Welcome to GTA Brews

We are Toronto’s local homebrew club and our goal is to help our members learn how to make the best beer/mead/cider possible! We run events, competitions, bulk buys, and lots more. Club Meetings are the 2nd Monday of each month. Join as a Member to get access to all our events and services. Keep up with our latest news:

Join on Facebook: GTA Brews Facebook Discussion Group
This group serves as the main discussion hub for over 2000 local homebrewers. Ask your brewing questions, and check out what others brewing to get inspired for your next brew!

Sign Up for: GTA Brews Mailing List
New members are automatically added to the mailing list, but anyone can sign up here. Emails consist of Monthly Newsletter and occasional reminders about events/sign-ups.

September Meeting: Raw Ale with Luke Van Oort

Date: Monday September 14th, 2020
Time: 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM

GTA Brews Members: You must login to see the link and password. If you have logged in and cannot see them, please refresh the page.

This month, we have our very own Luke Van Oort sharing his knowledge with a presentation on Raw Ale! This is a technique inspired by historical brewing processes that has the potential to shave hours off your brewday by skipping the boil!

As with any conference call, please mute your microphone if you aren’t speaking, this really helps cut down on background noise. During Q&A segments we will make use of the “Raise Hand” feature.

Continue reading September Meeting: Raw Ale with Luke Van Oort

Grain Buy – Fall 2020

The GTA Brews Fall 2020 Grain Buy is open!

We're back at it again with the launch of our Fall 2020 Grain Bulk Buy!  

Thanks again to Toronto Brewing for hosting, please make sure to give them your love and make some purchases on pick up day! Don’t forget, they deliver your online order to breweries all over Toronto for FREE!

All questions should be emailed to grainbuy@gtabrews.ca.

Key Info:

  • Sign Up Open: Monday, Sept 7, 2020
  • Sign Up Close: Friday, Sept 25 Saturday, Sept 26, 2020 (11:59 pm)
  • Pick Up Day: Saturday Oct 31, 2020 (10:30 am – 1:30 pm)
  • NO SPLITS - FULL BAGS ONLY

Reminders

  • Updates are sent to the email registered with you GTA Brews membership account
  • If you didn't get the announcement email or order confirmation, check your spam!
  • Reminder that some items are special order, and may be delayed
  • You can find all your gtabrews.ca orders on your My Account page

This content is only available for GTA Brews Members. Please visit our membership page to join today!

If you are already a member, don't forget to Log In!

August Meeting: Pressure Fermenting with David Chang-Sang

Date: Tuesday August 18th, 2020
Time: 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM

GTA Brews Members: You must login to see the link and password. If you have logged in and cannot see them, please refresh the page.

Please note the one off deviation in date this month.

This month, we have our very own David Chang-Sang sharing his knowledge with a presentation on Pressure Fermenting. If you’ve been looking for an easier way to brew tasty lager-ish beers, this is the presentation for you!

As with any conference call, please mute your microphone if you aren’t speaking, this really helps cut down on background noise. During Q&A segments we will make use of the “Raise Hand” feature.

Continue reading August Meeting: Pressure Fermenting with David Chang-Sang

Brew Slam 2020 Cancelled Due to COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GTA Brews has decided to cancel this year’s iteration of our annual Brew Slam homebrew competition.

As soon as we went into lockdown back in the spring, we started getting questions from homebrewers across Canada asking us what our plans were for Brew Slam 2020. We held off making any firm decision as long as we could, with the hope that the situation would improve and we could continue as planned.

After months of waiting and internal discussion, the club has decided not to proceed with a competition this year. We are aware of the virtual homebrew competition trend that some clubs in the US have been championing, but we didn’t feel this would be appropriate for Brew Slam. We also considered a smaller virtual only competition, but didn’t feel this was something we wanted to pursue at this time.

We are looking forward to coming back with Brew Slam 2021, and can’t wait to make it better than ever before. For now, we are sending out best wishes to all Canadian homebrewers and their families, and hope you are honing your recipes with plenty of homebrewing. The competition is sure to be fiercer than ever in 2021 when we, and the rest of the BOTY circuit, return!

Cheers from the Brew Slam Crew!

Black is Beautiful: Homebrewers Against Racial Injustice (Final Update)

Over the years, GTA Brews hasn’t really taken an active role in advocating for diversity in the homebrewing community. We’ve mostly taken a passive approach by trying to remove barriers that may hinder a feeling of inclusion for women and racial minorities. The vast majority of our club leadership is composed of white men, and in the past we didn’t feel like it was our place to speak out.

After witnessing the racial injustices that have been brought to light over the past few weeks, we have decided we can no longer be passive on this matter. We are ready to help in the fight for real change.

Black is Beautiful is an initiative founded by Weathered Souls Brewing in San Antonio, TX. This initiative is mainly focused at craft breweries and beer drinkers, and encourages them to collaborate in raising awareness and funds for local charities fighting against racial injustice. The initiative is centered around a single stout base recipe, and each participant is encouraged to put their own creative spin on it.

Chosen Charity: CAFCAN

CAFCAN is a registered charitable organization whose primary focus is on building and strengthening the service framework for African Canadian children, youth and families through culturally safe individual and group counselling supports, case management services, employment services, youth mentorship, and youth outreach programs.

Donate Here

How We Will Help

As a homebrew club, we don’t sell beer, so we aren’t able to dedicate a certain portion of each bottle sold. Instead, we will do the following:

  • Raise awareness for a local charity (CAFCAN) focused on the black community
  • GTA Brews will donate $10 for each member that brews the Black is Beautiful recipe
  • GTA Brews will match member donations to CafCan, up to $1000 total

As a small, non-profit, membership based organization, we don’t have deep pockets, so this $1000 is a considerable part of our bank account. Brew and/or donate before July 31st to qualify!

Update: Our good friend Toronto Brewing has joined the initiative, and will match what the club donates. This means that for every dollar donated, it gets multiplied by 3!

Final Amount Raised:

$2965

  • Batches Brewed by Members: 16
  • Member Donations: $965
  • Club Donation: $1000
  • Toronto Brewing Donation: $1000

How to Participate

To make a difference, we need the help of you, our club members! We need you to brew the beer, and we need you to consider making a monetary donation if you are able.

  • Donation: Please email proof to info@gtabrews.ca, the club will match your donation
  • Brew the Beer: Please notify info@gtabrews.ca after brew day, and we will donate $10

The Recipe:

Weathered Souls said it best:

Continue reading Black is Beautiful: Homebrewers Against Racial Injustice (Final Update)

Recording: Simple Homebrewing with Denny & Drew

Recording from the July 2020 meeting of GTA Brews Homebrew Club in Toronto, Canada.

This month we had two very special guests join us all the way from California and Oregon! This presentation from our favourite podcast hosts and authorsDenny Conn and Drew Beechum, was a big hit with club members.

If you enjoyed this presentation, please considering buying their book Simple Homebrewing, and listen to their podcasts.

GTA Brews Members: You must login to see the video.

July Meeting: Simple Homebrewing with Denny & Drew

Date: Monday July 13th, 2020
Time: 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM

GTA Brews Members: You must login to see the link and password. If you have logged in and cannot see them, please refresh the page.

This month, we have two very special guests joining us all the way from California and Oregon! We’re very excited to have our favourite podcast hosts and authors, Denny Conn and Drew Beechum!

As with any conference call, please mute your microphone if you aren’t speaking, this really helps cut down on background noise. During Q&A segments we will make use of the “Raise Hand” feature.

Continue reading July Meeting: Simple Homebrewing with Denny & Drew

Canadian Homebrew Day 2020: Virtual Group Brew

Due to COVID-19, our annual Canadian Homebrew Day tradition of running Learn2Brew has been cancelled. We still wanted to celebrate Canadian Homebrew Day, so we’re excited to announce we’ve organized a virtual group brew session on Zoom!

Join On Zoom (link)
Password: GTA_Brews
Date: Sunday June 7th, 2020
Time: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Note: This will take the place of our June club meeting

Hosts: David Chang-Sang and Eric Cousineau will be hosting the virtual brew session

  • David will be brewing a Munich Dunkel
  • Eric will be catching up on bottling some mead and kegging some beers

We were pleased to see lots of interest when we shared the plan on our Facebook Discussion Group a few days ago. We’re expecting at least 5 others to join the virtual brew session while brewing, so this will be a sort of virtual Learn2Brew!

May Meeting: Baking Bread in Quarantine

Monday May 11th at 7:30 PM
ZOOM Meeting (Online) – Link Below

Building on the success of our first online meeting in April, we are back in May to conduct the monthly meeting over Zoom.

We are still new to hosting virtual homebrew club meetings, so please have patience with any technical issues that arise. As with any conference call, please mute your microphone if you aren’t speaking, this really helps cut down on background noise.

Continue reading May Meeting: Baking Bread in Quarantine

April Club Update

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to require us to practice social distancing, so we will continue to postpone or go virtual with club gatherings until it is safe to return to normal.

This means we will not be able to host the hop split in April. We are still planning to split and distribute our hops as soon as it is safe to do so, and the hops are still safe and sound in the freezer at the suppliers. We don’t have any update about the May BJCP Tasting Exam or Learn2Brew yet.

In the meantime please continue to support our local homebrew shops during this difficult time. Toronto Brewing is online only at the moment, and is shipping orders as fast as they can. Homebrew Beer Academy is accepting online orders and allowing no contact pick up, and also doing drop off in parts of the GTA.

Please also continue to support our local breweries. So many of them have supported the club over the year, and the closure of bars, restaurants, and taprooms has a big impact on them. Most of them are offering online orders or local drop off, so if you can, please support them in this time of need.

David Chang-Sang has been hosting weekly (or more) Zoom hangouts with to provide a social outlet to discuss beer and other things. Keep your eyes on the Facebook Discussion Group for those. Our Social FB Chat has also been fairly active, feel free to join that if you want to hang out!

April Meeting: Cory Day Spills His Secrets

Monday April 20th at 7:30 PM
ZOOM Meeting (Online)

Due to the COVID-19 virus, we will be conducting this month’s meeting virtually over Zoom. We are thankful that we are still able to provide a strong educational component in the form of this month’s presentation.

This is our first time hosting a virtual homebrew club meeting, so please have patience with any technical issues that arise. As with any conference call, please mute your microphone if you aren’t speaking, this really helps cut down on background noise.

Continue reading April Meeting: Cory Day Spills His Secrets

COVID-19: Spring Event Schedule Adjustments

Dear GTA Brews Members,

Out of an abundance of caution of the ongoing COVID-19 / CoronaVirus pandemic, the GTA Brews Board of Directors have decided that it is prudent to re-examine and adjust our schedule of spring events.

Hop Buy Postponed

Hop Buy participants have already been notified that it has been postponed from the original date of Sunday March 22nd. We will announce a new date for in a few weeks, but we are aiming for mid-late April, depending on how the virus situation develops.

The hops will stay fresh in the freezer at the supplier, so we don’t lose anything by postponing. The cider part of the hop buy will not be postponed since it has already been pressed, frozen, and delivered to our temporary holding location (The Homebrew Beer Academy). Instructions will be sent to people that purchased cider once we work out the details.

Club BOTY Entry Shipping On Hold

(Updated March 16th, 2020)

The situation has continued to escalate, and many local businesses have closed, including our drop off locations. We felt it wasn’t appropriate to ask any new drop off locations so we have decided that we will put a hold on club shipping until further notice.

This includes the ALES Open shipping deadline that was set for March 21st. We will refund any shipping fees that have been paid to the club. At the moment ALES is proceeding with their competition, and not offering to refund entry fees. We hope they will change their mind, but this is outside the control of the club. If you would still like to enter the competition, you will need to manage your own shipping for the time being.

We will re-evaluate entry shipping for later comps in a few weeks.

Grain Buy Postponed

Due to the Hop Buy being pushed back to April, we are pushing the Grain Buy back to May. We were almost ready to launch the sign up, but will now hold off until a new pick up date in mid-late May can be solidified.

April Club Meeting

The April meeting is currently scheduled for Monday April 20th, due to Easter Monday falling on our traditional 2nd Monday of the month. At this time there are no changes planned for this event.

Spring Showdown Cancelled

Our annual Spring Showdown competition was in the initial planning stages to take place in early May, but we have decided to cancel the competition. With the Grain Buy moving back to May, and the uncertainty around additional event schedule changes that may be needed, we felt this was the best choice we could make.

Planning and running homebrew competitions is one of the most effort intensive things we undertake as a club. Given the evolving virus situation, and the other events that have moved back, we didn’t feel we could still put together the kind of competition we want to run.

We would like to thank The Homebrew Beer Academy for offering to come in as our title sponsor for Spring Showdown this year. This gesture is very much appreciated, and we hope our members will appreciate it as well.

If the opportunity arises we may consider running another competition in the early summer. However it is just as likely that we may decide it is wise to focus our efforts on Brew Slam instead.

BJCP Beer Judging Exam in May

There is a BJCP Beer Judging Exam scheduled for Saturday May 23rd. At this time we aren’t planning any changes to this event.

Learn2Brew for Canadian Homebrew Day

Canadian Homebrew Day is scheduled for Sunday June 7th, 2020. Due to the static nature of the national date, we are planning to stay the course on planning this event. We are looking to run another multi-site Learn2Brew again this year.


Thank you for your understanding, we hope you can appreciate that these changes are the responsible direction to go. The health and safety of our members is important to us, and we felt that postponing our events would limit unnecessary exposure to others during our busy events.

One last note; please support our local breweries and businesses in these uncertain times. As more people are electing to stay in, our local breweries and homebrew shops will undoubtedly see a reduction in foot traffic through their doors. Please consider buying some beer to drink at home from their retail shops, or even from their online stores.

Thanks again for reading this letter! We are sending our best wishes of happiness and health to each of you, and your families.

Cheers,
GTA Brews Board of Directors

(Eric Cousineau, Bear Alberico, Jim Bruce, Rob Towle, David Larocque)

March Meeting: IPAs. All of them.

Monday February 10th at 7:00 PM
Muddy York Brewing Co.
22 Cranfield Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4B 3H1  MAP

This month we have four exciting meeting elements!

    • Homebrew Bottle Swap
    • Structured Tasting *New Format*
    • Style of the Month: IPA
      • Presented by: Emily Storey
    • IPA Recipe Formulation with Mike Vandervoort

      • Come with questions!

We are going back to our gracious host, Muddy York Brewing Co! We request that everyone spend some money to support our wonderful host. Don’t forget to buy some bottles from their shop!

Continue reading March Meeting: IPAs. All of them.

February Meeting: Brewing by the Numbers

Monday February 10th at 7:00 PM
Northern Maverick Brewing Co.
115 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON, M5V 2P9  MAP

This month we have two exciting meeting elements!

    • Presentation: Brewing by the Numbers by Emily Storey
      • Analyzing the statistics of Brew Slam Homebrew Competition. Ever wonder which categories you are most likely to medal in? Find out Monday!
    • Structured Tasting & Mingle!

This February we are going back to our gracious host, Northern Maverick Brewing Co.. Thanks for hosting us! We request that everyone spend some money to support our wonderful host. Their food is fantastic (try the Jamaican patties), and they have plenty of beer-to-go in their bottle shop!

Continue reading February Meeting: Brewing by the Numbers

Merch Order for Hop Buy 2020

If you haven’t checked out the club Swag Shop recently, you are missing out! We’ve got a bunch of club branded items available for order, some of them are even listed at new SALE prices! We also have a new shirt, see below!

2019 Club of the Year Shirt!

Update: Club of the Year shirt pre-order closes March 4th!

To celebrate our club’s historic victory on the Brewer of the Year (BOTY) circuit last year, we have designed a commemorative shirt! Pre-order now, then these shirts will be available for pick up on Hop Buy pick up day (Mar 22nd)!

Last Call for Brew Slam and Club Logo Shirts!

Not listed in the Swag Shop is our last stock of Brew Slam and Club Logo shirts. If you missed out on these shirts, order now to snag the last ones! Here’s the stock for these are time of publish:

Brew Slam 2019 – Wrap Up

Brew Slam is wrapped up for another year, and what a year it was! All prizes were shipped out to our winners before the holidays, and I finally have time to write my annual wrap up post. With 819 entries judged, we were Canada’s largest homebrew competition again in 2019!

Saturday Afternoon: 49 BJCP judges seated in ONE session!

Competition Stats 2019:

  • Largest Canadian homebrew competition of the year!
    • 819 entries judged
    • 850 paid entries
    • 880 registered entries
    • 9/10 provinces, NY
      • Missing PEI still!
  • 281 participants with entries
    • A new record!
  • 134 volunteers: 77 judges, 52 stewards, 24 sorters, 14 crew
    • Most BJCP judges in any Canadian beer competition, ever!
  • 32 award categories
  • 7 judging sessions, avg 6.7 entries/pair per session
  • Over $23,800 in sponsored prizes and volunteer perks
Continue reading Brew Slam 2019 – Wrap Up

January Meeting: Brewing Water Chemistry

Monday January 13th at 7:00 PM
Muddy York Brewing Co.
22 Cranfield Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4B 3H1  MAP

This month we have five exciting meeting elements!

  • Presentation: Brewing Water Chemistry by Eric Cousineau
  • Special Guest: Q&A with Lizanne Pharand (P.Eng.) from Toronto Water
  • Style of the Month: Bock
    • Presented by: Emily Storey
  • Homebrew Bottle Swap
  • Structured Tasting *New Format*

We are going back to our gracious host, Muddy York Brewing Co! We request that everyone spend some money to support our wonderful host. Don’t forget to buy some bottles from their shop!

Continue reading January Meeting: Brewing Water Chemistry

Brew Slam 2019 – Award Ceremony Photos

As promised here are the medal winner photos we took at this year’s Brew Slam Awards Party! A full wrap up post is still in the pipeline, but hopefully these will stave off those that are getting antsy!

Big thanks to David Chang-Sang for taking these photos of our winners as they are awarded their medals!

Member Profile: Eric Cousineau

What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?

My profession is Computer Engineering. I am a proud member of a pre-silicon IP team at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Inc. We design, verify, and deploy a portion of the hardware logic that goes into the various GPU products that we make.

I’m also the Founder and President of GTA Brews, which also takes up quite a bit of time. It’s been a ongoing joke among the club officers that I’ve been too busy running the club to answer the questions for a member profile, but here I am! You win Rob!

What got you into homebrewing?

I started homebrewing because I wanted to explore my pre-existing love of craft beer, and learn more about it.

I had become really into beer while in university (~2008), and I even co-authored a column called Beer Buzz in the Engineering Society Newspaper (Iron Warrior). I had seen my friend (Kyle Smith) brewing up a storm on social media, so shortly after I graduated I bought myself a Brooklyn Brewshop kit from Chapters (Tip: Go to a homebrew shop instead, way fresher!). I brewed my first batch in January 2013 and the rest is history!

Continue reading Member Profile: Eric Cousineau

December Meeting: Holiday Gathering

Monday December 9th at 7:00 PM
People’s Pint Brewing Company
90 Cawthra Ave, Unit #101, Toronto, Ontario, M6N 3C2  MAP

This month come hang out, swap homebrews, and mingle!

This December we are being hosted by People’s Pint Brewing Company. Thanks for hosting us! We request that everyone spend some money to support our wonderful host. They have plenty of beer-to-go in their bottle shop!

Continue reading December Meeting: Holiday Gathering

November Meeting: Brewing Science with Escarpment’s Nate Ferguson

Monday September 9th at 7:00 PM
Muddy York Brewing Co.
22 Cranfield Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4B 3H1  MAP

This month we have five exciting meeting elements!

    • Presentation: Brewing Science by Nate Ferguson of Escarpment Labs
    • Style of the Month: American Pale Ale and Other Pale American Ale
      • Presented by: Emily Storey
    • Homebrew Advent Swap
    • Structured Tasting
    • Bottle Swap

We are going back to our gracious host, Muddy York Brewing Co! We request that everyone spend some money to support our wonderful host. Don’t forget to buy some bottles from their shop!

Continue reading November Meeting: Brewing Science with Escarpment’s Nate Ferguson

Brew Slam 2019 – Results Are Posted on torontobrewing.ca

(Dec 4th, 2019) Edit: They are are also now available on gtabrews.ca

The Award Ceremony has concluded for 2019, and the results have been announced! If you weren’t able to attend, your medal(s)/prizes will be shipped. If you are a local that couldn’t attend, please arrange to pick up your prizes directly from us.

Results

Click Here to view the Brew Slam 2019 Results

Scoresheets

Scoresheets have been uploaded to the entry software, all you need to do is login, go to your Account page, and look for the “gavel” icon next to each entry. You might also notice a miniBOS checkmark next to your entry, this means it was in contention for a medal. This will allow you to download the scoresheets for that entry. Direct link to profile
Gavel Icon: 

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Scoresheets From John Palmer

This year our special guest for the judging weekend was John Palmer, and our volunteers had a blast hanging out with him all weekend. A lucky 34 entrants will notice a 3rd scoresheet in their PDF file, completed by Palmer himself while our judge pairs took turns judging a beer with the king of homebrewing.

I will follow up with a more complete wrap up post, but for now, congrats to all the winners!

Cheers,
Eric Cousineau
Organizer, Brew Slam 2019

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October Meeting: Finishing Beer: Post-Fermentation

Monday October 22nd at 7:00 PM
Northern Maverick Brewing Co.
115 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON, M5V 2P9  MAP

This month we have two exciting meeting elements!

    • Presentation: Finishing Beer: Everything After Fermentation to Make Great Beer
    • Structured Tasting

This October we are going back to our gracious host, Northern Maverick Brewing Co.. Thanks for hosting us! We request that everyone spend some money to support our wonderful host. Their food is fantastic (try the Jamaican patties), and they have plenty of beer-to-go in their bottle shop!

Continue reading October Meeting: Finishing Beer: Post-Fermentation

Audio Recording of Kveik Q&A with Lars Marius Garshol

This past September we were lucky to have Lars Marius Garshol attend our September Meeting for a special Q&A session, along with our friends from Escarpment Labs. Lars also shared news about his upcoming book from Brewers Publications, Historical Brewing Techniques.

Big thanks to Escarpment for bringing Lars to Toronto, and sharing him with us! Also thanks to Muddy York Brewing Co for hosting the meeting!

James Kennedy was ready with his audio recorder and has assembled a bootleg soundtrack of the Q&A for anyone too listen to. Check it out below!

Find Us in the Cask Days 2019 Homebrew Section!

Cask Days is coming up this weekend and we’re very excited to have coordinated a whole section of the festival devoted to featuring homebrewers. Check out the full cask list here.

While these beers were brewed by many of the most talented homebrewers around, they don’t technically qualify as homebrew since they were brewed at commercial breweries. In addition to beer brewed by GTA Brews members, we also have casks from Durham Homebrew Club, Maple City Brewers Alliance, and Toronto Brewing!

Which one are you most excited to try? Hint, you want 182…

Our club member Guillaume (cask 183) has setup his Cask Helper website again, to help you track and plan your time at the festival!

Group Photo @ 3 PM (Session 1 Only)

As is tradition, we will be taking a group photo of homebrewers at 3:00 PM during session 1, in front of the homebrew section sign. Make sure to wear your GTA Brews swag for the photo, and don’t forget to set your phone alarm for 2:50 PM so you remember to make you way over.

Thank You To Our Partners

Big thanks to all our brewery partners for letting us brew with them! Please stop by breweries and say thanks by buying a pint, or some beer to go!

Big thanks for Nik Cole for coordinating the homebrew section again this year! Also thanks to Toronto Brewing for storing the empty casks, and Bear for storing the full casks!

Member Profile: Bear Alberico

Bear Alberico

What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?

Homebrewing is an occupation? Seriously though, I own and run a business that manufactures professional hair care products. It’s remarkable how similar it is to running a brewery; mix water and other ingredients in a kettle, fill them into bottles, then market and sell them. Beer shampoo anyone?

What got you into homebrewing?

I was a drummer in a reggae band and started making beer for our band to drink at rehearsals. Wasn’t great stuff, but it was cheap.

Continue reading Member Profile: Bear Alberico