LAST weekend Jeff McGrath headed to Carlton in Melbourne to buy a pint of his Imperial IPA Jeff Goes Pro, after he was crowned the 2016 Champion Home Brewer for the suds made in his Rossmoyne shed.
Seeing his backyard brew stack up against the best on offer at the Great Australian Beer Spectapular was an exciting moment for the hobby brewer.
“Last year I won the WA competition and that allows you to send beers over to nationals; I ended up with three first places which gave me the title of champion brewer,” he said.
“The prize is brewing a Festival beer. It’s pretty unreal to think many people could be drinking my beer.”
The Imperial IPA is heavy on the hops, so much so the floral addition clogged up the pipes during the brewing process, but the end product is refreshing on the palate.
“There is a pale ale, an Indian pale ale and a double IPA steps it up again, it’s a bit more alcohol, lots more hops, more malt and intensified,” Mr McGrath said.
“It (is) really fresh, especially for a hoppy beer.”
Since receiving a homebrew kit as a wedding gift in 2009 in his native USA, making beer became more than just a hobby and on any given day there are four homemade beers on tap in the McGrath household.
“I started out with some fermenters like everybody else does and then when we moved to Australia I had to re-set up an entire system so I planned it out a bit more,” he said.
“I just finished building my system about four months ago, as I get more in to it and learn more it gets more complex.”
Mr McGrath said it was impossible to choose a favourite drop and focussed on making new drinks every time he got cooking.
“Whatever is in my hand, I like them all,” he said.
“I get inspired by different foods, or commercial beers I taste give me different ideas and it fluctuates all over the place. I don’t really have any house beers I always have on tap.”
Mr McGrath said he was thrilled to see small batch brewing become mainstream in Australia.
“It’s really growing, right now in the US there is something like 4000 small breweries and Australia is on its way up… I think eating local food made by locals and drinking local beers is catching on,” he said.
He said beer drinking had evolved from stereotypical swilling to sitting and enjoying a beers’ complexities was a trend enjoyed by many, and a way for him to earn his beer-making stripes.
“I’m not totally self-taught; a lot of what I’ve learnt is from people being generous with their knowledge and through the act of sitting down and enjoying a beer,” he said.
Mr McGrath said he would like to build his passion for beer into a career.
“I’d like to turn this further into a career; I’ve taken some brewing courses and networked with commercial brewers. It’s not super easy. I think you probably need to do the hard yards,” he said.