Category Archives: Odds and Sodds

Welcome to Brauhaus… a celebration of homebrewing in Toronto

Brauhaus2_GenericToronto’s beer scene is exploding at a furious pace. Beer related events are happening all across the city. Most of them are duly celebrating the commercial breweries, but that is not the whole story. Homebrewing is taking Toronto by storm, and few of these events, as of yet, have celebrated this burgeoning homebrewing scene. Brauhaus is here to change that.

Founded by Doug Appeldoorn, Crystal Luxmore, Scott & Nicole Stewart, and Carlos Santos, Brauhaus was created to celebrate homebrewers and to introduce people to the amazing beers that are being brewed in people’s kitchens and backyards in and around the city. They are a wonderful group of people who are passionate about their beer and are working hard to spread the gospel to all who will listen.

Homebrewers by nature push the envelope in ways that bigger brewers may find difficult, due to financial restrictions and/or the potential loses involved. Throw a bunch of strange herbs or fruit in there? sure! Throw 1/2lb of hops in at 10mins? sure! Use up some pumpkin from the fridge? Well you get the picture…

Brauhaus GlassI had the honor, along with my fellow homebrewers, Zack Weinberg of Toronto Brewing, Brad Clifford, now head brew master at Get Well Bar, and Richard Sigesmund, to pour my Muddy York Porter and Hoptomology Pale Ale at the first inaugural Brauhaus this past November. We all had a blast sharing great beer, and meeting lots of new friends who share the common love of our favourite beverage.

To find out what Brauhaus has in store for future events, you can become a member by joining here.

So get out there and experience the forefront of home brewing right here in Toronto!

Cheers!

 

Visiting Creemore Spring’s Copper Kettle Festival…

Summertime is abundant with Beer Festivals of all sorts. Every year there seem to be new ones popping up all over the place as people are getting inspired discovering the incredible diversity among Ontario’s growing craft beer scene.

One of the forerunners of the craft beer scene here in Ontario is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary, Creemore Springs Craft Brewery. Despite being bought out by Molson’s in 2005, the brewery has managed to maintain a certain level of credibility, thanks to the new owner’s respecting the success and capability that Creemore had established with their brewery.

Every summer, the brewery sponsor’s the “Copper Kettle Festival” that’s held in the main section of town. We’ve been meaning to visit for the last couple of years, so we decided to stop in while on our way up to the cottage for a week’s vacation. Creemore is a picturesque little town located about 2 hours northwest of Toronto. The homes are gorgeous, turn of the century style farmhouses with patterned brickwork. All of which have been incredibly maintained by their owners.

The Festival draws a good crowd and Continue reading

Thoughts from a brewer in training…

I love that my friends appreciate beer. I can see it in their eyes every time they ask if I have something new to try. Bless their hearts, because good or bad, they continue to encourage me. When they visit our house, they’re eager to check out the cellar and brewing gear, the mixed array of kegs, pots,buckets of grain, and any other wild contraptions that I’ve made. They’ve been incredibly supportive in my endeavors to become a brewer. From the first few batches of undrinkable sludge, we’ve both laughed at the folly of my efforts. At the same time I was looking intently into the mistakes and what made things turn out the way they did. That’s one of the many things I love about brewing, at every turn, there is something to learn, something that you didn’t think about, or forgot about doing, or a part of the process that you didn’t yet have eyes for.

They encourage me to brew more of my own recipes because they want me to succeed at creating great beer and want me to carve out my own style, and I appreciate that. Recently I’ve been trying to clone certain beers that I love. My thoughts are that when learning a new instrument, it’s best to start by learning covers of your favourite songs in order to gain an understanding about how that instrument works and how to get it to do what you want. The same thing goes for brewing. I find trying to clone a beer that you love is a great exercise. You have a set goal of what you’re trying to achieve, you’re not just shooting in the dark. Chances are, you won’t nail it the first time, (or you might) but you’ll learn something along the way, perhaps many things. What malts give you the character you’re looking for? In what proportions do you need them? What temperature to mash at? how to get the body? the hop character? With so many variables, it’s a great exercise in getting to know how to build a recipe. There are as many different ways to brew as there are brewers, and no one way is correct. Finding my way through all of it is what I find so exciting. I must acknowledge that I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now if it weren’t for all the people out there who have shared their advice, experiences, successes and failures. I thank you. It’s so wonderful to be a part of a community that helps everyone with the bottom line: better beer, and who doesn’t want that?

Just my thought for the day…

Cheers!

 

 

How to make Pickles… that’s right, Pickles.

Yep, you read that correctly….

I’m going to step away from beer for a moment and talk about another one of my favourite fermented products, pickles. Over the last couple of summers I’ve tried to grow various cucumbers and have had no success. My mother and father in law have grown them successfully for years, and I’m quite jealous. Fortunately they know how much I love them, so they always have some to share. My failure may have been due to improper soil composition, soil pH, or perhaps the variety of cucumbers I had planted. In any case, they didn’t grow. This summer I thought I’d try something new and maximize the growing capacity of my backyard even more by building a planter box on the side of my garage. It gets plenty of sun, which cucumbers need and love. They are also ideal candidates for trellising, so I figured it would be the perfect spot.

I chose to try 4 different varieties to see which one(s) grow best.

Continue reading