Category Archives: News

Announcing Brew Slam 2023 - Homebrew Competition

Click Here to go to the main competition page.

Press Release

September 1st, 2023 - Toronto, ON

Inquiries about Brew Slam 2023 should be sent to:

GTA Brews is excited to announce our sixth annual nation-wide homebrew competition for beer, mead, and cider: Brew Slam 2023 (#BrewSlam)!

The competition has been on hiatus since 2019 due to the global pandemic and the club is so excited to finally bring the competition back for 2023! We are so thankful for the entrants and judges that reached out to us the past few years to express their desire to see the competition come back, and we can't wait to return to building on 2019's massive success. That competition saw 819 entries from 281 entrants representing 9/10 provinces, judged by 77 judges over just 3 days, which made it the largest homebrew competition in Canada!

We are ecstatic to have homebrewing luminary Annie Johnson attending as our guest judge of honour (Oct 27-29) to help ring in our 6th year!

Continue reading Announcing Brew Slam 2023 - Homebrew Competition

Farewell People's Pint

A Brief History Of A Place For Homebrewers and Craft Beer Lovers

It started as a collective; an inclusive one that was focused on homebrewed beers made by passionate homebrewers. These beers, and the brewers that made them, were then featured at small batch events around the city of Toronto.  That collective was what was known as The People's Pint and the gentlemen behind that collective were Doug Appledoorn and Pietro Ciara. 

That was 2016. 

By 2017 Doug and Pietro were searching for a permanent space for their collective and events but also to brew their own beers.

By mid 2018 an opportunity presented itself. Junction Craft Brewing were moving out of their space on Cawthra Ave and Doug and Pietro had found a permanent home for People's Pint. 

They continued to host events that focused on, and supported, the homebrew community, and GTA Brews in particular, including: 

  • A homebrew tap takeover for Toronto Beer Week
  • Learn2Brew days
  • Off Flavour Tasting sessions 
  • Being a sponsor for BrewSlam (GTA Brews Premier National Homebrew Competition)
  • A rotating GTA Brews guest tap serving GTA Brews members homebrew to the public
  • Hosting Club Meetings, the Club Barrel (fills and empties), and Hop Buy Pick Ups / Sorting

They also were active in the industry by ensuring their brewery was a space that was safe, inclusive, and welcoming to all who wanted to partake, learn and enjoy craft beer regardless of creed, colour or sexuality. 

They were also one of the first breweries in Toronto to "employ" a brewery cat via the SPCA; Maris was quite unique for some time!

On top of all of that Doug and Pietro and all others who worked with them were friends, homebrewers and individuals to be admired. 

So, now that they have closed their doors, Peoples Pint, the brewery space, will be missed but Peoples Pint, the ideal, will live on.  

Thank you to Pietro, Doug, Angie, Chris, Chris, Adam, Alex, Deaglan, Jeff, and everyone else that welcomed us as GTA Brews members, fellow homebrewers and cherished friends into the warm space you built.  

That space, of course, will be missed. 

(To interact with homebrewers and for photos of People's Pint, please visit our Facebook page)

The Story of Ed Hitchcock's 22 Year Old Lambic

Foreword by Eric Cousineau:

The tale of Ed's 22 year old lambic-style beer is legendary among GTA Brews members that were present in the 2016-2017 era. I was recently talking to some newer members and realized that we needed to document this story in a format more lasting than word of mouth.

Some readers might be yelling at their screens right now that true Lambic can only be made in Senne Valley region of Belgium. Ed is right there with you and readily admits this was more of a lambic-style beer or methode traditionelle (MT) beer. However at the time when the beer was brewed, homebrewers were used to playing more fast and loose with these kinds of appellations.

I've had the pleasure of trying both versions of this beer several times over the years, and they were both wonderful!

After contacting Ed to ask his thoughts on how we could best document this, he recommended we use a version of the letter he wrote the the Sour Hour Podcast in 2017, which has been slightly modified for GTA Brews.

So without further ado, lets get into the story!

Ed's Letter to The Sour Hour (Updated for GTA Brews):

Read on air of The Sour Hour podcast, Episode 70, 11 mins in.

I am sure that anyone reading this will appreciate the symbiotic nature of homebrewing and a desire to learn more about as many beer styles as possible. One of the unique beer styles that is wholly intriguing for both complexity and mystique is Belgian Lambic, so of course I decided I would try to brew one. More or less following Guinard’s book (from the Classic Beer Styles series) I made a wort of pale malt, unmalted wheat and aged Hallertau hops, and – as was the recommendation at the time – did a primary ferment using Wyeast 1056 before doing a secondary ferment with the Wyeast Lambic blend. My understanding at the time was that wood was necessary for proper growth of the Brett and bacteria, so I chopped a log of birch into kindling, torching the exposed ends to sterilize them but leaving the fresh wood where it was split untouched, and tossed that in. It sat in a glass carboy for a while, but then I had to move, so I transferred the beer and the wood to a stainless corny keg and sealed it up.

And here is where it gets interesting, because life sometimes throws curveballs…

A year later I moved to Europe, and when I moved back I had young kids. It was a while before I got back into homebrewing, and when I did, I decided something had to be done with the keg that was sitting patiently under the stairs at my parent’s cottage. Until I cracked it, it was kind of like Schroedinger’s cat (Schroedinger’s vat?) in that it existed in a superposition of states, both bad and good, and there was no way to know which way it would resolve until I opened it. Fortunately, it was still good - quite good in fact -so I split the batch and bottled half straight and half after a refermentation with raspberries.

Now if you are following along, you will notice that some time has passed, but I have been somewhat cagey as to just how much time. I brewed the beer in February 1994. I bottled it in the summer of 2015, twenty one and a half years later. My son was born a month after I brewed it, and was legal to drink in the US by the time it was bottled.

Eight months later the straight Lambic won best of show at a local competition with about a hundred entries (Editor: It was Spring Showdown 2016), and six months after that the Framboise won a major award at a much larger competition (Editor: It was Brew Slam 2016). While it did not medal in the BOS, it moved on to a side award sponsored by one of the local breweries as one of the top 10 beers from the greater Toronto area (a smaller field of merely 400 entries, versus the full competition of 600), and in that challenge it won hands down. The award, called the Henderson Cup, was a cash prize and an opportunity to design and brew a beer on Henderson’s 20HL system for one of their monthly special releases.

Ed Hitchcock receiving the Henderson Cup at Brew Slam 2016 Awards

Note from Ed in November 2022:

Now in 2022, I only have two bottles left (one of each), now seven years in the bottle and almost twenty nine years old. The last time I had one it was thin and had lost a lot of complexity, and I’m just waiting for a special moment to finish the last two; but once they are gone, that’s it. I’m not likely to repeat this - unless I decide to brew something now for my 80th birthday - but if anyone reading this is looking for a challenge, by all means give it a go!

April Meeting - All Things Malt Related with Devin Huffman of Barn Owl Malt

Date: Monday April 12th, 2021
Time: 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM

GTA Brews Members: You must login to see the link and password. If you have logged in and cannot see them, please refresh the page.

This month we’re excited to have Devin Huffman, founder and head maltster of Barn Owl Malt in Belleville, join us to talk about different varieties of barley, how to read and use a malt Certificate of Analysis, and more!

As with any conference call, please mute your microphone if you aren't speaking, this really helps cut down on background noise. During Q&A segments we will make use of the "Raise Hand" feature.

Continue reading April Meeting - All Things Malt Related with Devin Huffman of Barn Owl Malt

March Meeting - Tropical Stouts With Victor North (Virtual Tasting)

Date: Monday March 8th, 2021
Time: 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM

GTA Brews Members: You must login to see the link and password. If you have logged in and cannot see them, please refresh the page.

This month we have Niagara College's Victor North joining us, to walk us through a virtual tasting! Join us to hear Victor talk about the Tropical Stout style as well as to walk us through tastings of local versions of this style from Little Beasts Brewing and Saulter Street Brewery!

As with any conference call, please mute your microphone if you aren't speaking, this really helps cut down on background noise. During Q&A segments we will make use of the "Raise Hand" feature.

Continue reading March Meeting - Tropical Stouts With Victor North (Virtual Tasting)

GTA Brews Board Elections 2021

The GTA Brews Board of Directors consists of 5 seats, each elected by the members for a 2 year term. Our current Board of Directors (Eric Cousineau, Bear Alberico, Jim Bruce, David Larocque, Rob Towle) were installed at incorporation in December 2019, and are now at the end of their terms.

Our Founding President, Eric Cousineau, has opted not to seek re-election as President this term, and will instead seek election as an At-Large Director. See his message to members here.

Board Positions


The President is an Executive Director, Chair of the Board, and has general supervision over all affairs of the club. Along with the rest of Board, they are responsible for setting the vision/direction/priorities of the organization, and making sure things get done.


The Vice-President is an Executive Director, Vice-Chair of the Board, and is responsible for assisting the President in managing the club.


The Treasurer is an Executive Director, and responsible for managing the finances and transactions of the club. They also make sure that the club complies with our annual filing requirement as a non-profit corporation.

At-Large Directors (Two Seats)

The Board also consists of two non-Executive At-Large Directors. These individuals are full Board members that participate in setting the vision/direction/priorities of the organization. They may have other duties as designated by the Board.

Election Process

The next Board of Directors shall be elected by the voting members represented at the GTA Brews AGM on Feb 21st.

Continue reading GTA Brews Board Elections 2021

Message from the Outgoing President, Eric Cousineau

To the GTA Brews community,

I've had a wonderful eight years as Founding President of this homebrew club, and I'm so incredibly proud of everything that we have accomplished during my time at the helm.

Presenting awards at Brew Slam 2019

We've grown so much from six people brewing a Citra SMASH in my old condo back in April 2013. We've grown into Canada's largest and best homebrew club! A club of almost 400 members that hosts fantastic events like our monthly meetings, raises significant funds for charities like Caf-Can and CAMH, provides invaluable services like our hop and grain bulk buys, and organizes internationally renowned homebrew competitions like Brew Slam.

The time has come to me to hand the torch to new leadership so that the club can continue to grow and flourish. Some of you may remember that during my speech at the 5 Year Anniversary Party, I said that I wanted to be down in the crowd cheering when the 10 Year Anniversary Party came around. I'm excited that I have the chance to make that happen now.

Continue reading Message from the Outgoing President, Eric Cousineau

Brew Slam 2020 Cancelled Due to COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GTA Brews has decided to cancel this year's iteration of our annual Brew Slam homebrew competition.

As soon as we went into lockdown back in the spring, we started getting questions from homebrewers across Canada asking us what our plans were for Brew Slam 2020. We held off making any firm decision as long as we could, with the hope that the situation would improve and we could continue as planned.

After months of waiting and internal discussion, the club has decided not to proceed with a competition this year. We are aware of the virtual homebrew competition trend that some clubs in the US have been championing, but we didn't feel this would be appropriate for Brew Slam. We also considered a smaller virtual only competition, but didn't feel this was something we wanted to pursue at this time.

We are looking forward to coming back with Brew Slam 2021, and can't wait to make it better than ever before. For now, we are sending out best wishes to all Canadian homebrewers and their families, and hope you are honing your recipes with plenty of homebrewing. The competition is sure to be fiercer than ever in 2021 when we, and the rest of the BOTY circuit, return!

Cheers from the Brew Slam Crew!

April Club Update

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to require us to practice social distancing, so we will continue to postpone or go virtual with club gatherings until it is safe to return to normal.

This means we will not be able to host the hop split in April. We are still planning to split and distribute our hops as soon as it is safe to do so, and the hops are still safe and sound in the freezer at the suppliers. We don't have any update about the May BJCP Tasting Exam or Learn2Brew yet.

In the meantime please continue to support our local homebrew shops during this difficult time. Toronto Brewing is online only at the moment, and is shipping orders as fast as they can. Homebrew Beer Academy is accepting online orders and allowing no contact pick up, and also doing drop off in parts of the GTA.

Please also continue to support our local breweries. So many of them have supported the club over the year, and the closure of bars, restaurants, and taprooms has a big impact on them. Most of them are offering online orders or local drop off, so if you can, please support them in this time of need.

David Chang-Sang has been hosting weekly (or more) Zoom hangouts with to provide a social outlet to discuss beer and other things. Keep your eyes on the Facebook Discussion Group for those. Our Social FB Chat has also been fairly active, feel free to join that if you want to hang out!

COVID-19: Spring Event Schedule Adjustments

Dear GTA Brews Members,

Out of an abundance of caution of the ongoing COVID-19 / CoronaVirus pandemic, the GTA Brews Board of Directors have decided that it is prudent to re-examine and adjust our schedule of spring events.

Hop Buy Postponed

Hop Buy participants have already been notified that it has been postponed from the original date of Sunday March 22nd. We will announce a new date for in a few weeks, but we are aiming for mid-late April, depending on how the virus situation develops.

The hops will stay fresh in the freezer at the supplier, so we don't lose anything by postponing. The cider part of the hop buy will not be postponed since it has already been pressed, frozen, and delivered to our temporary holding location (The Homebrew Beer Academy). Instructions will be sent to people that purchased cider once we work out the details.

Club BOTY Entry Shipping On Hold

(Updated March 16th, 2020)

The situation has continued to escalate, and many local businesses have closed, including our drop off locations. We felt it wasn't appropriate to ask any new drop off locations so we have decided that we will put a hold on club shipping until further notice.

This includes the ALES Open shipping deadline that was set for March 21st. We will refund any shipping fees that have been paid to the club. At the moment ALES is proceeding with their competition, and not offering to refund entry fees. We hope they will change their mind, but this is outside the control of the club. If you would still like to enter the competition, you will need to manage your own shipping for the time being.

We will re-evaluate entry shipping for later comps in a few weeks.

Grain Buy Postponed

Due to the Hop Buy being pushed back to April, we are pushing the Grain Buy back to May. We were almost ready to launch the sign up, but will now hold off until a new pick up date in mid-late May can be solidified.

April Club Meeting

The April meeting is currently scheduled for Monday April 20th, due to Easter Monday falling on our traditional 2nd Monday of the month. At this time there are no changes planned for this event.

Spring Showdown Cancelled

Our annual Spring Showdown competition was in the initial planning stages to take place in early May, but we have decided to cancel the competition. With the Grain Buy moving back to May, and the uncertainty around additional event schedule changes that may be needed, we felt this was the best choice we could make.

Planning and running homebrew competitions is one of the most effort intensive things we undertake as a club. Given the evolving virus situation, and the other events that have moved back, we didn't feel we could still put together the kind of competition we want to run.

We would like to thank The Homebrew Beer Academy for offering to come in as our title sponsor for Spring Showdown this year. This gesture is very much appreciated, and we hope our members will appreciate it as well.

If the opportunity arises we may consider running another competition in the early summer. However it is just as likely that we may decide it is wise to focus our efforts on Brew Slam instead.

BJCP Beer Judging Exam in May

There is a BJCP Beer Judging Exam scheduled for Saturday May 23rd. At this time we aren't planning any changes to this event.

Learn2Brew for Canadian Homebrew Day

Canadian Homebrew Day is scheduled for Sunday June 7th, 2020. Due to the static nature of the national date, we are planning to stay the course on planning this event. We are looking to run another multi-site Learn2Brew again this year.

Thank you for your understanding, we hope you can appreciate that these changes are the responsible direction to go. The health and safety of our members is important to us, and we felt that postponing our events would limit unnecessary exposure to others during our busy events.

One last note; please support our local breweries and businesses in these uncertain times. As more people are electing to stay in, our local breweries and homebrew shops will undoubtedly see a reduction in foot traffic through their doors. Please consider buying some beer to drink at home from their retail shops, or even from their online stores.

Thanks again for reading this letter! We are sending our best wishes of happiness and health to each of you, and your families.

GTA Brews Board of Directors

(Eric Cousineau, Bear Alberico, Jim Bruce, Rob Towle, David Larocque)

Announcing Brew Slam 2019 - Homebrew Competition

Click Here to go to the main competition page.

Press Release

August 26th, 2019 - Toronto, ON

Inquiries about Brew Slam 2019 should be sent to:

GTA Brews is excited to announce our fifth annual, nation-wide, homebrew competition for beer, mead, and cider; Brew Slam 2019 (#BrewSlam)! We are excited to build on last year’s massive success which saw 826 entries, from 191 entrants, in 8/10 provinces, judged by 75 judges, over just 3 days, making this the largest homebrew competition in Canada! We are ecstatic to have John Palmer attending as our guest of honour (Nov 8-10) to help ring in our 5th year!

This is a BJCP sanctioned competition, and also part of the Canadian Brewer of the Year (BOTY) circuit. The judging will take place at Amsterdam Brewery (Leaside) from Nov 8th to 10th. Judging will be performed by BJCP ranked judges and pro brewers, using the BJCP 2015 Guidelines and Provisional Styles.

Continue reading Announcing Brew Slam 2019 - Homebrew Competition

September Guest: Kveik with Lars Marius Garshol

At our July meeting we announced that Lars Marius Garshol (of Larsblog) will be attending our September club meeting (Sept 9th). He'll be in town for Escarpment's Kveikstokk on Sept 10th, and agreed to come check out our club meeting and taste some homebrewed kveik beers!

Escarpment Labs' Richard Preiss will also be in attendance, making this a double Kveik whammy! As many of you know Richard has been a huge proponent of kveik, and have driven significant research into this exciting family of yeast.

Lars is responsible for the popularizing this workhorse yeast in the home and craft brewing world. This article from Good Beer Hunting does an excellent job telling the story about how Lars documented and popularized Kveik yeast.

Continue reading September Guest: Kveik with Lars Marius Garshol

Welcome to GTA Brews

We are Toronto's local homebrew club and our goal is to help our members learn how to make the best beer/mead/cider possible! We run events, competitions, bulk buys, and lots more. Club Meetings are the 2nd Monday of each month. Join as a Member to get access to all our events and services. Keep up with our latest news:

Join on Facebook: GTA Brews Facebook Discussion Group
This group serves as the main discussion hub for over 2000 local homebrewers. Ask your brewing questions, and check out what others brewing to get inspired for your next brew!

Sign Up for: GTA Brews Mailing List
New members are automatically added to the mailing list, but anyone can sign up here. Emails consist of Monthly Newsletter and occasional reminders about events/sign-ups.

Announcing Learn2Brew for Canadian Homebrew Day 2019 - June 1st

June 1st, 2019 marks the first annual Canadian Homebrew Day! To celebrate, we have moved our annual public Learn2Brew event up from the fall to coincide with this new holiday.

Learn2Brew is a multi-site event where GTA Brews club members share their love of the hobby by demonstrating the brewing process at their local brewery taproom. The goal is to help demystify the brewing process and convince craft beer enthusiasts to give the hobby a try.

Visit the Learn2Brew page for full details of the event including the partner brewery addresses, and list of participating local homebrewers.

Help Support the Modernization of Ontario Homebrewing Regulations

GTA Brews is calling for every Ontario homebrewer to join us in asking the Government of Ontario to modernize the framework regulating the consumption of homebrew at events. Homebrew clubs sit at the center of the homebrewing community, and modernization of homebrewing regulation would enable them to continue to grow the hobby in Ontario.

Over the years we have run into many hurdles while planning homebrewing focused events. We have compiled a list of issues we see with the current framework, and elaborated them in the form of a letter. We are asking Ontario homebrewers to send this letter to their MPP, and cc the Minister of Finance. This will show the Government of Ontario that the citizens of our province want to see this included in their plan to modernize the Alcohol Industry.

Cheers, and thanks in advance for your help!

Eric Cousineau
President, GTA Brews

If you have any questions or comments about this letter, please email

How To Help

Step 1) Find Your Local MPP
- Use this tool to find your local MPP using Postal Code

Step 2) Create a new email draft with subject:
Request for Modernized Homebrewing Regulations in Ontario

Step 3) Address the email to
• Your local MPP (from step 1)
• cc/ Finance Minister Vic Fedeli (

Step 4) Copy and paste the letter below then
• Replace [*Local MPP*] with the name of you local MPP
• Replace [*Sender Name*] with your first and last name

Step 5) Send the email, and pass this along to your homebrew friends!

Letter to Your MPP

Dear [*Local MPP*],

The Government of Ontario is currently consulting with the public on opportunities to modernize the rules for the sale and consumption of alcohol. I support the general intent of modernizing a highly regulated sector, however I wanted to express my desire to see some targeted modernization efforts for the consumption of homebrewed beer.

Continue reading Help Support the Modernization of Ontario Homebrewing Regulations

Membership Renewal 2018 - Renew before Oct 1st to avoid initiation fees!

It's that time of year! Time to renew your GTA Brews membership!

CLICK HERE to renew now!

Last year's memberships expire on Oct 1st, so you need the renew soon to maintain your active membership status! Don't forget Fall 2018 Grain Buy is open now, and membership renewal is needed to participate!

As we continue to streamline club operations, we've made a few adjustments to the membership structure. Here's a quick summary of the new format:

  • Dues: $20/year plus $5 initiation fee for new (or lapsed) members
  • Membership is now valid for 1 full year after sign up date, and renewal is automatic each year using the same credit card!
  • Members are welcome to bring household family members to occasional events

Due to a limitation in our membership software we have disabled the $5 initiation fee until Oct 1st, to allow current members to transition into the new membership subscription.

Membership is excellent value, and includes access to fall and spring grain buys, annual winter hop buy, monthly meetings, discounted homebrew supplies at Toronto Brewing, club projects like our barrel project and homebrew advent calendar, and much more!

Membership dues pay for the operating of the club, including paying for web services, advertising, club projects, AV equipment, Specials Occasion Permits from LLBO and more. The club is also planning to incorporate as a non-profit entity in the next 3-6 months, and there are some one-time costs associated with that transition.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Jon Mains

It is with heavy hearts that GTA Brews informs members of the loss of tireless volunteer, competitor, brewer, and friend, Jon Mains. Jon was in a tragic mountain biking accident last Sunday and he passed away peacefully this morning at St. Michael's Hospital. His generous and helpful spirit remains ever-present even at this difficult time. Jon is an organ donor, and he will go on to give the gift of life to those desperately in need.

Anyone who has attended club events, participated in Canadian homebrew competitions, or simply been a regular participant in the club facebook group is likely familiar with Jon. From the monstrous 33 gallon batches that he brewed on his stove in five different vessels, to his endless volunteering efforts as a head steward and judge in Brew Slam and Spring Showdown, to his love for brewing crushable light lagers that put BMC to shame, Jon's passion for this hobby was palpable and his approach utterly unique. And although he was nationally recognized for lager brewing, he would want us to remind you that he medalled in IPA with the best of them.

Jon will be well-remembered and dearly missed by the close friends that met him and came to love him through GTA Brews. At meetings and club events Jon made members both old and new feel instantly at ease with his friendly and welcoming nature. Good conversation came easily to Jon, and many of you will recall that he was always ready to share an engaging discussion, crack a joke, or offer some indispensable piece of brewing advice to anyone he met.

Jon’s passing will be most closely felt by his family and loved ones, who have lost a son, a brother, a partner, or a friend. Discussions are underway among club directors about the best ways to support his family, express the gratitude we feel for having known Jon, and honour his memory. More details will follow.

Critically, if you are hurting and in need of any kind of grief support, please feel free to reach out to other club members or directors to talk. These bleak times do not have to be quite so painful as long as we come together and support each other as a community.

Jon’s funeral date and location are to be determined, but we will keep you informed. The family is asking all friends to kindly forward photos and stories to