Member Profile: Craig Farewell (St John’s, NL)

Member Profiles is a series featuring members of the CHA, and sharing their story about how they got into homebrewing. If you’d like to share your story or know someone with an interesting homebrew story, send an email to kathy@canadahomebrews.ca.

CHA: How long have you been brewing for and how did you get into homebrewing?

CF: A friend of mine was moving and getting rid of some old brewing equipment and asked if I wanted it. I jumped at the opportunity and recruited a couple more friends to get into the hobby at the same time. We split up the purchase of additional equipment to keep costs down and would get together to brew collectively. This was extremely helpful in the early stages as we learned a great deal from talking out the processes/techniques and researching recipes.

CHA: Do you remember your first batch of beer and what was it like?

CF: My first batch of beer was an Everyday IPA kit from Brooklyn BrewShop. We brewed it in the kitchen in our small apartment at the time. Would give anything to be able to watch a time-lapse of the atrocity that was that brew session. Bottled conditioned the beer and after two weeks sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labour. I didn’t realize it at the time but that brew had to have almost every off-flavor there is. To my naïve self though it was the best tasting beer I ever had. Was hooked then, loved the process of creating something that people could potentially enjoy. Learned a big lesson during that first session, bottling can take a hike. Made the immediate jump to kegging and never looked back, although I do appreciate bottling and bottle-conditioning a lot more now.

CHA: Has your setup changed much from when you first started?

CF: A key piece of advice I was given early in my brewing career was you can make award-winning beer with any equipment, you just need to lock down your process. For the first six years I brewed with all original equipment and concentrated on adapting the equipment to brew the style I was going for. As your brewing experience increases you start to better understand variables that contribute to specific styles. Over the last two years I’ve added a new kettle and an insulated mash tun for kettle souring but still use much of the original equipment. I still use a 3-kettle setup and will continue to do so.

From a brew day in December with local NL women’s craft beer group, the Brewnettes. Photo courtesy of Craig Farewell.

CHA: Do you have a favourite style of brew? What is it? Why?

CF: We have a short summer in NL, usually only lasting 2-2.5 months. Because of this I tend to brew styles that remind me of the warm weather that we do get. Recently it’s been a lot of 0 IBU NEIPAs, Brut IPAs, and fruity kettle sours. Just purchased a 5-gallon bourbon barrel so will be brewing up a nice Imperial Porter or Stout to drop in that to be drank during the colder months.

CHA: What is one tip for people wanting to get into homebrewing?

CF: Enjoy it. Don’t make it a chore. Be proud of what you brew. You won’t always get positive feedback and that is perfect. You can’t make better beer without knowing what you did wrong.

CHA: Are you involved in your local homebrew community and in what ways?

CF: I co-run the Newfermenters homebrew group which is the largest homebrew group in Newfoundland and Labrador. Our membership has grown from 50 people in 2015 to almost 1,000 as of today. We host meetings, brew days, contests, etc., all of the normal homebrew club items.

CHA: What do you like most about homebrewing?

CF: The camaraderie. The number of friendships that have been forged and the stories and laughs that have been had have gone well beyond my initial expectations of what would happen when I added hops and yeast to wort.

Craig is the regional rep for the Atlantic provinces, and you can reach him at craig@canadahomebrews.ca.

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