Home brewer graduates 

Real ale passion leads from home brewing to microbrewery job

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Squamish's John Folinsbee loves home brew and hopes to share his love of ale with others.

Folinsbee moved to Whistler for a season, stayed a little longer than a season and recently figured out what he wants to be now that he's grown up. He's currently working for Steamworks Brewing Co. as a brewer, a job he secured after brewing an award-winning beer at home.

But his path to craft ale was anything but straight and narrow — this brewer took the long way around to finding his passion for liquid barley, malt and yeast.

"I went to school for finance mostly kind of as a cop-out because I didn't really know what else to do," says Folinsbee in a phone chat on a wet Sunday afternoon — the sound of his two young children playing in the background.

After completing his schooling he discovered finance really wasn't his thing. He travelled for a bit then came back to Whistler to ski for a season. Like so many before him, one season turned into a few seasons.

For a short time he lived in the U.K. and in that time his father-in-law and his brother-in-law introduced him to real ale, the good stuff usually served at room temperature from a cask. When a successful four-year run as a professional poker player ended courtesy of new online poker rules in the U.S., Folinsbee decided to revisit his love for ale. He invested in some equipment then started exploring home brewing. He networked with more experienced hobby brewers by joining the Van Brewer's Club. His first club meeting was a little more than a year ago.

"They were taking entries at the time for a home brewer's competition so I brought some beer in to give to people to see how it was," Folinsbee says of his early days in brewing. "I had no idea whether it was good or bad. I thought it was good but most home brewers think their beer is good."

He won the competition and got the attention of industry leaders like his current employer.

"To start home brewing you don't need a whole lot of equipment," says Folinsbee. "You can do it with some DYI stuff."

He watched Internet videos, Found online information, read books, experimented in his kitchen and cranked out his first 15-litre batch of what he describes as terrible beer.

"The next batch, it was actually fairly decent," says Folinsbee. He didn't look back.

Folinsbee is looking for others who are brewing their own ales at home as he has dreams of building a home brew club in the Sea to Sky area. Interested basement brewers can send email to jfolinsbee@gmail.com and watch for a Facebook page Folinsbee intends to create this winter.

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