The road to making your own homemade beer is easier than ever, thanks to a few modern conveniences and a booming provincial brewing scene.
For years, the standard home brewing equipment included buckets, tubes, and a carboy (the large globular bottle with a narrow neck). More recently, conical fermenters have hit the market, eliminating the need for transferring or racking, which means significantly less work. The deluxe equipment kit (including all necessary equipment, minus ingredients) will run you $169.99 at Brewery Lane (286 Torbay Road).
In terms of ingredients, you have three options: the cans of hopped extract, the standard homebrew kits, and making your own hop-grain mix. The cans of extract require the addition of sugar (usually dextrose), which often gives the finished product a “this tastes like homebrew” taste.
“There’s a difference between homemade beer and homebrew,” says Mike Burke of Brewery Lane, who likens home brewing to cooking:“If you use subpar ingredients, you’ll get a subpar result.”
The standard brew kits are the best for most beginners, since a lot of the work is already done. The beer kits come in all varieties, from cerveza to stout, so Burke provides guidance to first-time buyers based on what they usually like to drink. Going one step up in complexity are the allgrain brews.Different types of grains lead to different qualities, and the appearance, aroma, flavor, and color are all dictated by the grains used, as well as the qualities of the hops.
Costing approximately $35-40 for a hop-grain batch, and around $50 for a kit, it’s usually a question of how much of your time you want to spend.
One person who opted to turn their homemade beer hobby into a profession is Alicia MacDonald of Port Rexton Brewing Co. Ltd. “I began with wine and jumped into beer kit brewing shortly after,” says MacDonald. After discovering all-grain brewing, she started building her own all-grain propane system. “I enjoy building things and piecing together a workable and efficient system.”
There are tons of homebrew groups around NL (Newfermenters, Middle Of Nowhere Club, Gander Home Brew Club, NL Artisanal and Craft Beer Club, Newfoundland Home Brewers), along with the bounty of the Internet (YouTube) to support every brewing question, from recipe development to system design.
“It’s easy to be overwhelmed for first-time brewers, so collab brewing with a buddy is always a great way to know if you’re interested in the craft prior to jumping in,” says Alicia. “I’d advise anyone and everyone who has been home brewing, and that is thinking of starting a breweryto go for it!” says MacDonald.
“We recently just took that leap of starting a brewery and every step is very fresh in our minds.” Port Rexton Brewing hosted a “So You Want to Start a Brewery” session at the Port Rexton Brewery with a social on April 14th and a brew day on April 15th, including business plan development, financials, NLC requirements, funding opportunities and much more.