Saturday, November 2nd is the 14th annual Learn to Homebrew Day, spearheaded by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA). This global event was established to encourage people to learn how to brew from fellow homebrewers.
There are more than 80 events taking place at breweries, homebrew shops and garages across the world. Not far from Ottawa, the Cornwall HomeBrew Club is taking over a local restaurant and have invited speakers from the industry to talk about homebrewing.
To get a glimpse into the world of homebrewing we'll be posting interviews with Ottawa homebrewers all week leading up to November 2nd – and maybe they'll encourage you to brew your own beer!
Ottawa Beer Events: Tell us a little about yourself and how long you've been home brewing.
Nick Pruiksma: I've been homebrewing for a little over 4 years now. I started early mid 2009, I think…
What got you interested in making your own beer?
Well, I love beer for one! Further, I've had "a thing" for beer ever since my wife and I went to Scotland, England and Wales in 2006 and I absolutely fell in love with their pub culture and their beer. I was disappointed to see the British beer styles sadly under-represented by North American craft breweries. A friend of mine shares the same love and passion for British ales so we decided to start brewing our own.
Can you tell us about how you home brew (your set up)? How large are your batches?
I brew all-grain batches in both 5 and 10 gallon size batches, but lately I've been mostly doing 10. I use a 10 gallon Rubbermaid cooler with 2 stainless steel braids (from hot water heater hoses) serving as my "false bottom", which is pretty typical for all-grain brewers. My hot liquor tank (for heating the water) is a 15 gallon pot and my boil kettle is a 19 gallon pot. I also use a pump to move the liquid from one vessel to another and a plate chiller to cool the wort down after the boil.
What's your favourite beer you've made so far?
Wow…tough call. Surprisingly I like my American pale ale recipes the best, despite my previously mentioned affinity for British styles. While I like the British styles better, I feel I've been able to "nail" the American pale ale style better so far.
What's the best advice you can give to new home brewers?
Don't be afraid or intimidated. If you want to homebrew, do it! There's a lot of info out there to help get you started, both with online forums, blogs as well as books and magazines. Start out at a level that you're comfortable with and go from there. I'd recommend starting with Charlie Papazian's "The Complete Joy Of Homebrewing". Charlie is pretty much the God-father of the homebrewing hobby, and while there's more up-to-date or comprehensive texts on the subject out there now, Charlie's book, in my opinion, embodies the spirit of homebrewing and is a great place to start.
Lastly, remember that your process matters more than your gear or your equipment. Homebrewing can be a gear-heavy hobby if you let it, and there's nothing wrong with that, but great beer can be brewed on the simplest of set-ups and bad beer can be brewed on the most elaborate. Your process matters more than anything. Work on perfecting your process before spending lots of money on gear you might not need.