Craft beers are surprisingly simple to make—economical, too. All you need is a little equipment and the advice of a homebrew guru.
DO IT YOURSELF | Vancouver has made a name for itself as Canada’s microbrew capitol. As the trend and palates for craft beer continue to grow, artistic DIYers are brewing up their own spins on flavourful favourites at home for little more than pennies a pint.
Not so long ago my husband and I tried some delicious homebrew. Intrigued, we questioned the couple who’d made it on the ins and outs of their hobby while our silent glances said, “We could totally do that!” And we did.
As homebrew virgins we quickly learned that we were not going to get anywhere without some supplies and expert advice. So we turned to Dan Small of Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies. For the past 20 years he has been supplying Vancouver’s homebrewers with everything they need to make tasty and unique beers. His shop in the Heatley Block of East Hastings looks like an old-time general store with buckets of grain, pails of malt and homebrew hardware displayed around the store.
After the initial start-up cost of about $100 for a homebrew kit, Dan tipped us off to where we could find a large-capacity pot to brew our brew and bottles for bottling. For our first beer we chose an ale, got the ingredients and grabbed a homebrew brochure (with step-by-step instructions and the store’s number just in case). We were ready to go. Three weeks later we were sipping our first attempt, which was crisp and balanced with a hoppy finish. Batch two, a porter, mellowly bubbled in the background.
In hindsight the first few batches were labours of love. Now we have shaved hours off the time we spend brewing and bottling. All our equipment and supplies fit into a small bookshelf (or as I like to call it, the Brewshelf), and each visit to Dan’s only costs about $30 for ingredients that make 22 litres of really good-quality beer. On my countless visits, Dan has continually surprised me with brew facts, tips and expert advice.
He is an alchemist, and I always try to give him some of the credit when our friends tell us what fantastic beer we have made. That is, IF we choose to share it. —Natasha Irvine
For more information visit Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies, 692 East Hastings, 604-251-3411