How much do Canadians love beer? Enough to spend CA$9.2 billion on the stuff in the 2017/2018 financial year, that’s how much. That’s even just a little bit more than you could win playing progressive jackpot or online roulette!
If you as passionate about the amber-coloured nectar as most Canadians are, why not let your passion fuel your creativity, and try brewing your own beer at home?
All you need to do is decide whether you want to make an ale, a lager, or another type of beer, and then find a recipe. You can purchase ingredients and equipment from specialist suppliers, and then you can follow the basic steps below to get brewing!
If you need a bit of inspiration, you could always make your way to the Toronto Oktoberfest at Ontario Place between 26 and 28 September.
Preparing To Brew Beer
Before you start, make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment required.
You do not need too many basic ingredients to brew your own beer at home. The basics include:
- Malted Barley
- Priming sugar or malt extract
The essential equipment you will need includes:
- A boiler or saucepan large enough to hold between 25 and 30 litres
- A 25-litre fermenter or bin made from food-grade plastic
- An air lock
- A capping device
- A thermometer
- Measuring equipment and utensils
- A bottling bucket (a bucket with a spigot)
1. Arguably the most important rule to remember when brewing your own beer at home is to keep EVERYTHING meticulously clean. Powered brewery washes can help with this.
2. Do not use abrasive cleaning equipment on plastic. It will scratch the surface and you will never ever get those scratches clean.
3. Rinse everything well, especially if you have used bleach. Ensure you use distilled water.
4. Make sure all cleaning, as well as the measuring of ingredients, is done before you start.
Brewing Your Beer
1. Put your grains into the boiler or saucepan with 10 litres of hot water (66°C), and then let it steep for 30 minutes. When done, remove the bag. You can let the water in it drip into the pot, but do not squeeze it.
2. Add malt extract (if you are using it instead of malted barley), and then bring to the boil. Follow your recipe’s instructions regarding how much hops to add.
3. When boiling is complete, the liquid is called ‘wort’. Cool it by stirring it gently for a few minutes, or by putting the pot into a container or sink filled with ice water. When the temperature reaches 27°C, pour the wort into your fermenter. Strain the wort while pouring it.
4. Add enough distilled water to make 20 litres, and then add the yeast. You may need to activate it first by mixing it will a little warm water.
5. Put the lid onto the fermenter, and then attach the airlock to the top. You need to limit how much air the wort is exposed to.
6. If you are making ale, put the fermenter in a dark place in which room temperature is consistent. If you are making a lager, you will need to refrigerate the wort to ensure fermentation takes place.
7. Wait 24 hours, and then check that the air lock is bubbling. If there is still no sign of bubbles after 48 hours, discard the batch, clean and sterilise your equipment, and start over.
Bottling Your Beer
1. A week after beginning fermentation, your air lock should be far less active. Check it, and then leave it for another week or so.
2. When you are ready to bottle your beer, you will need to add priming sugar or malt extract, which assists with carbonation. If using sugar boil it in some water, allow it to cool, and add it to your beer.
3. Transfer the beer from the fermenter to the bottling bucket using a clean plastic tube as a siphon. Avoid getting sediment from the fermenter into the bottling bucket.
4. Fill your bottles, remembering to leave some airspace, and then cap them.
5. Age your bottles of beer at room temperature for one or two weeks, and then store them in the fridge.
6. When you are ready to crack open your first home-brewed cold one, remember to pour it slowly. Leave a little in the bottle to avoid getting any sediment into your glass. Enjoy!
Finding What You Need
Home-brewing beer equipment and ingredients are readily available in Canada. You can order almost everything you need online, or you can purchase it at a specialist store.
Among them are La Cachette du Bootlegger in Montreal, John’s Home Brew on Prince Edward Island, Fermentations in Toronto, and West Coast U Brew in Vancouver. Good luck!