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Brewing for Slugs

If you are a slug, look away now. This isn’t about how you can get into home-brewing and it will probably give you a headache!

As a gardener, I’ve found that beer traps are a reasonably effective way of drawing slugs and snails away from valued young and tender plants and to help control the overall population. The trouble is that you need beer or similar alcoholic beverages and those aren’t as cheap as water. Even with lowest-priced booze from the shelves and taking steps like keeping the pots covered to avoid diluting them with rain or watering, there is actually a fair volume that is needed to keep them topped up. Homebrew is cheaper and I do use some of the remnants of my brewing process for the garden but it does take time and energy.

Then, while emptying out some recent homebrew dregs, it struck me that brewing for slugs doesn’t have to be as exacting as brewing for myself. I’ve now done a couple of batches by using water and sugar (about 100g sugar in 800g water seems to yield a gravity of about 1.040) shaken up on top of trub – and yeast – from the dregs. It ferments in a plastic bottle with a bubbler valve at the top, the gravity drops and, to be honest, I’d be a bit cautious about imbibing the results. Table sugar actually ferments very well and is often cited as a reason why homebrew kits used to turn out strong, headache inducing brews.

However, early indications are that it works as well as more carefully produced beer. That means that, for less than 10 pence of ingredients, I can keep production going and get the best part of a litre of slug-pub brew. I can experiment with maintaining the viability of the yeast without worrying too much and, if it all gets visibly infected or runs out of steam, I can restart next time I’ve cooked up some beer for myself.

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