Member Profile: Jon Mains


Jon Mains

What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?

I’m a businessman. I work as a financial analyst at a kitchen cabinet manufacturer, crunching numbers, financial statements, spreadsheets, graphs, charts, Excel baby!

What got you into homebrewing?

Some combination of unemployment, curiosity, frugality, education, and entrepreneurial aspirations. I had recently completed my Master of Business at U.B.C. in Vancouver, and had a lot of spare time while job hunting. As someone who loves craft beer and cooking, I figured I could probably brew up a decent batch myself while simultaneously saving money! By the way, I’ve yet to save any money making my own beer, the equipment is expensive!

I started reading every book I could get my hands on and anything I could find on web forums. With an undergraduate degree in Biology, the science of brewing came quickly and easily, that’s when the same thought crossed my mind that crosses every homebrewer’s mind, “Why not start a brewery?!”

What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?

I have a serious garden, or suburban farm, I grew 175lbs of 30 different heirloom tomato varieties this past summer, with many peppers, greens, and herbs in addition to the tomatoes.

I’m a big fan of skiing, but it’s got to be in British Columbia.

Die hard Blue Jays fan, last couple years have made watching the team tolerable.

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

I started brewing in March 2014 and have now brewed 120 batches, including 50 batches last year.

Do you have any favourite styles you like to brew?

I’m big into lagers. They’re tough to perfect, the challenge intrigues me. I also love super citrusy West Coast IPAs.

What kind of setup do you use?

Hard to explain as it keeps evolving and requires a lot of labour, with my new 25G brew kettle I will be making up to two 1 hL batches! Until I setup the new 25G kettle, my typical brew day uses two 12 gallon coleman cooler mash tuns, and 16 G, 9G, 5G, and 3G kettles. Essentially what I do is make two 15 gallon batches, one in each 12 gallon Coleman mash tun. I brew the first, cool and drain it, then I boil up the second batch all on the same day. Brew days are usually 17 hours.

What is the worst beer you have brewed?

A grapefruit IPA. I tried adding grapefruit juice in the secondary fermenter, I also bottled conditioned with gelatin. Final result was vomit-flavoured beer with jello chunks floating around.

What did you learn from that worst beer?

Don’t ever ferment grapefruit juice, and only use gelatin if you are kegging your beer.

What is the best beer you have brewed?

The Resurrection Lager. I made a 2x5L starter of WLP 860, Munich Helles, special edition yeast for a 15 gallon batch. I used Weyermann Bohemian floor malt, a touch of Vienna, Munich, and Carafoam for the grain bill. I used Magnum for bittering, 18 IBU, and 3 ounces of Saaz @10min/5min/flameout for aroma. Result was a straw coloured, full-bodied, slightly spicy, easy-drinking beer.

Where did the name “Resurrection Lager” come from you say? Well I accidentally froze the wort solid right after pitching the yeast. Once thawed, 72 hours later, the yeast that came back to life and made one helles of an excellent beer.

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

  • Using yeast starters, makes beer consistent, and prevents a lot of flaws.
  • Kegging, saves a lot of time, and makes for better control over the final product.

What advice would you give to a new homebrewer?

  • Don’t try to change too many variables in one brew to another. You’re bound to mess something up. And it’s hard to identify which variable attributed what to your results.

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

I have stewarded 10 different homebrew/commercial brew competitions since March 2014, so I’ve gained a solid understanding of what goes into brewing competitions and the different styles of beer. Eventually, I will set aside some time to tackle the BJCP exam.

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

Whatever colour a poison dart frog is. Watch out!