IPA first prize
Shop owner wins British beer competition
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum email@example.com
Hops are an essential ingredient in beer.
With the current hops shortage, many home brewing shop owners have had to limit the amount they sell to customers. Jason Bourassa of Kettle to Keg in Pembroke took a different approach. He developed a beer recipe that called for less hops — and won first prize at the South Shields Real Ale Festival in Sunderland, England.
Bourassa is a fan of the India Pale Ale (IPA) style of beer, which gets its distinctive bitterness and spicy flavor from hops. His award-winning beer is offers a new approach to achieve the IPA taste. He said. “Instead of hops, I used ginger for the spice and lemon zest for the bitterness.”
On a visit to a friend who owns Bull Lane Brewery in Sunderland, Bourassa shared the IPA recipe. That friend gave the beer a name — Jason’s Jinga Ale — and entered it into the competition. Now the ale is available on tap at pubs throughout the Newcastle, England, area. In return, the friend sent a couple of his brewery’s own beer recipes over, which Bourassa made into brew kits for his customers: Ryhope Tug, named after a 1950s tugboat that the U.S. lent to the U.K. to work on the River Tyne, and Nowts a Matta, which is the Newcastle way to say “Ah, forget about it.”
Bourassa worked as a mechanic at Logan Airport and he first fell in love with European-style ales on a trip to Ireland. When he returned, he began to experiment with home brewing to recreate the ales he enjoyed on the trip. “Their beers are so much like home-brewed beers,” he said. “They’re not allowed to filter them and can only use quality, natural ingredients.”
Bourassa learned how to brew beer at the University of Sunderland’s brewing program, and spent about eight years working at various breweries around the U.S. and U.K. while he also experimented with his own beer recipes. When he moved to the Concord area, he could not find a home brew supplier in the area. So, in 2006, he decided to open his own shop.
“I have a lot of customers who go to Europe, like the beer and want to make it themselves,” Bourassa said. “I’ll help them crack the recipe.”
Bourassa said that home brewing is as easy or as complicated as you want it to be:
“One beer is not so different than another. They all pretty much take the same ingredients. It’s like making a pizza. Everyone knows that it takes a crust, sauce and cheese, but the key is what makes one pizza taste different from another. I make beer more like a chef would than a brewery. It’s about the flavor. You look for a certain flavor and experiment until you get it.”
Kettle to Keg has all the supplies the home brewer needs to create a favorite beverage. Along with the house-made kits, the shop carries brewing and bottling equipment, home kegs and kegerators and barware. There are also wine-making kits and equipment. All the supplies may also be purchased online.
“For home brewers, there is so much information out there,” Bourassa said. “Hundreds of ways of doing things. I help people sort through it all and find what’s best for them and the type of beer they want to create. I give them the knowledge.”