Doctor by day, brewer by night

PUT the words “beer” and “anaesthetic” together in the same sentence and you would probably imagine a sleepy Sunday afternoon after a little over-indulgence at the pub.

PUT the words “beer” and “anaesthetic” together in the same sentence and you would probably imagine a sleepy Sunday afternoon after a little over-indulgence at the pub.

But for Arnth Engel, from Aldeby near Beccles, the two go together for a rather different reason.

While Dr Engel is an anaesthetist by day at the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston, by night he likes to unwind by brewing real ale in his garage.

Originally from Germany, he first began brewing beers as a teen but now he hopes to turn his hobby into a small business.

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Dr Engel has applied for planning permission to convert the double garage of his home into a microbrewery, which could produce up to 1,000 litres of ale a week.

He first began dabbling with home brew while he was taking his A-levels in Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany. He said: “The first time was about 25 years ago. I started in my A-level biology class and inspired everyone else to do it. It wasn't very palatable at first but there has been some improvement.”

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After school, he decided to follow a different side of science. He went to university in Germany and, in 1995, moved to England to complete his medical training. He has worked in the anaesthetics department at the James Paget Hospital since 2003.

But although some might consider a second career as a brewer to be at odds with his role as a doctor, he disagrees. He said: “I think real ale promotes responsible drinking. You don't have 'real ale louts'.

“After you've spent all day making it, you appreciate it more. The emphasis is on the quality of the beer, so you drink less.”

He added that, after coming home from a day in surgery, his microbrewery would be the perfect place to wind down. He said: “I find it relaxing. You need something completely different to switch off. It's nice to come home and do something else.”

The plans for the microbrewery are at an early stage, but, if approved, it would be a family venture. Dr Engel's wife, Gina, would take care of the marketing and promotion while his son Samuel, 9, and step-son Nicholas, 15, would help to bottle the beer and label it up.

The garage would house a mash tun, copper, hot liquor tanks and two fermenting barrels. The doctor has tried brewing different types of ale there in the past, from stouts to mild ale, and would continue to try out a range of beers. He said: “The will always be a lot of experimenting and improvisation, but they will all use simple ingredients with no additives.”

The family hope to be able to tap into both the growing demand for real ale and the increasingly high number of people who want to shop locally.

He will buy his main ingredients from suppliers in Norfolk and Suffolk and hopes to sell his beer to the area's pubs and shops. One real ale shop in Wrentham, near Beccles, is already interested.

He said: “Our emphasis is to live in a rural environment, to support the rural community and have a natural and unspoilt product.”

The microbrewery application will go in front of planners at South Norfolk District Council in a few weeks' time.

Dr Engel's brewing process:

- Start with pre-shreded malt.

- Mash with water heated to 65c.

- Filter out the grains and you are left with a brown sugary water called “wort”.

- Boil the wort with hops to give the beer its flavour and smell - how bitter it is depends on the type of hops.

- Filter it again and cool it down to 20-30c to begin the fermenting process.

- Then add the yeast. That creates bubbles and the sugar is transformed into alcohol.

- Leave it to mature in a barrel.

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