In these days of instant gratification, waiting for up to two years to sample home-brewed beer seems an unlikely occurrence. But for Tim Travis and other members of BrewVIC, a club for those who take DYI seriously, great beer is all about timing.
“I make a fair bit of sour beers, they take a year or two years to make, it’s quite a process,” says Travis. “There’s a long lag time, it’s not like making dinner.”
From beer kits, which can take as little as two weeks time to be ready for tasting, to those two-year brews, the members of BrewVIC are passionate about them all.
The club has been around for about three years and boasts more than 300 members on Facebook; an average of 20 people attend its monthly meetings and more than 100 will turn out for a special brew days, says Dave Shaykewich, one of its founding members.
“It’s the creativity of it we’re interested in – not the drinking – we like making it more than drinking it … but we like drinking it,” says Shaykewich with a laugh.
Brewing from a kit is like making frozen macaroni, according to club members: pop it in the microwave and you’re done. Many club members are making all-grain beers, buying malted barley, hops, and yeast, mashing the grain, collecting the wort and boiling it with hops, chilling the wort, pitching the yeast, all of which can take up to six hours. But all levels of home brewers are welcome to join and learn about the craft which has come a long way in recent years.
Unlike do-it-yourself wine kits, home beer brewers can access the same ingredients as the breweries, resulting in delicious beer, customized to an individual’s taste.
“That really levels the footing,” says club member Rob Reynolds. “There’s a stigma that home brew tastes like crap. Some of the brewers in our club are making better beer than you can get anywhere.”
Most brew what they like to drink or experiment with different ingredients to create something new.
“It’s a hobby of creativity,” says Reynolds. “Some people have boxes of bottles they’ve made and never drank because they’re onto the next thing.
“We have one member who’s a PhD student who keeps an amazingly detailed notebook and another brewer who just throws things into the pot and magic comes out the other end.”
The cost to start out can be as low as $15 to $20. “Used Victoria has a section with tons of supplies,” says Travis. And home brewing doesn’t take much room. “$100 and a closet,” is all it takes, says Reynolds.
“You can also spend $10,000,” says Travis, who usually has several batches on the go at once.
The men are enthusiastic about Victoria’s craft beer industry and its continued growth. Listing the number of local breweries, Reynolds says they’re all making “really good beer.”
“It really raises the bar,” adds Travis.
“The variety of different breweries producing great beer is great, and the fact that they are economically viable now and that people are buying beer differently, it’s all really great,” says Shaykewich.
“The more people there are making really good beer, the more everyone else wants to make really good beer,” Reynolds says.
BrewVIC’s next Big Brew Day is on May 25, go to brewvic.com for more information.