What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?
I work at a large biopharma company that makes vaccines. I purify antigens from the bacteria that causes whooping cough, and they later get formulated into a vaccine.
What got you into homebrewing?
In 2017 a friend and I went to a U-brew/ferment on premise place to “brew” a batch of beer. I felt like we didn’t actually do much, so I looked up homebrewing afterwards to see what the process was like and with my science background it sounded right up my alley, so I bought How to Brew, visited Toronto Brewing, and the rest was history.
What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?
I’ve played basketball and golf since I was a kid, enjoy reading (60 books in 2018!), and have found a love of cooking during this pandemic.
How long have you been brewing and how many batches last year?
I’ve been brewing for almost four years, brewing my first batch (an APA) in May 2017. I brew 2-3 times a month and did 31 batches last year.
Do you have any favorite styles you like to brew?
If you know me you know my passion is mixed-fermentation beers, and most of my fermenter capacity is dedicated for beers with bacteria and my friend Brett. Obviously these have long fermentations, so I always have some clean beer on the go too. I like brewing malty and dark styles but mix in a bit of everything.
What kind of setup do you use?
I live in a condo so I brew in my kitchen. I brew all grain batches with a cooler mash tun and batch sparge, and boil in a 7 gal kettle on the stove. I’ve got one temp-controlled fermenter for clean beer, and five non-temp controlled fermenters for sour/funky beers (and wish I had space for about 10 more). Contrary to most, I don’t own kegs or CO2, I bottle all my beer. It gets a bad rap, but I enjoy bottle conditioning and believe it has its advantages!
What is the worst beer you have brewed?
I made a black IPA once that turned out wayyy too bitter and roasty. I learned that dark malts go a long way and to keep the %’s low in grain bills, especially roasted barley.
What is the best beer you have brewed?
I guess my best beer would be my cream ale as it’s done the best in competitions, including gold at the last two Brew Slams. It’s a great crushable beer for the warm months, and enjoyed by macro-drinking friends too. The recipe is pretty simple and is in the Club Recipe Database here!
What advice would you give to a new homebrewer?
Everything you hear frequently – control your fermentation temperature, clean and sanitize very diligently, minimize oxygen, learn how to treat your water. But honestly what I think improves homebrew quality the most is just becoming immersed in the hobby – go to club meetings, read books, listen to podcasts, ask lots of questions, brew frequently, enter competitions, talk to others about your recipes, etc. If you have the time to go all in with this awesome hobby, you’ll see your beer improve by leaps and bounds.
What beer is your white whale, one that you’ve been chasing to perfect?
I’m never as happy as I’d like with my IPAs. They’re fine, but always a step or two behind the best commercial examples so I’d love to bring them up a notch.
Do you have a name for your homebrewery?
I do – Full Circle Ales. You can see what I’m up to at @fullcircleales on Instagram.