Gone Pro: 2 Crows Brewing (Halifax, NS)

Gone Pro is a series of Q&As with breweries with homebrewing roots. If you would like to see a brewery featured here, please send an email to kathy@canadahomebrews.ca.

CHA: What is your name and what do you do at the brewery?

Jeremy Taylor. I’m the head brewer and one of the founders of 2 Crows.

CHA: How and when did you start homebrewing?

I started probably around 2011. My partner got me a really simple homebrew setup from Dan’s Homebrewing, and I was hooked. I have always enjoyed cooking—and baking in particular—so being able to play around with flavours that I could get in beer form was super fun for me. I was working in a molecular biology research laboratory in Vancouver at the time, so I got really excited about the science behind brewing as well. Brewing beer was the perfect combo of science and flavours, so I was hooked pretty quickly.

CHA: Why did you decide to go pro, and what was the process like?

Because I was a bit older when I decided that I wanted to go pro, and because I was giving up a decent career in another field, I decided that instead of starting at a brewery by mopping floors I would go to school for brewing to get a jump-start on my career. I completed an MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Edinburgh’s Heriot Watt University, which was a really wonderful program in an amazing city. I was fortunate enough to be hired as a head brewer straight out of university, and worked for a few years in Vancouver (where I am from) before making the move to Halifax to start 2 Crows.

First day of brewing school. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Taylor.

CHA: How has your homebrewing background helped your career in the brewing industry?

I think homebrewing gave me an appreciation for the different flavours and characteristics that each beer ingredient gives, and an opportunity to experiment and take chances. Brewing school didn’t do much to actually teach us how to formulate a recipe, so most of that has come from my homebrewing experience.

CHA: What is a favourite beer that you’ve brewed (homebrew or pro), and describe it in three words. 

That’s a tough question, it’s kinda like asking which is your favourite kid. To be honest, it definitely wouldn’t be any of my homebrew—thinking back on them, a lot of them were terrible. At the moment it is probably Waltz, a German-style Pilsner we brew at 2 Crows. We have been working really hard to dial that one in, and are now using 100% PEI malt, low oxygen mashing and of course fermenting low and slow and lagering for nine weeks. I’m really enjoying it especially as the weather warms up. Three words would be: crisp, bready, bright.

First tanks showing up at 2 Crows. Photos courtesy of Jeremy Taylor.

CHA: What inspires your brews?

Lots of things. Local ingredients inspire a lot of our wild and sour program, as does just tasting the beers as the progress—most of our barrel things are the same base wort, so I decide on what additions to make (fruit, hops, blending, etc) based on how the flavours develop in barrel. Tasting other good beer from around the globe also inspires me to try different brewing techniques, or use different ingredients.

CHA: What is something unexpected that you learned while transitioning from homebrewing to pro brewing?

How much of everything you have to figure out or fix on your own. Pump stops working during a transfer? You’ve gotta rebuild that thing on the fly.

CHA: What sets your brewery apart from others?

We like to play around quite a bit with different fermentation profiles, and have a pretty extensive wild and sour program. We definitely have a strong respect for brewing tradition, but like to brew some fairly experimental and fun things as well. We are a super tight-knit group too, and have a lot of fun while we are making this stuff. We also try not to take anything all that seriously either—it’s just beer.

CHA: Any tips for folks thinking about going pro? 

Learn as much as you can from professional brewers. Get a job washing kegs or mopping floors at a brewery, and learn how the place is run. Making a tasty homebrew is a lot different from running a production brewery, and there are a ton of moving parts—I always worry about folks making a jump directly from homebrewing to owning and operating their own production brewery. Learn how boilers work, learn how pumps are built, learn about correct chemical handling and dosage, learn how to cry on demand when a supplier is screwing you over—lots to learn!

Recipes courtesy of Jeremy Taylor

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