Member Profile: Mike Vandervoort

Mike Vandervoort

What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?

I am a Police Officer with Toronto Police Service and am currently working in the Jane and Finch community. Don’t let the media scare you it is actually a great community and I really enjoy working there.

What got you into homebrewing?

I did a university exchange to the Netherlands for a year. Every Friday (ok, maybe Thursday and Saturday too), a group of us would each purchase different beers from around Europe. I attempted to start that here with a group of friends when I got back and one said, “Hey, why don’t we make it?” Enough said.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?

I play hockey, snowboard, and pretty much anything else that can get my adrenaline flowing.

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

I have been brewing for about three years. I just recently hit the obsession level this last year and brewed about 40 batches.

Do you have any favourite styles you like to brew?

IPA and IIPA! Why? Hops! Question from any brewer I know. How much hops are in this? Answer: A lot! What do you think it needs? Answer: More Hops!

Urban myth: Law of Diminishing Gains!

I submitted an APA to a competition: Feedback, well that was aggressively hopped!

What kind of setup do you use?

I use a 20 gallon Spike Brewing turn-key system. I can produce 6 gallons to 14 gallons per batch.

What is the worst beer you have brewed?

An IPA! It was my first one and second beer ever. Amazing how an IPA turns out bad when you don’t know anything about fermentation temperatures, sanitation and ferment it in direct sunlight.

What did you learn from that worst beer?

After that horrible beer I was hooked and bought my current equipment. I read everything I could and became obsessed! I learned that failure just made me want to improve every time. It’s the first hobby I have had where I see failure in a beer as a positive because I learn so much. When you get it right the first time you don’t learn as much.

As Nuke LaLoosh would say: That was beautiful, what I do?

What is the best beer you have brewed?

The best beer I have brewed is called Hurricane Nat IPA. It's a juicy hazy NEIPA that is so hoppy that you smell it when you open your taps or bottle!  I have done a few variations of this beer, changing up the hops and grain bill. It won a few golds at Brew Slam including, gold in IPA, gold in Specialty IPA with the DIPA, and then gold in fruit with the Mango IPA and bronze with a Papaya IPA. Sooooooo here is the recipe. Sharing is caring!

Mike Van's Hurricane Nat

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

Temperature control cannot be understated! I recently started using pure oxygen and my fermentations have been crazy. If you are doing IPA’s and especially if doing NEIPA’s, limiting contact with oxygen will make a huge difference. Think oxygen reduction in every step on the cool side.

What advice would you give to a new homebrewer?

  • Learn the basics and try to improve a little each time. Don’t go from zero to 100. Be patient and watch the beer improve every batch.
  • Once you get the basics down be creative! This is about making the beers you want and can’t get in a store or bar. Or even making something radical and new!
  • Once you find a recipe you like, change it a bit at a time to make it your own. But don’t change too much at once or you won’t know the impact.
  • Enter competitions. They provide professional feedback in an anonymous setting for a very cheap price. Let the feedback guide you and motivate you. You’ll be surprised how good your beers really are!

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

I’ve drunk an obscene amount of beer around the world. Does that count? I should attend meetings if I wasn’t so busy drinking. Oh wait do our GTA Brews meetings count?

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

What happened to the good old days when frogs lived in swamps and made socially awkward noises that we couldn’t locate?

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