What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?
By day I work as a Television Editor at Corus Entertainment, by night I'm a Prud'homme Beer Certification instructor and have been working with my business partner and fellow home brewer Pietro Caira to put on People's Pint events and eventually open a brewery together.
What got you into homebrewing?
I've always loved to cook and experiment with various flavours to create different dishes. Brewing felt like a natural extension of cooking for me. Part of the appeal of brewing is coming up with unusual beer recipes that fuse different styles and flavours to create something unique.
What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?
How long have you been brewing and how many batches last year?
I started brewing about 6 years ago and I try to brew at least once a month. Thanks to the last People's Pint Event I brewed more in one month than I usually brew in a year, which was great.
Do you have any favourite styles you like to brew?
I've always loved brewing IPAs of any kind; Black, White, Red, American, English, Belgian you name it. But lately I've really started to gravitate toward drinking Helles and Pilsners. So my next brew will probably be a Pilsner.
What kind of setup do you use?
When I brew on my own, I have a 5 gallon, all grain, stove top setup in my kitchen. When I brew with my partner Pietro, we use his 10 gallon outdoor Sabco-style propane system.
What is the worst beer you have brewed?
I made a Golden Stout that didn't turn out quite as I expected. I barrel aged half of the batch in a 2.5 gallon barrel seasoned with Crown Royal Northern Rye and the other half on coffee beans and cocoa husks. The stuff in the barrel tasted amazing after 3 weeks, but the stuff on the coffee beans and cocoa husks had past it's prime (by a long shot) because I left them in too long. I probably should have dumped out that half and just bottled the barrel aged stuff, but I felt that maybe blending them would balance it out and I would still have a pretty good beer. Well it wasn't. It tasted extremely astringent and the blending completely destroyed the beautiful flavour of the barrel aged portion.
What did you learn from that worst beer?
Always trust your instincts when tasting a finished beer and never feel bad about dumping a bad beer. It's better to have less of a good beer than too much of a crappy one.
What is the best beer you have brewed?
I've brewed a number of beers that I'm really proud of, but the one I get asked about the most is my Old School Sarsaparilla Amber Ale. It's a hard root beer that isn't over the top with the spices usually associated with this style. I like it because it's subtle and still tastes like a beer:
What is a change you have implemented that you feel made a big improvement in your beer?
The biggest improvement came when I started to keg my beer about 3 years ago. Prior to that I struggled with bottle conditioning and getting the carbonation levels just right. Once I started kegging, my beer was closer to what I wanted every single time. Kegging has it's own challenges, but I feel it is far less frustrating than bottling.
What advice would you give to a new homebrewer?
- Start slowly and with smaller batches.
- Learn how to make basic base styles before doing something experimental with those styles.
- Read as much as you can about brewing.
- Take advice from others, no point in reinventing the wheel, someone has more than likely done it before. GTA Brews is great for that.
- Brew what you like to drink, you'll have fewer drain pours that way.
Do you have any certifications related to beer and/or homebrewing (BJCP, Cicerone, etc…)?
I completed my Level 4 Prud'homme Master Beer Sommelier in 2015 and continue to teach Level 1 & 2. I'd love to do my BJCP, but haven't found the time yet.
If you could be a tree frog, what colour tree frog would you be and why?
Colour isn't really important, as long as I'm a kind of tree frog that can still drink beer and not fall out of the tree!