When a trend toward making your own beer was brewing
By 1985, the home-brewing market was a $7-million business in Canada
Why pay the retail price for a bottle of beer when you could brew your own in a plastic garbage can in the basement?
That seemed to be the view of many price-conscious, home-brewing beer-makers in the mid-1980s.
"Canadians down a lot of suds over a year, more than 7 billion bottles," the CBC's Dan Bjarnason told viewers, setting up the premise of his report on The National on March 26, 1985.
"But less and less is coming from the big breweries and more and more from basements. Home-brewed beer is something people are getting immersed in."
At that time, Bjarnason said Canadians were brewing the equivalent of 40 million bottles of beer at home annually, evidence of the trend unfolding in subterranean personal brew houses.
"Canada's home-brew stores have become busy places. Sales have jumped six-fold in five years," said Bjarnason, noting it was estimated to be a $7-million market in Canada at that point.
Just 16 cents per bottle
For those willing to put in the work, the results could cost about a fifth of what the big brewers charged, according to Bjarnason.
"Home beer works out to about 16 cents a bottle, that's about a half-dollar cheaper than commercial beer," said Bjarnason.
There was also the choice of brewing whatever you wanted, as long as you had the ingredients and the necessary recipe.
As good as store-bought beer
"If you get into this and do it properly, you can create a beer of just as good quality as you get in the store," said one man, juggling supplies he'd purchased from a do-it-yourself wine-and-beer store.
Inside a Toronto home, Jef Vermeulen showed Bjarnason the process of pouring malt, water, sugar and yeast into a container, which would then produce beer over a series of weeks.
For Vermeulen, making his own beer wasn't just about the craft.
"Apart from the hobby aspect, it's being one step ahead of the taxman," Vermeulen said.