What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?
I’ve been working for the LCBO in retail since 2008, coincidentally I am the beer ambassador at my location.
What got you into homebrewing?
I’ve always had an interest in beer, and wanted to learn more about it beyond the very limited amount we are taught by my employer. It wasn’t until I was at a stag/doe party where one of the raffle prizes was a Brooklyn Brewshop 1 gallon kit. When I saw it I had that “Aha!” moment, and tried to win it. My friends grandmother ended up winning it, and I had a feeeeeeeling she wouldn’t be using it anytime soon, so I went over and bought it off her and brewed it the following week. She drives a hard bargain though, I wasn’t getting it off of her for cheap.
What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?
I love to cook, doesn’t mean I’m overly good at it but I do enjoy when I’m able to put a meal together and people love it. I also love to travel, I’m really into history, I’ve been to France and Belgium on a WW1 & WW2 history tour, visiting a range of sites including Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge, and the beaches of Normandy. Most recently, probably one of my most cherished memories was going to La Tomatina in the small town of Buñol in Spain for the annual tomato fight. I was scraping tomato out of my ears for days, but it was so worth it.
How long have you been brewing and how many batches last year?
I’ve only been brewing since the summer of 2017, but I’ve been pretty close to a batch a week. Last year I brewed 37 batches, with a couple double brew days thrown in the mix.
Do you have any favourite styles you like to brew?
I love making stouts and IPA’s for myself, but I get a lot of joy out of making things my Dad likes (Stella and Rickards Red), because in the beginning of my homebrewing journey he would always tease me, “ya you could do all this, or you know, just go to the store annnnnd…”. So now that I’m able to put crowd pleasers on tap for him that he will enjoy and proudly share with friends, it’s kind of a “I told you so, in your face” kind of thing.
What kind of setup do you use?
Very basic, two 10 gallon kettles and a false bottom mash tun cooler. I brew outdoors or in the garage with a propane burner. I’ve been slowly accumulating all the bells and whistles (temp control, mill, oxygen wand, beer gun, etc) and I say I have everything I need, but we all know that’s a lie. I definitely have a few things on my wish list.
What is the worst beer you have brewed?
Besides my first 2 batches made with 1 gallon kits which both gushed like volcanoes when I opened them… Well there has been a few, but if I have to pick, it would be my first attempt at a cherry wit. Turns out I underpitched the yeast (no starter), forgot to add campden and fermented too warm. The beer was riddled with off flavours, tried everything to save it, but the beer never left the fermentor.
What did you learn from that worst beer?
I learned that I gotta start making yeast starters! I never put much thought into them before, but after tasting that beer and hearing from a pro what the problem was, I pulled up my socks and haven’t looked back.
What is the best beer you have brewed?
What is a change you have implemented that you feel made a big improvement in your beer?
Using yeast starters and paying attention to water chemistry has taken my beer to the next level. I am now consistently and confidently making beers which are getting better and better.
What advice would you give to a new homebrewer?
This advice has probably been echoed many times before, but keep it simple at first, don’t try to make a quad before you’ve nailed down your process and control points in your brewing. Work on making the same few recipes over and over again until you get it right, keep a notebook for your brews and write everything down from fermentation temp, to the amount of priming sugar you used. At the same time, this is supposed to be fun, so feel free to experiment a little once you’re more comfortable.
Do you have any certifications related to beer and/or homebrewing (BJCP, Cicerone, etc…)?
Not yet but I want to do the Prud’homme courses sometime soon.
If you could be a tree frog, what colour tree frog would you be and why?
Anyone who knows me would know I would say green, cause its my last name, and my favourite colour. Any board game with different coloured pieces, I’m green, I’ll fight you, I’m green. So tree frog? I’m green.