What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?
I’m a high school science teacher with a background in Biology.
What got you into homebrewing?
Gigging in bands over the years at beer festivals and gastropubs introduced me to the more mainstream craft breweries, as well as a variety of European styles. I actually played in a band with Zack Weinberg many years ago around the time he was just starting up Toronto Brewing – he used to bring homebrew to rehearsals, which put the idea of brewing one day in the back of my mind. Years later when my wife and I started dating, she introduced me to a lot of great local craft beer and got me hooked. Not long after, she bought me a one-gallon Brooklyn Brewshop homebrew kit as a Chrismukkah gift. I brewed a couple of batches, loved the process, and I have been brewing ever since.
What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?
I have been a semi-pro musician for the last 15 years or so as both a drummer and a singer/guitarist. This includes everything from playing original music with bands at indie festivals and recording singles/EPs, to playing in cover bands at bars and beer festivals, to hosting regular open mic nights at pubs. I started scaling things back a couple of years ago to focus on my family and health, so these days I just play in two original bands: drumming for my wife’s indie folk rock band and fronting my new hard rock project.
How long have you been brewing and how many batches last year?
I have been brewing since January 2020. Last year, I managed to brew 17 batches between January and August – after that, my son was born and the brewing was paused until he started sleeping through the night.
Do you have any favorite styles you like to brew?
I would probably say hazy IPAs because 34 of the 83 batches I’ve brewed have been some variation of a NEIPA or hazy pale ale, but lately I’ve been more focused on European lagers (e.g. Marzen, Dunkel, Helles, etc).
Do you have any certifications related to beer and/or homebrewing (BJCP, Cicerone, etc…)?
None yet, but I’d love to earn a BJCP certification sometime in the next few years. Judging sounds like a great time!
What kind of setup do you use?
I have a Grainfather G30, which only gets used a few times a year. Most of my batches are actually only 2 to 2.5 gallons in size and brewed BIAB-style on a stovetop. It’s simple, but it works.
What is the best beer you have brewed?
That would probably be either my chocolate oatmeal stout or my märzen (which can now be found in the club recipe database). Both beers have earned multiple medals, but the märzen has medaled in five straight competitions so far this year (2 bronze, 2 silver, and 1 gold), so I’d probably give it the edge.
Curious about how to brew your next award winning märzen? Try Shane's recipe:
What is the worst beer you have brewed?What did you learn from it?
A few kegs/carboys have been dumped over the years. The worst beer to never make it into the keg was a hazy pale ale that got a pediococcus infection. It was discovered when went to check my gravity after a week. When I poured the sample into the graduated cylinder, it didn’t drip – instead, it poured like a thick syrup. It was pretty gross. This experience taught me that you can never use too much PBW and Star San – I would honestly use a blowtorch to sanitize my equipment if I could.
What is a change you have implemented that you feel made a big improvement in your beer?
Converting an old mini-fridge into a temperature-controlled fermentation chamber was a game changer. Having that consistency allows for much cleaner fermentation in my batches.
What advice would you give to a new homebrewer?
Don’t get crazy right away trying to brew all the styles you can think of – keep it to brewing just a few simple styles and change just ONE variable each time you re-brew them. Once you feel like you have something solid, bring some bottles to a club meeting for a tasting or just enter them into a competition – the detailed feedback from pros and experienced brewers is more valuable than the medals and it will make you brew better beers. Well… medals and prizes are awesome too.
What beer is your white whale, one that you've been chasing to perfect?
NEIPA - I have brewed it more than any other style and after three years, it is just starting to get closer to where I want it.
What is your favourite yeast, grain, and hop?
Escarpment Foggy London (or Lallemand Verdant IPA if I’m going with dry yeast), Weyerman Pilsner Malt, and Mosaic.
Do you have a name for your homebrewery?
HeBrews It Brewing Co. (@hebrewsitbrewing on Instagram)