Rain and a sharp wind did not dissuade the Aroma Brewealis Homebrew Club from hosting its second annual brewing competition on Saturday.
Braving the day’s spotty weather, the club celebrated the art of homebrewing in a socially distanced contest featuring five brewers and their samples.
President Shawn Brennan told Cabin Radio the event, which began last year, is held in honour of the club’s late co-founder, Andrew Debogorski. Andrew passed away in a house fire in December 2018.
The competition’s highest honour, the Brew Doc Memorial Trophy, is dedicated to him.
The Brew Doc Memorial Trophy, dedicated to Andrew Debogorski. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
“He was always one that gave,” Brennan said. “He was a great guy, one of my best friends, and I miss him.
“I always told myself that no matter what, every year, we were going to do this competition because it’s for Andrew and his memory. So, rain or shine, 54 km/h winds, whatever – we’re going to do what we do and just kind-of carry on with life.”
Each of the five beers competing on Saturday were ales. Attendees tasted samples with no names, percentages, or descriptors attached.
Brennan said brewing was an “art form” for Debogorski.
“It was always something for him to make as a crowd-pleaser. So that’s what we tried to do here today.”
‘Make it your own’
Brennan described the process of brewing beer like “making tea.”
The brewer puts a bag of grains inside a pot of boiling water and lets it steep for an hour. After removing the bag, the water boils for another hour.
The brewer adds yeast and lets the concoction sit for two weeks so fermentation can begin.
“A lot of people start with a $200 setup, with a turkey fryer from Canadian Tire and a bag,” he said. “That’s how I started, and that’s how a lot of people started.”
Dean Diguer has been brewing for five years and has been a part of the club for two. He came in third in last year’s competition, which he said is a “notch in his belt.”
“It makes me feel like I’m doing something right,” he said.
Shawn Brennan, left, is the club’s co-founder and president. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
However, for Diguer, the club is about friendships more than anything.
“We get together every month and a half and just share what we’ve got,” he said. “It’s not really competitive within the club, but it’s more about helping everybody to become better at what we do, and to try to produce a better product.”
Brennan started brewing about six years ago to save money but kept brewing for the challenge of it.
“It starts off as a cheap way to make beer, but you get into different styles and the camaraderie and the actual process of brewing is quite fun,” he said.
Newcomer Ghyslain Letourneau, who started brewing in July, said sharing his beer with the club helps him to improve and allows for teamwork in an otherwise solitary practice.
Ghyslain Letourneau, left, won the competition on Saturday with an American Red Ale. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
“It’s just trying things and making it your own,” he said.
Letourneau ended up walking away with the top prize on Saturday evening, receiving the most votes for his American Red Ale.
His top tip?
“Don’t mess up.”
The Aroma Brewealis Homebrew Club’s sign welcomes attendees to the event on Saturday afternoon, which was held in Brennan’s back yard. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
Five ales were competing against one another on Saturday, kept cool in Brennan’s homemade keg cooler. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio
Brennan’s pup, Bruin, kept a watchful eye over the proceedings. Meaghan Brackenbury/Cabin Radio