Member Profile: Darrell Kelly

Darrell Kelly

What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?

I have worked for Air Canada Jazz as an aircraft mechanic since 2004. I hold an M2 A.M.E license and currently maintain Dash 8’s, Q-400’s CRJ 200,705,900 and Embraer 175’s.

What got you into homebrewing?

After spending so much time traveling the world, a part of every trip I take is always sampling as much local cuisine as possible. This grew into also seeking out local breweries, which in turn got me more into craft beer locally as well. One year I got a Brooklyn Brewing 1 gallon kit for Christmas and the rest is history.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?

My hobbies outside of brewing include playing music including guitar and bass. I dabble in lots of other fermentations including cider, sourdough, sauerkraut, kimchi and hot sauce. I also run the occasional marathon to offset the calories from all the beer.

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

I’ve been brewing for just over four years, and last year I brewed around 40 batches.

Do you have any favorite styles you like to brew?

I’m into making lots of Belgian styles, Saisons and mixed fermentation beers. I also admire the delicate simplicity of German styles with Pilsner, Hefe and Rauch being my most brewed German styles.

What kind of setup do you use?

I currently brew on a Robobrew with a electric burner/kettle as my H.L.T. I built a custom range hood out of foil wrapped insulation and a repurposed furnace fan that I rewired.

What is the worst beer you have brewed?

I think the worst beers I have brewed have been some of the sour experiments that I have tried. I find aging beers to be a bit of a gamble sometimes especially when not using a conventional yeast/bacteria pitch. I have definitely made a few things that could pass for vinegar.

What did you learn from that worst beer?

What I have learned is to limit exposure to oxygen including resisting the urge to sample the beer unless necessary.

What is the best beer you have brewed?

I think my most consistent competition beers are my American stout, Piwo Grodziskie (which is in the club recipe database here!), and Dunkelweiss. I recently won a medal for my 2019 Flanders red. I consider winning a medal for a sour to be a real achievement as a brewer.

What advice would you give to a new homebrewer?

Always keep learning. I am constantly trying to fill my head with new information. I always recommend podcasts to people. I think people would be surprised to know how much information some brewers are willing to give out. Keep good notes. I am a ‘follow the recipe’ type of person so for me repeatability is the name of the game. I also number all my fermenters and kegs to have traceability incase of an infection.

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

I would have to say Hefeweizen. I have found that getting the correct amount of banana and clove into the beer to be a challenge (it’s all about the right balance). I also put a lot of effort into obtaining the correct body and drinkability of the beer. I’ve recently made some
changes in my system that will allow me to experiment with higher carbonation which I feel could make a big difference for serving this style.