Ryan is the webmaster and a member of the executive for the True Grist homebrew club. Outside of brewing, Ryan is a Ph.D. student studying Nuclear Physics at the University of Guelph. He’s been brewing for over 3 years, with most of that time spent as an all-grain brewer. His first batch was a 1 Gallon “Every Day IPA” kit from Brooklyn Brew shop which was a gift from his mother-in-law for Christmas. The obsession stuck.
What other hobbies or interests do you have?
My wife and I like to play volleyball, both indoor and beach. I keep pretty active playing sports and running. For the last five years, I’ve also been a member of a pub darts team. We are by far the youngest team in the league but it’s a great way to spend a Monday night!
I like to play disc golf. It’s a super fun sport and much harder than it sounds. We travel a lot and almost every city we have been to, including places in New Zealand and Europe, have disc golf courses. We try to hit up as many courses and breweries as possible wherever we go. It really gets you to see parts of a city you might otherwise not have seen.
I have a cat named Sam (after Samual Adams) and a lab/rat terrier mix dog named Abbey (after The Lost Abbey).
What is your favourite type of beer to brew/drink?
Honestly, it changes seasonally, but I like drinking Belgian and mixed fermentation beer, but I also love a nice, crisp, clean lager.
What type of system do you brew on?
I brew 5.5 gallon batches outside on my back deck. I mash and batch sparge in a converted 48 Qt. Coleman cooler with a bazooka screen. I batch sparge using one of my old SS kettles as a HLT. My kettle is a 10 Gal SS pot on a Blichmann Top Tier propane burner. I’ve recently started recirculating my wort using a chugger pump when chilling with my copper immersion chiller. It just makes it easier to walk away and do other things at the same time. I ferment with glass and PET carboys inside of a 4.4 cu ft Danby fridge with an inkbird dual relay. I keg just about everything and serve from a dual tap kegerator.
What is your favourite recipe?
I was a big fan of my 2017 True Brewer Doppelbock submission. The hop schedule looks a little crazy, but I had 3 different lots of hallertau hops! It turned out super clean for an 8% abv beer, and was just loaded with all sorts of malty goodness. I’ll definitely brew it up again this winter.
What is the beer you wish you never brewed?
Early on in my brewing, I brewed a 2 gallon batch of porter on my stovetop. The batch turned out very astringent, phenolic, and extremely medicinal. It also gushed something fierce out of the bottles. It just seemed like everything went wrong with that batch. I ended up dumping it. My wife wouldn’t even let me brew porter for a while after that. However, my current porter recipe is one of my favourites!
What do you wish to improve on in your brewing?
Being more adventurous with ingredients. I don’t use a lot of herbs, spices, fruits or other adjuncts in my beer. I tend to brew simple recipes with simple ingredients. I’ve tried to stick to making good beer following the traditional classic styles, but I think I’m ready to step out of my comfort zone and start experimenting more.
Do you have any brewing tricks, or “hacks”?
Harvest yeast off of your starter! With a decent calculator, you can figure out how much slurry to harvest off of your starter in order to have a reasonable amount of yeast to grow up for your next batch. It means you save some money on yeast, and can keep strains going that may not be available year round.
What is your philosophy on brewing and what advice would you give to new brewers?
If you pay attention to the cold side, you have a huge margin of error on the hot side. I know that the brew day is the exciting part with lots of ingredients, steps and equipment, but a solid fermentation is how to make the best beer. Almost all of my brewing effort goes into fermentation and packaging. Make sure your yeasties are happy and they will make happy beer.
If you could have a beer with any historical figure, who would it be and why?
Tough one. I’d probably have to go Ben Franklin. He seems like he was a super interesting dude who did just about everything. There was also evidence that he loved beer. Who better to sit and have a chat with than someone who is interested in everything, and loves beer!