Brew­ing lat­est home hobby to catch on with pub­lic

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - LAURA BREHAUT

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.”

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