Member Profile: Mark Verok

Mark Verok

What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?

I appraise commercial real estate. I’m an AACI, which basically means I value the stuff that banks lend on and developers spend way way too much money on.  The bulk of my time in the past year though has been concentrated around starting and marketing Katalyst Brewing Company.  We are listed in the LCBO and will very shortly be in stores!

What got you into homebrewing?

If I recall, I was sitting talking to my father, and somehow beer came up, I had tried making wine a few times, with varying success, and he said “I don’t think that’s a great idea, not sure it’s that easy”.  Of course, I have spent the past couple of years throwing home brewed beer at him.  I won this round Pete!

What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?

I play a ton of hockey, mostly skating really fast with zero skill, intimidation factor, you know?  I also love biking, mountain biking particularly, there is something about hitting a tree at speed that makes you see whats important in life.

How long have you been brewing and how many batches last year?

I have been brewing for about five years at this point.  Last year I brewed about 40 batches total, many of which were double batches.  This year I am currently well over 60, hoping to hit 70 before the end of the year.  I am still nowhere near breaking Andrew Byer’s record of 100 or something stupid in a year.

Do you have any favourite styles you like to brew?

I love me a Saison.  Something about a midly tart, classic Saison that makes me happy. They are the right balance of complex flavours and a nice drinkable beer.  I love Folly’s stuff, they have the style dialed, Left Field’s Sunlight Park is also great

What kind of setup do you use?

I use a 16 gallon kettle, 65,000 BTU propane burner and a 60 QT cooler with manifold as my mash tun.  Fermentation takes place in a temperature chamber that I built a few years ago and wired up to an STC-1000.  Most of my stuff gets kegged and served out of my 4 tap keezer.

I am currently building a RIMS tube using Clayton Hoy’s advice, since he did it a while ago. Hopefully eliminate the 2-3C drop in mash temperature that I sometimes experience over my mash.

What is the worst beer you have brewed?

I brew a lot, and have brewed a lot of really shit beer to get to this point.  The absolute worst beer that I have brewed is a dry stout that I made as my second all-grain batch.  This beer was just disgusting, it was tannic, it was rough, it was boozy, overcarbed, and many of the bottles exploded in my workshop.

What did you learn from that worst beer?

If you are bottle carbonating, for the love of god, please measure your priming sugar on an ACCURATE scale.

What is the best beer you have brewed?

The style that I have brewed the most, and coincidentally the one that I have received the most praise on is my house Saison.


50% Two Row

30% Domestic Wheat

20% Domestic Rye

*You might need some rice hulls, the rye and wheat make things a little gummy.

Adjust water to :

90ppm Ca; 11ppm Mg; 37ppm Na; 84ppm SO2; 57ppm Cl; 76ppm HCO3 (Antwerp, Belgium).  Filtered water will also work fine for this recipie, you just need to remove the chlorine from the water really.

Mash @ 150F (65.56C) for 60 minutes, recirculate wort for 15 minutes

Sparge with 170F (76.67C) water to achieve pre-boil volume

12 IBU Czech Saaz @ 60minutes

10 IBU Czech Saaz @ 15minutes

Whirfloc @ 5 minutes

Ferment with Escarpment Labs Old World Saison @ 21-28C, if you like farmier beer, fermenting towards the upper end, lower for a cleaner flavor profile.


What is a change you have implemented that you feel made a big improvement in your beer?

The two that I have noticed affected my beer in the most positive way were yeast management (stir plate, yeast starters, etc) and temperature control, keep the yeast happy, and you make happy beer!

What advice would you give to a new homebrewer? 

  • Ask for help.  The community is full of tons of people that know their stuff and are more than willing to help.
  • Read, everything, magazines, science journals, books, labels (some offer recipe hints).
  • Brew stuff that you haven’t brewed before, and try to perfect and repeat stuff that you have.
  • Don’t worry about the fancy systems, they are nice, but you can make great beer using a green 45 year old cooler as a mash tun.
  • don’t worry about getting overcomplicated off the bat, some of the best recipes that you make will be the simplest.
  • Get your yeast management in order, it makes a huge difference.
  • Don’t be afraid to dump a batch, it’s a lot easier to make a new batch and adjust for previous mistakes than trying to stomach 23 litres of garbage beer.

Do you have any certifications related to beer and/or homebrewing (BJCP, Cicerone, etc…)?

Nada.

If you could be a tree frog, what colour tree frog would you be and why?

I would be a freight train.


Note: Mark will is hosting a launch party for his brewing company Katalyst on Saturday Dec 17th 2016 from 8pm-1am at Henderson Brewing Co. Come say hello, and get sloshy!