Member Profile: Matt Lavergne


Matt is currently sitting on the executive of True Grist as a website developer and member of the events committee. He started his brewing journey in the spring of 2016. Matt is also a BJCP certified judge and fan of competition brewing. When not home brewing you can often find Matt finding reasons to escape to the cottage or to the garage. He is also constantly annoyed at how often his wife Meghan is right about things…

How did you get started brewing?

I’m very fortunate to have a job that finds me at a computer for many hours a day, and allows me to work from home. One of my monitors is pretty much on a constant YouTube cycle. One fateful day, YouTube decided I might like a thing called Brewing TV. By the end of that day, 10 or 15 episodes later, with no real work having been accomplished, I was hooked on the idea. Some convincing of my much better half later I made a trip to Short Finger and had a nice long talk with Rob about the process. I exchanged some money for the basic starter kit and a pot and the rest is history.

What is your dream beer holiday?

Belgium. I would LOVE to spend two or three weeks touring what I consider to be the mecca of beer. Lambic and Trappist and Saison and Flanders and … yeah my wallet hurts just thinking about it!

What type of system do you brew on?

What specific equipment I use on a given day varies based on weather and beer I am making but most all of it is a variation of a 2 vessel setup. A bag lined cooler for mashing, with no sparge, and electric kettle or smaller kettle on an induction burner. I am currently toying with / collecting parts to convert my mash setup to a RIMS tube feeding from my cooler.

What is your favourite type of beer to brew/drink?

All of them. Seriously, all of them. As of writing this I am 48 batches of beer in and have NEVER brewed the same beer twice.

What is the story of your highest/lowest gravity brew?

Not my absolute highest ever, but the story of my first beer is fun. On my first visit to Short Finger I told Rob that I needed to make a nice easy to drink Kölsch to help sell my better half on the value of homebrewing. Somewhere in the conversation the lines got crossed that I had intended to make a 3 gallon batch as a first try, but what I left the store with that day was enough extract for a 5.5 gallon batch. My 4.5% Kolsch in reality ended up as a 6.3% ale of some sort. What hooked me and convinced the home front that this was a good hobby was, even though it was absolutely NOT the beer I was trying to make, it was very very tasty.

Do you have any brewday rituals?

No drinking until the hot break happens and the fear of boilover is over.

What is your process for recipe development?

Generally I start by determining what my target style and ABV will be. From there I will choose base malt to get to ~80% of my target ABV and make up the rest in character malts. Hop schedules often are determined by what I have in the freezer at the moment. Water calculations happen and mash PH / acid calculations. Then a yeast is chosen. Once all that is done and I have the basic outline of what I am going to brew I stare at it for quite a while and tweek here and there until I am really happy with the idea.

Tips for success in homebrew competitions

Don’t over complicate your beer. Don’t EVER list an ingredient or characteristic on your submission unless it’s 100% there. I have had to low score more than one really good beer because it was listed as a <fruit here> beer and that fruit is totally lost.

Tips for success as a homebrew judge

Remember that how you taste something isn’t always going to be the same as someone else. Difference of opinion doesn’t make you a better or worse judge than the people you are judging with.

Would you like brewing to ever be more than a hobby?

Maybe as a retirement plan. Move to a small under serviced north central Ontario town and open a small passion project brewery.

Do you have any brewing tricks, or “hacks”?

Sparging is overrated and a total waste of time!!!