Reading University Real Ale and Cider Society decided to make some of their own beer; I personally wasn't involved, but I managed to clear my schedule to make sure I tried some!
After getting permission to brew in, of all places, the University Chaplain's House, January was the time to taste these homebrews. RURACS made two brews. The first was a bitter using a starter pack and mix from Woodforde's, but interestingly it was decided to put in a whole bunch of fresh corriander leaves and stalks in the mix ( Picture 2).
The corriander gave it a zesty punch, with lots of citrus notes and an unusual flavour. For my taste, it was a bit uninspiring but a lot of people at the Session enjoyed it immensely. It was delightfully different from your normal bitter, and thus some of us unofficially christened it 'Zing Ding Bitter' (Zing from the Corriander, Ding being a colloquial term for Reading)!
The other home-brew we enjoyed was a London Porter (Picture 1). We didn't come up with any good names for it, but we should have because it tasted excellent. It was a beautifully dark black, and incredibly moreish. It had the usual coffee and chocolate notes to it that most porters/stouts had, but had quite a clean finish with a weak aftertaste. It was good enough to serve a pub! Unlike the Mix used for the Zing Ding Bitter, this was all made from scratch and I think you could taste the difference. Apart from my own porter/dark beer preferences, it had a warmth of character and overall a much more satisfying beer.
The next step is for myself to make my own beer. Watch this space!