roll up their trouser legs, in order to crush the fruit. Door to door salesmen be warned – it’s all hands (or in this case feet) on deck (or in a bucket).
And don’t think you’re any safer visiting in winter. If you do, make sure you keep an eye on your jumper, otherwise a demi-john could be wearing it by the time you leave.
If you are a youngster, you should be worried if your parents want to take you for a Sunday afternoon stroll. If you are told to wear comfortable shoes and carry an empty ice cream container with you, you won’t be going to play on the swings. You’ll also need the ability to crawl through small gaps in the blackberry bushes (as the best berries are always in the hardest to reach places), and carry home your own body weight in fruit.
While the home brewer can’t make wine out of water alone, they can make it out of pretty much anything else. This can lead to some interesting aromas, which linger around the house a lot longer than the wine which results. A friend remembers one particularly potent summer when her mother made a huge batch of banana skin wine. It stunk the house out and the windows were open for weeks… but the resulting wine, I’m told, was very nice indeed.
You can also tell a serious home brewer by taking a look in their freezer. My friend’s mum has a chest freezer packed full of nothing but fruit. She is well known for her home made wine in the local area, and farmers, greengrocers and even people with fruit trees in their gardens are always giving her their leftover fruit to make wine with. She makes it, and they get a few bottles of wine back in return.
So the next time you visit a house and you can hear gurgling coming from the airing cupboard, don’t assume it’s the plumbing. You could well open the door and find a demi-john wearing a Postman Pat tee shirt.
It’s all in a day’s work for a home brewer.