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Tip 1: Be patient

It takes time to get the best out of mixed fermentation beers. Wild yeasts work slowly and it can take months or even years for the flavours to develop, so it is important to allow a longer fermentation period for the wild yeasts to finish their work. In addition, wild yeast can produce more complex aromas and flavours, which may require adjustments in the recipe to balance the beer’s profile.

Tip #2: Get separate equipment

Because the fermentation process will take so long, you won’t have another fermenter at your disposal if you only have one. If you use the same fermenter, I recommend using a glass or metal fermenter. Plastic has a bad habit of retaining odors and scratching more easily, making it harder to clean. You also risk contaminating a future brew. It doesn’t take much wild yeast to contaminate a beer, so clean your equipment well!

Tip 3: Make several different brews.

The beauty (and also the flaw) of mixed fermentations is that it’s hard to predict the end result. The presence of different microorganisms is one cause of this problem. If you make several different brews, you can blend and save a brew that would otherwise probably have ended up in the drain. For example, a brew that is too acidic or contains too much tannin can be softened by diluting it with a milder brew. For best results, use high-quality ingredients. Mixed fermentations can bring out the complex flavours of grains, hops and fruits, but they must be of the highest quality to be fully appreciated. Opt for fresh, high-quality ingredients, such as fresh hops, local seasonal fruits and high-quality grains, to create exceptional beers.

Tip #4: Don’t buy oak barrels.

First of all, it’s difficult, and probably more expensive, to get a reasonably sized oak barrel. The ones you see in breweries can hold at least 200 liters of beer! Furthermore, they require a lot of space to store, they must be filled to the top, and they are very time consuming to maintain. The inside of such a barrel must be kept moist, otherwise it will start to leak and the risk of mold growth will increase. Finally, you need the approval of your significant other, which is not always easy! The good news is that there are simple solutions to replace these barrels. Badmotivator Barrels produces reusable and affordable mini barrels. Personally, I use oak chips. One ounce of these chips added to the beer a week before bottling is enough to give you a woody taste similar to a barrel.

Tip #5: You don’t have to be a microbiologist to do mixed fermentations!

You can buy ready-to-use ferments and even ready-to-use ferment blends. Ask your home brew supply store. Even easier, if you’ve tasted a really good mixed fermentation beer at home, save the bottom of the bottle. You can even add fresh fruit (that you grew or picked yourself) and the yeast and bacteria on the surface of it will do the job. That said, still be careful of cross-contamination: wild yeasts are everywhere in the environment, so it is important to take steps to avoid cross-contamination with other brews. You can buy ready-to-use ferments and even ready-to-use ferment blends. Ask your favourite home brew supply store. Even easier, if you’ve tasted a really good mixed fermentation beer at home, save the bottom of the bottle. You can even add fresh fruit (that you grew or picked yourself) and the yeast and bacteria on the surface of it will do the job. That said, still be careful of cross-contamination: wild yeasts are everywhere in the environment, so it is important to take steps to avoid cross-contamination with other beer brews. This can be done by thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing brewing equipment and avoiding practices that can introduce unwanted wild yeast into the brew.

Tip #6: Write to me.

I’ll be happy to help! jclnlachance@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you,

Jocelyn Bernier-Lachance is a home brewer with a decade of experience. He is also a microbiologist who has worked for Lallemand, Gallicus microbrewery and Beer Grains. Today, he wants to share his experience with you to spread his passion for microorganisms and fermentation.

Jocelyn Bernier-Lachance M.Sc., Mcb.A.

Photo by: Magnus Jonasson

To be a great brewer, you must acknowledge that perfecting recipe design is a lifelong process. We often start in one direction, and over time tweak and modify until it is something completely different. This process can take months, or even years to complete, and regularly comes with a lot of frustrations when things don’t turn out just right.

There is a temptation to add a wide variety of grains to create a complex and nuanced flavour profile, but in reality, simplifying your grain bill is what will provide you the most benefit in the long run.

In fact, I have found that anything over 6 types of grain is overkill, and results in a beer that has a muddied flavour profile. Choosing the right grains from the get-go will lead to a more balanced and enjoyable beer.

Base

Base grains provide the foundation on which amazing beers are brewed, and although there are a wide variety to select from, there is rarely benefit in using more than one kind per brew.

Keeping to one type of base grain will help you achieve better consistency, while helping to dial in your mash temperatures. Doing this will improve your overall efficiency and wort extraction. You can adjust your mash profile to provide many of the same benefits you would achieve in blending base grains.
Specialty Grain
Specialty grains are added to the recipe to provide specific flavours and aromas. While it can be tempting to add a large variety of specialty grains to your recipe, using fewer types can actually help to create a more balanced flavour profile.

The desire to layer specialty grains is a natural thought process, wanting to nail that specific flavour you’ve been dreaming of – and there are a huge variety, each promising to deliver some desired characteristic to your beer. However, the small percentages of each that end up being used typically don’t provide the desired effect, and will instead result in a confused flavour profile.

Focusing on a maximum of two varieties will provide the best results, and will be far more likely to deliver the flavours you are searching for.

Colour

Adding grain to achieve a specific colour is a complex process, only made more confusing by attempting to blend many varieties across the Lovibond scale.

The most effective way to achieve your desired colour is to select a single grain, whose flavour compliments your specialty grains, and use it in the right proportion.

Colour has a way of getting out of hand quickly in a grain bill, often resulting in beers that are darker than initially expected. Sticking to one grain will help you make necessary adjustments in future batches.

Head Retention

Foam is an essential part of any beer, and the desire to dial in that frothy head can lead to us adding all kinds of grains to “help”.

Realistically, foam stability is more a factor of process than adding multiple ingredients. Your mash profile is going to have a greater effect on the result than adding in extra adjuncts.

Typically, a small percentage of Carafoam, paired with the right mash profile, will give you the head retention you are looking for. A touch of wheat might be acceptable if you are really struggling to get it dialed in.

Body / Haze

There are a lot of factors that go into creating the body and haze level desired in a beer. Again, process is just as, if not more important than, the grains themselves. Some adjunct grains are appropriate for building the desired profile, but sticking to a maximum of two will ensure you get the results you are looking for without overdoing things.

Conclusion

In conclusion, simplifying your beer recipe and using fewer types of grain can lead to a more balanced and enjoyable beer. By focusing on a few key base and specialty grains, you can achieve a consistent flavour profile, colour, and head retention.

Greetings to all and happy February. With a thousand thoughts on this “Alcohol Free February” that is buzzing around me, I decided to do some research on warm and comforting beer suggestions! These will sit well on your tables, right next to the wood stove, if you are lucky enough to have one. Not that I wanted to be bold here; it is, in fact, very relevant, on a regular basis, to take stock of one’s own alcohol consumption. I leave this personal task to each one of you to do, in your soul and conscience.

For my part, I have made a different choice this year, to savor the present moment, to taste in the light of day each beer that crosses my path, in moderation. So share wonderful moments and heart warming beers with those you love! Get closer to others! And remember that drinking a good microbrewery beer is a social event!

Comforting beers, in a flash

First of all, the idea of a Scotch ale crosses my mind. It has caramel notes, is soft on the tongue and sweet. It’s a round beer that comes to your mouth with a warmth of alcohol. Syrupy, even, it can have notes of candied fruit, candy cane, Cola, cookie, honey, taffy, toffee. It is a beer of choice to face the bitter winter, just like barley wines or American barley wines, which are even stronger.

Then, my senses go to the Belgian type beers, which can come to us in different forms, including dubbel, triple Belgian, quadrupel, etc. These are beers whose body is very heavy. These are beers whose fullness seduces in cold weather. It’s heavy stuff. Its main characteristics, abbreviated here of course, are spicy and fruity esters, often enhanced with coriander seeds. I personally like that little scent of clove that comes up sometimes, at the heart of the beer’s aromas.

I’m also thirsty, in February, for those beautiful, majestic beers that have been aged in barrels. Sometimes those barrels are maple, oak, etc., and sometimes they have held spirits like brandy, bourbon, scotch, whiskey, among others. I also like the complexity that comes from aging beers in barrels that have previously contained wine. This is especially pleasing when aging in pinot noir, burgundy, port, Sauterne barrels! Alcoholic notes and warmth will be present after this stay. Aging is a beautiful thing!

As far as comfort is concerned, my heart also often leans towards the Patisserie Stouts. They offer a superb roasted bitterness, a nice roundness and … sugar. Who doesn’t love a good dessert? Various additives can entertain our taste buds here, including the addition of lactose, molasses, honey, maple syrup, candy sugar and the work on the beer and its malts can reveal in some cases notes of mocha, cocoa, milk chocolate or dark chocolate, fudge, waffle, brioche, espresso, among others! Do you like thrills? Opt for a Stout in all its greatness and prefer its Imperial version, even more complex and strong.

To conclude

Choosing between all the possible variations of cozy beers was much more difficult than doing this research and writing. I would be terribly ungrateful if I did not at least mention, in passing, the beautiful well-malted beers that transport us to roasting, toasted bread and candied fruits! I also like, as a comforting beer, a less heavy beer that puts “winter” fruits in the forefront, such as dates, plums, black currants, figs or black cherries. Also, other warm ideas: Rauchbier or smoked beer, spicy Christmas beers, a Marzën with roasted cereals and spicy notes, a Vienna Lager with caramel notes, the earthy side of the Extra Special Bitter, the density of an Eisbock whose concentration has densified the flavours and the warmth, and why not a Schwarzbier, a beautiful black lager! Have fun, explore these styles, don’t hesitate to ask for advice in your local microbrewery; there is a whole comforting world to discover!

By Paule Gosselin

Jocelyn Bernier–Lachance is a microbiologist with nearly 10 years of experience in home brewing. He has worked for Lallemand and Gallicus Brewery and is now a consultant and microbiologist for Beer Grains.

For centuries, humankind has developed an unstoppable fondness for the beloved Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. In fact, its ubiquity in beer can make it seem as if this special strain of yeast has truly conquered the world! Through careful genetic selection techniques over numerous decades, brewers have been able to rid beers of even unwanted aromas and flavours such as acidity or earthiness – leaving behind a perfectly crafted brew that’s sure to please any palate.

The history of brewing is a fantastic paradox: the pursuit to refine beer directly resulted in an abundance of unique yeast and bacteria, precisely what breweries seek to avoid! Yet ironically, these same organisms were responsible for their discovery. Thanks to modern refinement we have access today not only to many delicious brews but also incredible variety among yeasts and bacteria that remain largely untapped.

A little over a year ago, I decided to experiment with brewing beers from ferments deemed “impure”. I discovered a world of unique flavours with which I instantly fell in love.

This article is the first in a series dedicated to wild ferments and their use in beer production. I hope to break this “micro-racism” that is rampant in the brewing world. Let’s start by familiarizing ourselves with these infamous wild ferments.

It took humans a long time to understand that fermentation is caused by microorganisms. Thus, the first fermented beverages contained both bacteria and yeast, the product of soaking the grain in the open air. Most of the time, these bacteria do not yield significant amounts of alcohol. However, some of them are known to produce large amounts of lactic acid. Why is that?

Lactic acid production is initially a survival strategy. The purpose is to lower the pH to prevent other bacteria from competing for resources. Most bacteria, including those that can make us sick, cannot survive in a pH as low as that produced by these troublesome bacteria. To the delight of our taste buds, they also give off nice aromas by acidifying the environment.

It comes as no surprise then that someone who happened to be passing by decided to experiment with this mixture devised by Mother Nature. It became clear quite early on that it was much safer to consume this product instead of drinking the water available at the time. Thanks to the microbrewery revolution and the general tendency to return to basics and to the terroir, these bacteria are now back in the picture! Today, the two most common species of lactic acid bacteria are Lactobacillus and Pediococcus.

Unlike bacteria, wild yeast are able to survive in a somewhat more acidic pH. Alcohol is simply a waste product generated by the yeast when producing energy from sugars. It is also an antibacterial agent still commonly used today. The best known species is Brettanomyces. These microorganisms are omnipresent in the environment. A significant amount can be found on the skin of fruits, feeding on their sugars once the skin is pierced. They can also be found in great quantities on the malts used to make beer.

The history of brewing is a fascinating one, full of trial and error as brewers sought to perfect their craft. Thanks to the efforts of these early pioneers, we now have access to a wide variety of delicious beers that can please any palate. If you’re interested in learning more about key trends in the craft beer industry, be sure to check out our blog for more tips.

Cheers!

Paule Gosselin is an enthusiastic literature teacher who is passionate about the art of beer brewing. She loves learning about the ingredients and artisanal production of different beers and enjoys sharing her knowledge and love for excellent brewing products through writing. She is always keeping an eye out for new trends in the world of beer.

I recently spoke with Yan Smith, brewer at the microbrewery Le Bien, le Malt in Rimouski. I met him several years ago, when he was taking his first steps in the world of home brewing. He has been a professional brewer for more than 6 years now and I thought his experience could inspire you.

Q: Hi Yan! What kind of equipment do you want to buy when you are a home brewer, and what should you buy to avoid beginner mistakes?

I think that initially, basic equipment that is not too expensive is ideal, as it is important to determine if you are going to enjoy brewing beer, how often, etc. Many people immediately spend on equipment that is not too expensive. A lot of people spend money on fairly expensive systems right away, only to sell their equipment soon after because it wasn’t their cup of tea. If after a few brews, the motivation and passion remain, then you can consider purchasing more professional equipment.
Initially, you can make do with a large pot to boil the wort, a large cooler that you can buy already modified or modify yourself to serve as a mash tun, and finally a glass carboy or a plastic pail for the fermentation. Then, if you really get into it, you can turn to more professional systems which are always more expensive.

Q: What are the really essential technical skills required for the very first home brew?

Personally, I would recommend anyone who wants to get into this wonderful hobby to read the entire book, or at least most of the book How To Brew by John Palmer. In my opinion, it is a must. You should also do a lot of research on home brewing forums and/or Facebook pages. Otherwise, the most important thing in my opinion is to have good equipment cleaning and sanitation practices. It sounds like nothing, but without it, you can quickly run into contamination problems and therefore have to throw away the fruits of your labour.

Q: Where do you source your raw materials as a home brewer?

Ideally, we check if there is a store specialized in home brewing in our area so that we can go there to buy our ingredients and equipment and talk to the salespeople to discuss the subject and the products. Otherwise, there are now a multitude of sites that sell a wide variety of products online and deliver to your home. As a last resort, you can ask your local microbrewery to help you out, but I’m a little less in favour of that option since they usually keep a pretty specific amount of malts/hops/yeast based on their needs.

Q: Where do we get inspiration for our first recipes to brew?

Initially, the easiest way to start is obviously to execute established recipes that can be found on the internet or in magazines. It is very important to taste the different malts we use and to smell the hops as well as the yeast. The more you are in contact with the different ingredients and the more you learn about their particularities, the easier it is to design your own recipes later on. You quickly realize that there is virtually no limit to what you can devise as a recipe.

Q: What good bottling and storage tips would you give to a home brewer?

As far as bottling goes, again, you have to be extra careful about cleaning and sanitizing bottles, tubing, siphons, etc. The greatest danger at this stage is also oxidation, so avoid going too fast and minimize contact with oxygen. You also need to know how much sugar and yeast (if any) to add for refermentation/carbonation in the bottle. Patience is also an important element in achieving the best possible end result, as it often takes two weeks or more to complete the fermentation. Bottles should be at room temperature for this step. If you have the option of having kegs instead of bottles, it greatly simplifies the work and the risks of oxidation, as well as a much shorter waiting time before the product is ready.

Q: Feel free to mention any good tips you wish you had when you were first starting out in home brewing

In the end, my advice is to always be stricter on cleaning and sanitizing procedures, don’t use tap water for brewing, otherwise treat it accordingly. Favour osmosed, distilled or demineralized water. Be able to measure the pH at different stages of brewing. Read the book How To Brew by John Palmer.

Happy home brewing to all!

Written by: Dominique Labre, creator and lead member of the Ottawa’s Homebrew Society

If there’s something I know about myself, it is that I always had a glassware obsession. My love for a cool vessel to drink out of predates my years of homebrewing. I always had many variations of juice glasses, wine glasses, shots, coffee mugs, and espresso cups. There was a time when I could not drive by a Value Village or an antique store without having a quick look at their glassware section.

Thankfully, I always manage to control my urge to buy the massive 3-litre Steins, the obscure branding of a brewery or a sports team I’ve never seen before, or the slightly newer Stella Artois chalice to replace the faded and chipped one I had at home. I always had way too many cups on hand, as if I was about to open a café or a bistro! After years of having too many glasses and mugs, I decided to slim down the herd.

A purge occurred, and at the same time, I fell in love with the process of brewing beer. That’s when I decided to renew my love for glassware but also be more selective as to what I keep in the cupboard. I wanted to expand my knowledge of the different shapes, sizes, and origins of glass. It took me a while, but now I have fewer types of beer glassware, but I swear by these 5 styles:

The PintBonde Ale

The basic glass of beer you will find anywhere. From the dive bar downtown to the slickest gastropub in the nice part of town. With its thicker wall and bottom, it often has a bit more weight to it and that gives it a nice sturdy feel in hand. It is good for most styles, which makes it a great general glass to use at home or in bars. It’s an inexpensive glass to produce and therefore it will be what you’ll see in breweries and bars with their brand proudly painted on.

Overall:

The Teku/Bier SommelierAmber style beer

In recent years, TEKU has become the most recognizable glass in the beer world. A vessel that displays wine glass characters. The elegant base with a tall delicate stem leads to a wide cup where the liquid it contains can be visually observed and the aroma rises to a conical chimney-shaped upper rim.

It quickly became my go-to glass for all styles on a fancier dinner. It enhanced the experience of having a nice stout to the hoppier IPA.

Overall:

Belgian Style/TulipWhite or NEIPA beer

With a short stem and a nice, beautiful bowl. This type of glassware has a tulip shape with a rim that pushes out to capture the head and helps create this separation between the foamy top and the round body where the colour of the beer is what we focus on. That shape is incredible in hand, it captures all volatiles all the while allowing the head to form.

Overall

Goblets/ChaliceAmber style beer 2

A majestic work of art. This type ranges from heavy-duty thick glass (Leffe) to a thinner one (Stella Artois). With a stem of different lengths, they always move up to a very dramatic cup. The thinner ones will often have gold or silver rim and the heavy ones will feel like a massive and heavy drinking container that belongs in the hands of a king! The wide mouth is designed to highlight all the aromas being shot out of the glass. With such a massive look, they are made to enhance the look of the beer, by scoring the bottom of the glass creates a never-ending flow of bubbles and improves head retention.

Often used to serve European styles such as Belgians Dark/Strong ales, Dubbel/Tripel/Quads.

Overall:

 

Taster sizeStout Beer

Sometimes you just don’t want the full volume to consume. And no one likes a glass-half-full situation… So, get a sample-size glass!

In 4 oz. size, these are great, they also come in all shapes and styles: mini-pint, mini-barrels, mini-steins, mini-tulips, and mini-goblets. The list goes on and on.

What I love about my selection of sample-size glasses, is the ability to serve my guests a beer flight (4 sample sizes of 4 different beers) and share my most recent homebrews or local craft beers of the week.

Overall:

Of course, I could go on about the many more “Must Have” but I truly believe that with these few types you would be covered to serve all the best beers at home to your guests and always impress!

What I find important is the tactile aspect of selecting my glass. If the cup feels good in your hand or you like how it holds the beer, make the beer colour “Pop”. Then it’s the cup for you. For me it’s the TEKU, it always makes me happy to show how nice my homebrews look in a TEKU.

With its beautiful look, it elevates my beer nice and high above the rest of everyone else’s glass as if it’s a pedestal for nothing but the greatest of drinks. BEER!

 

Ottawa's Homebrew Society

The Ottawa’s Homebrew Society is a local club focused on connecting homebrewers of all levels of expertise, assisting them in improving their brewing skills and to introduce new beer lovers to the amazing hobby of homebrewing.

By Nathalie Coursin

Ah it’s finally here, this month of December that brings with it the official beginning of winter, but also the comforting time of the Holidays. What if this time, we took the opportunity to discover and brew a Christmas beer?

A bit of history…

Before sharing the recipe, let’s go back in time and go directly to the 18th century, in France or in Belgium. At that time, we brewed according to the harvest seasons, but we were also dependent on outside temperatures. The conservation of raw materials was a real challenge. Knowing this, imagine yourself in October at harvest time having to make room for new grains in your storage area. But you still have some grain left over from last year, but don’t like to waste… what do you do?

You make a final brew with the rest of your grains, the ones that have lost their flavour and character over time. Because you put a lot of malt in your brew, the beer becomes rather alcoholic, but the taste leaves something to be desired. To avoid this, you need to add spices. And here you are, in October, brewing a strong and spicy beer that will be ready for… December!

And from there to call this seasonal beer “Christmas beer”, it was only a small step for contemporary breweries.

… A pinch of marketing…

Even if the origin of the name “Christmas beer” cannot be traced with certainty, a correlation with the industrialization of beer and marketing in this industry can be seen. It is very common in France and Belgium to see an increase in the volume of beer sales during the summer and a decrease during the colder months. So how do you break this curve? You just have to make this October beer sellable and attractive to consumers by giving it a specific consumption time: the Holiday season.

And it’s true that it’s still ideal to drink during this period with its warm alcohol content, caramel notes and spicy flavours. As it is not a style in itself, the Christmas beer allows brewers to express themselves and to let their desires and their know-how take over. In France or in Belgium, each Christmas beer is different and their release becomes a mini-event for the breweries. They are even offered to their employees!

For a few years now, we have been observing a change of name to “winter beer” or even “Winter Warmer” in order to avoid that they are consumed only during the Holidays, but rather over a longer period: Great thing!

… And a cup of spices.

But where are we in Quebec, the country of winter by excellence?

Considering the number of references available at this period, it seems that they are not necessarily the best sellers of the moment. Still, some microbreweries have fun releasing an annual brew (with a bonus spice blend) during the holidays. Here are a few examples:

It’s your turn to brew!

If you too have a few old grains in stock and some spices in your kitchen, why not try your hand at making a Christmas beer that you can enjoy during our long winter months?

We found this recipe for you. Take it as a Christmas gift!

Written by: Dominique Labre, creator and lead member of the Ottawa’s Homebrew Society

On top of the ever-growing home brewing community, we also have access to a massive amount of information online and numerous published books on homebrewing. There’s so much information that sometimes it can seem overwhelming for brewers. This is why I condensed all the resources into an easy to follow, six-step process:

1. Identify what flavour you want to express in your beer

The first step is a simple but important one; the selection of your recipe. What do you want to brew and enjoy in the next few weeks? What will you want to drink come summertime? Something seasonal, experimental, simple, boozy, crushable, dark, pale? Or a classic thirst-quenshing golden lager? The list goes on and on. By narrowing down the style, you can select what characteristics your beer should have.

What will it be?

2. Choose your malts (Grain/DME/LME)

Once you have your style in mind, the recipe you chose will depend on the next few steps:

Often recipes that use extracts are easier and require less specialty equipment, unlike All-Grains recipes which are often labelled as a more advanced method and requires more equipment.

3. Calculate your water and water chemistry

This step is often debated among brewers. Many brewers I know do not do anything to their water and their beer comes out perfectly fine, whereas some others measure their PH level virtually every five minutes from mashing to boiling. I usually neutralize and adjust my water every 2 out of 3 brew days.

For us living in the Ottawa region, the water is quite good to brew with straight from the tap. Still, some minor adjustments to the water can make significant improvements to the final product depending on the style you are making.

If you decide to adjust your water, use EZWater Calculator to determine what addition you may need to use:

One step you cannot skip is calculating how much water you need to mash (Steep your grain) and sparge (Rinse your grain) in relation to your grain bill (total amount of malt). There’s a multitude of “Mash & Sparge Water Calculator” tools online, most of which are easy to use.

4. Select your hops

Once you have your recipe, you will be able to decide which hops you can use according to the style you want to make. The type and amounts of hops you chose will dictate your beer.

5. Choose an appropriate yeast strain and fermentation plan

A beer is not a beer unless it is fermented. Otherwise, it is just a very sweet grain water!

To finish your beer with the magic of fermentation you must:

Typically, one vial/packet is enough for a standard 5 gallons of homebrewed beer.

This step depends on the ABV you expect to reach and the vitality of your yeast. (The measure of yeasts readiness to ferment. This can be determined by the best before date or the manufactured date on the packaging) If the yeast is old or if your recipe advises you to use more than 1 yeast packet, you may need to make a yeast starter. (A mixture of yeast and wort to grow and strengthen your yeast mixture.) You should also consider:

6. Determine your finishing process (clarification, carbonation, and packaging)

The fun part is almost here! You can almost drink it! Once your beer is fermenting you can plan the next few steps:

Making beer is a fun and exciting experience; but be patient. You will make mistakes and often might not even see the faults in your beers. Keep brewing and keep learning!

 

Ottawa's Homebrew Society

The Ottawa’s Homebrew Society is a local club focused on connecting homebrewers of all levels of expertise, assisting them in improving their brewing skills and to introduce new beer lovers to the amazing hobby of homebrewing.

Written by: Paule Gosselin, columnist for Bière et Plaisirs magazine and author of the blog La Fleur du Malt.

The craze for quality microbrewery beers continues to grow and many people in Quebec are passionate about craft breweries. In fact, what trends are the most observed in today’s markets and what are the reasons? This is what this editorial will try to explain.

The Pale Ale trend

First of all, many microbrewery enthusiasts are turning to low alcohol beers in order to focus on the hop experience rather than the intoxicating one. It may sound simple, but there was a time when people tended to drink very strong, bitter, high alcohol American IPAs. That trend is now gone and has given way to a more focused and specialized search for hops. Instead, the average connoisseur today looks for vibrancy in the hop flavour profile, such as citrus in Citra or raisin notes in Nelson Sauvin. The Pale Ale allows the taster to perceive the presence of the hops without them being hidden behind an omnipresent residual sugar or a very high alcohol content, thus justifying the interest in the Pale Ale. In the same vein, brewers are also producing a large number of nanoIPAs, even beers below 0.5% alcohol, a trend that is expected to increase in the coming years.

The use of native fruit in brewing

Another trend that is emerging and gaining momentum in 2022 is the use of native fruit in microbrewing. The local and proximity production as well as the absolute freshness of the terroir are expressed and valued through the know-how of the brewers. One can think of chicoutai, pimbina, red currant, black currant, saskatoon, sea buckthorn, camerise or cranberry, as well as rhubarb or raspberries, as long as these fruity additions come from the vicinity of their brewing location. The use of these juices, which was previously unknown, is especially popular in microbreweries when coupled with the gourmet table. The result is a rewarding association for the consumer, who discovers a variety of local products and whose taste buds are sure to be delighted. In local breweries, these indigenous ingredients can be found in sour beers, goses, white beers, saisons and some blacks. Generally, brewers freeze these native fruits or berries at maturity when they are at their fullest flavour. This freezing process allows the fruit to release all of its moisture, all of its water, all of its juice; and therefore, all of its flavour!

The search for the perfect barrel-aged beer

Finally, the lover of microbrewery beers also likes to hunt, to search for rare, nesting products. This is indeed the phenomenon observed particularly for Stouts. There is a desire to discover, through the experience of drinking a beer, the most accomplished version of the range. The maturation of a certain part of a brew in barrels attracts the consumer, tempted by the experience of a different beer, matured, ennobled by the passage in barrels. This can be a woody barrel aging such as oak or maple wood, as well as a barrel aging that has contained different wines or spirits. Among the most common refinements, aging in Chardonnay or Riesling barrels, for example, or in bourbon or rum barrels for strong spirits. The final versions of these craft beers become rounder, more complex; they are ultimately richer, denser and offer the consumer a more complete taste experience.

Lastly

Other micro-trends are adding to those mentioned above: we are seeing more and more Grape ales, where the grape is at the centre of the creation. We are also seeing more beers that merge with the world of cider. In addition, the use of highly aromatic hops is tending to overtake the use of hops as a bittering agent. Along the way, I continue to taste everything and I will come back to you very soon with more observations on the fascinating world of craft brewing! To be continued!