Member Profile: Chris Hughes

Chris Hughes

What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?

I am a Graphic Designer with a few side hustles.

What got you into homebrewing?

Thinking that I could save money brewing my own beer. Once I saw all the shiny stainless I could buy, and started making decent beers, I was hooked. And ultimately broke.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?

I love snowboarding, mountain biking, golf, fishing and hiking. Anything outdoors really. I also design and build furniture using reclaimed wood.

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

Just over 3 years and I think I ended up brewing about 25 batches last year. I try for at least 2 a month.

Do you have any favourite styles you like to brew?

Specialty styles of IPA, Pales Ales, Kolsch and most recently kettle sours. But mostly hoppy beers.

What kind of setup do you use?

I recently purchased a Robobrew for indoor use but I still have a 15 gal kettle and cooler mash-tun I will use for outdoor use or bigger batches.

What is the worst beer you have brewed?

An extract-based Vienna Lager. I had no idea what lagering meant at the time and had no way to temp control it. It was drinkable but had many off flavours.

What did you learn from that worst beer?

Temperature control and sanitization are key.

What is the best beer you have brewed?

I would have to say it was probably the Black IPA that I brewed for Brew Slam 2019. It won several gold and silver medals in 2019 and the beer that won the Henderson Cup. The recipe is on the club recipe database.

 

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

Pitch rate, temp control and closed transfer. Brewing hoppy beers requires zero O2 in transfers.

What advice would you give to a new homebrewer?

  • Take solid notes. Even the smallest change you make in each batch will help you refine your recipe. Good or bad.
  • Read. There are so many good books on Brewing out there. I am currently reading The New IPA by Scott Janish. He has done all the homework on brewing hoppy and hazy beers as well as hop science.
  • Purchase or make your own temp controller. It will make such a huge difference.
  • Don’t worry about water chemistry to start, but make sure you are using campden tablets for eliminating chloramine in Toronto water.

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

None yet!

What is your favourite yeast, grain, and hop?

Can’t say I have a favourite grain but maybe Maris Otter if I had to pick one. Favorite hop is El Dorado and Cascade. Favorite yeast is Escarpment Labs Vermont or Omega Dipa.

What beer is your white whale, one that you've been chasing to perfect?

The NEIPA & Kolsch. While I have brewed both several times and have had some great batches, I am rarely satisfied with the result and keep modifying the recipe.