CBC Digital Archives

Beer: Brewing your own

Canadians love their beer. And from the time Canada's first brewery opened in the 1600s, the history of our beer industry has been an intoxicating one. Mergers and acquisitions, questions over suitable advertising, debates about the shape of our bottles, and the emergence of microbreweries — these are just a few fascinating topics in Canadian brewing history. So sit back, raise a glass and enjoy as the CBC Archives looks at Canada's beer industry.

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Mike Olsen, a proud member of a club called the "Royal Canadian Malted Patrol," brews his own beer in his basement in Surrey, B.C. Mary Francis Richardson is a chemistry professor in St. Catharines, Ont., who loves to experiment with different brews. And Martin Sewell started brewing beer in Toronto after he emigrated from England and found Canadian beer "too gassy." These three home brewers talk to Midday's Tina Srebotnjak about their brewing techniques and why they love to brew their own.
. Prior to May 1985, Canadians had to request permission from the government to brew at home. But in 1985, the federal government relaxed its laws on home brewing and no longer required the written authorization.
. In 1986, a month-long Brewer's Retail strike prompted many Ontario beer drinkers to try their hand at home brewing.

. The typical home brewing kit costs $100 and contains an air lock to release carbon dioxide, bottles, a bottle brush and washer, a bottle capper, buckets, a hose, a large pot and spoon, bottle caps, a hydrometer and a thermometer.
. On average, home brewers could concoct their beer in an hour. The beer then "ages" for two weeks before being cold filtered and carbonated.

. Home brewing is a scientific process which must be guarded carefully. Carbonation must be gauged accurately in order to prevent bottles from exploding.
. Increasing beer taxes also contributed to the growing homebrew phenomenon. Whether bottled at home or at a home-brewing depot, beer drinkers found that they could cut their beer bill in half.

. Until 1993, home brewers also eluded the provincial sales tax on the grounds that they produced the product themselves. In August 1993, Ontario introduced the you-brew tax to the dismay of many home-brewing outlets. Canadian breweries lobbied the government to impose the tax as a way of curbing the self-brewing industry's massive growth. Sales plummeted and approximately 30 of the province's 250 home-brewing stores closed shops.

. In April 1994, the provincial government chopped the you-brew tax from 26 cents to 13 cents per litre to help the fledgling industry.
Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: June 23, 1993
Guest(s): Mike Olson, Mary Frances Richardson, Martin Sewell
Host: Tina Srebotnjak
Duration: 8:31

Last updated: May 20, 2014

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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