The next stage is to bring this lovely sugary water to the boil in the copper. The copper did not want to boil. We were a little worried as the gas burner had been used the day before for cleaning, but didn't seem to want to get to boiling point. After much fiddling with the thermostat, quite a lot of coffee, and much patience, it eventually boiled. Phew! No boil = cloudy yuck beer.
We added the early bittering hops by opening the top lid. This didn't go wrong. To be honest, you'd have to be quite a nincompoop to 'incorrectly' add hops!!
It finally cooled down, we transferred it, and now it's all sat in casks in the cold store conditioning nicely. Conditioning is a word we use for a second, small fermentation stage which happens inside the casks. It gives a little bit of carbonation so your beer isn't flat, and it adds a 'fuller bodied' sort of texture to it so it's not all wishy washy dish water beer. Often the longer the conditioning stage, the better the beer tastes.
This brew was so horrendous (and miraculously has come through unscathed) that things can only get better. The only way is up (I need to tell the yeast that too...).