Brewing latest home hobby to catch on with public
Since South Africa’s dry lockdown started in midmarch, pineapple sales have increased by 900 per cent. With bars and bottle shops closed, many have fallen back on homebrewing to quench their thirst. Homemade pineapple beer, an established favourite, is the resounding beverage of choice. In Johannesburg, people once bought 10,000 pineapples per day — that number has surged to 100,000 and prices for the fruit have more than doubled.
From the Zulu mfula mfula to Afrikaans pynappelbier, Atlas Obscura reports, the “quite pleasant” drink requires just a handful of ingredients: pineapples, sugar, water and an optional sprinkling of baker’s yeast to jump-start fermentation. Under different circumstances and using milled grains and hops rather than tropical fruit, Canada is experiencing its own homebrewing resurgence.
Like many of the crafts people have been immersing themselves in during lockdown — such as sewing, sourdough and woodworking — homebrewing involves going back to basics and focusing on fundamentals. Making something from scratch requires patience and dedication to the journey as much as the finished object.
For Chris Jans of Dartmouth, N.S., making his own beer is a source of great satisfaction. He’s been homebrewing for more than a decade, and now — as manager of online homebrew supply store Brewhq — he’s dedicated to helping others learn the craft.
“There’s that urge to know the process from start to finish,” says Jans. “It’s a fun hobby and it’s cost-effective, which is a nice bonus. But after it’s all said and done, to drink your beer and share it with your friends — when we can get together again — is a matter of pride.”
Since March, Brewhq has sold four times as many kits, equipment and ingredients than it normally would.
When the craft beer boom began in the early 2000s, some homebrewers made the jump from amateur to professional microbrewery operations. Others stopped brewing altogether, as fresh and interesting beer became readily available.
Brewhq ships across Canada, and Jans has seen demand swell across a range of products and styles: From entry-level kits that include everything you need to brew your first batch of beer, to advanced all-grain brewing supplies; and from easy-drinking Canadian red lager, to citrusy West Coast IPA.
Jans has been surprised by the number of people looking for a challenge. Whereas a beginner might typically start with an extract kit or partial mash — using malt extract, crushed grains and hops — people have been bypassing simpler methods in favour of allgrain brewing.
“When you’re all-grain brewing, you’re brewing like a microbrewery would — straight from grain. We’re noticing that more and more people are jumping to that top level, whereas 13 years ago when I got started, you took baby steps.”