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Homebrew FAQ

How do I join BrewVIC?
Joining BrewVIC is a snap – just come out to our next meeting. We’re an informal group that meets monthly. We collect no membership dues.The best place to connect online with members is in the Facebook group. That’s where you’ll also see upcoming events. See you there!

Where are the local homebrew shops in Victoria?
There are a few homebrew ingredient shops around town that will have most of the supplies for all-grain brewing. The ‘best’ one probably depends on your location.

  • Happy Homebrewer (101-3145 Jacklin Road)
    • Duncan at Happy Hombrewer stocks all the ingredients you’ll need for nearly every style of beer. He has a wide range of domestic and imported malts and hops and a great range of yeast.
  • Hobby Beers & Wines (1302 Finlayson Street)
    • Gavin at Hobby stocks a number of different malts, some of the most popular hops and liquid and dry yeasts.
  • Askim’s Beer & Wine (1125 Haultain Street)
    • Ken at Askim’s also stocks a number of different malts, some of the most popular hops and liquid and dry yeasts.
  • Hamilton Hops & Grapes (464 Burnside Rd E)
    • They stock a number of different malts, hops and yeasts.
  • Google map of homebrew shops in Victoria
What’s the tap-water profile for Victoria?
Victoria has some of the ‘cleanest’ water on earth.

2013 Water Report of treated water below Japan Gulch

Minerals

Calcium (Ca+2): 5.20ppm
Magnesium (Mg+2): 1.2ppm
Bicarbonate (HCO3-1): 17.5ppm
Sulfate (SO4-2): 1.61ppm
Sodium (Na+1): 1.75ppm
Chloride (Cl-1): 4.97ppm

Disinfectants

Chlorine, Total Residual: 1.25ppm
Dichloramine: 0.27ppm
Monochloramine: 0.68ppm
Can I really make beer at home that is as good as store-bought beer?
Yes.
I’ve had Joe’s homebrew, but it tastes… well… funny. Does all “homebrew” taste like that?
While Joe undoubtedly has a good heart (what homebrewer doesn’t?), he might not be the best brewer. Following the right processes, using the right ingredients and tapping your DIY enthusiasm, you can make beer as good as any commercial craft brewer.
Come on – you can’t really make beer as good as the local craft brewers, can you?
Absolutely. Unlike many hobbies, homebrewers can actually get the same ingredients and follow the same processes that the pros use. Spend some time learning the best practices and you’re there.
I’m not much for science or technical stuff. Is there a lot I have to learn before I start?
No. While making great beer takes some thought and care, you don’t need a PhD (but beware, the more you brew, the more you’ll want to learn about Maillards, metabolism, and microbiology). The most important skill required for making great beer is knowing how to clean and sanitize your equipment.
What’s “kit” vs. “extract” vs. “all-grain” brewing?
Kits” are an all-in-one ingredient package for making a beer. The best kits (and they’re really quite good nowadays) consist of 15 litres of pre-made and hopped wort, some yeast and some other odds and sods. You pop the top on the kit, pour it into a fermenter, add a little water and pitch the yeast. Using a macaroni and cheese analogy, this is like buying a frozen package at the grocery store, opening it and popping it in the microwave.
Extract” beers are made from a concentrated malt extract that you rehydrate and boil with hops. Cool the resulting wort and pitch the yeast. This is similar to buying KD – you need to cook the pasta and mix in the cheese-flavoured powder, but it’s still pretty quick an easy.
All-grain” beers are made from the raw ingredients (the same ingredients the pros use). You buy the malted barley, hops, and yeast. You mash the grain, collect the wort and boil it with hops. You chill the wort and pitch the yeast. This is like making baked macaroni and cheese from scratch.  If you like emmenthal instead of cheddar or fusilli instead of macaroni, you make the decisions and customize the recipe to your tastes. It takes more care and time, but it’s a heck of a lot better than anything made in a factory in St. Louis or Creston.
How much does it cost to make a bottle of homebrew?
It depends on what you make. Different beers require different ingredients – an Imperial IPA will cost more than an English Bitter because it uses much more grain and hops to create its intense flavours. Kits (which contain all you need to make beer: concentrated liquid wort and yeast) to make five gallons/23 litres/60 bottles cost about $25 (that’s about $2.50 for a six-pack). All-grain batches (where you buy the grain, hops and yeast separately) cost about the same, but give you the opportunity to customize and fine-tune the beer to your tastes.
How long is a brew day?
This depends on what you make also. A kit beer can literally take about 15 minutes. This involves:

  • washing and sanitizing your fermenter (usually a big bucket or glass carboy);
  • opening the kit,
  • pouring it into the fermenter,
  • sprinkling the yeast

An all-grain batch takes longer – usually about 5-6 hours. This involves:

  • grinding the grain
  • warming the mash water
  • mashing the grain
  • collecting and boiling the wort with the hops
  • cooling the wort to pitching temperature
  • cleaning and sanitizing the fermentor
  • pitching the yeast
How long from brew day to beverage?
Yes, this depends also. Simple, ‘small’ ales like English Bitters can be ready to drink in a couple of weeks. Complex, ‘big’ lagers like Dopplebocks can take months to mature to their best.
Where should I go to get my stuff?
Victoria has a lot of great homebrew shops.

…are great places to start. A ‘starter’ equipment kit will run you about 60 bucks.

Why bother?
If you’re the kind of person that would rather have a Big Mac and a Canadian than visit the butcher shop and refill a growler at The Moon, homebrewing is probably not for you. Homebrewing is a hobby that’s more about craft than consumption. It’s more creativity than conformity.If making something with your own hands for yourself and those you care for excites you, then give homebrewing a try.
One more thing…how about distilling alcohol?
Distilling/making moonshine is illegal (for good reason). Do it incorrectly and you could go blind or blow up your house – for reals, dude. There are no such risks with making beer at home (and it’s on the up-and-up as far as the boys in blue are concerned).




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