Fancy your skills with the mash tun and sparging arm? Then you could do a lot worse than get something suitable ready for the Craft Brewers Association's National Homebrew Festival, to be held in Sutton in deepest South London on November 13. That's only five months away, which, unless you're planning a Russian Imperial Ale or something equally heavyweight, should just about give you time to get your best beer cooked and matured in time to try your luck against the meanest hop-and-grain wizards in the game.
Having attended last year's event and entered a kit beer on behalf of The Times to see what happened, I can recommend the occasion as a low-intensity but very high-value celebration of what can be done in the humblest home with a little bit of equipment and a whole lot of love. The overall standard of beers last year was truly excellent, with the best being spectacular. The place was filled with enthusiastic brewers from all parts of the country, of all shapes, sizes and genders, and with all kinds of day jobs. I can guarantee an excellent day, and that you'll come away safe in the knowledge that the future of craft beers is very healthy indeed.