Member Profile: David Larocque


What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?

Since 2012 I’ve been working for the Ontario Public Service in various policy roles ranging from health research funding, developing Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot Project and currently working in animal welfare/cruelty policy. Essentially I support the development of government programs/legislation/regulations. I’m also a father of two young girls (3 and 1) which keeps things busy and exciting on the home front. My 3 year old is becoming quite the brewing apprentice.

What got you into homebrewing?

I got more and more interested in the craft beer scene around 2012/13, and a friend of mine started homebrewing around then. After a few chats and a bit of reading I ordered my first kit and never looked back!

What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?

I love my Toronto Raptors; I love cooking (Indian and Vietnamese are my favourite cuisines to cook); Cycling; I’ve recently started making my own salami. I should probably read more…

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

I’ve been brewing for almost 8 years now and I brewed approximately 15 batches last year.

Do you have any favourite styles you like to brew?

I absolutely love brewing American Pale Ales. My house pale ale recipe uses a combination of Citra/Mosaic/Simcoe/Amarillo which I’ve come to love. I also really enjoy brewing California Commons (though my last version was a dud!).

What kind of setup do you use?

For many years I brewed 11 gallon batches in a standard cooler mash tun/brew kettle on a gas burner setup, however about 6 months ago I transitioned to the 30 L BrewZilla system. While I’m still tweaking some recipes, overall I love the BrewZilla and makes brewing with two small children around reasonably possible while mitigating the risk of burning the house down.

What is the worst beer you have brewed?

Years ago I tried to make a Berliner Weisse with peaches. The beer didn’t get sour at all and the peaches (which I cut into chunks) floated to the top of the beer and turned a digusting black colour. It was a dumper.

What is the best beer you have brewed?

It’s hard to pick out one specific beer, but a few years ago I brewed a Kolsch using 97% pilsner malt (I believe it was Schill Cologne Malt) and 3% Munich. I sourced the water from a natural spring near my parents cottage (Huntsville, Ontario) and fermented with US-05. Turned out fantastic.

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

Recently I’ve been fermenting in kegs – assuming this process greatly reduces my oxygen exposure, I think this has greatly improved my hoppy beers.

Do you have a name for your home brewery?

Ghost Room Brewing. When I first started brewing I was living with 3 roommates in an old house in Kensington Market. The landlords were a group of siblings who grew up in the house. While the house was a 5 bedroom, they would only let 4 people live there. That’s because the 5th bedroom (which also happened to be the master) used to be their parents bedroom, and they prohibited anyone from staying in there as it was a shrine to their deceased parents. I mean – there were pictures of the deceased parents posing in a casket in the room! They also required that we leave the door to the room open AT ALL TIMES. We decided that a ghost resided in this bedroom. Anyways – I regularly fermented beers in this room, hence the name Ghost Room Brewing.

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

I try to always have a hoppy beer (usually APA/IPA) on tap at home, and I’ve put in quite a bit of work on improving these beers the past year. Some small changes the past year (water chemistry, using kveik yeast, oxygen free transfers) have made some significant improvements. The chase for the whale continues!