Know the Homebrewer: Paddy Finnegan - Brew 4.0

Know the Homebrewer: Paddy Finnegan - Brew 4.0

November 13, 2020

 

Half man - half beer geek!

 

We welcome to this space to Paddy Finnegan.

 

He combines his leadership job in the Food and Beverage industry with his passion for homebrewing, under the brand @brew4.0

 

Paddy also coordinates and writes homebrew focused content for @brewersjournalcanada, which is a quarterly print and digital resource.

What's your day job?

I'm the leader for a Food and Beverage Solutions Division of a premier Canadian Valve, Instrumentation, and Automation Provider.

 

What or who got you into homebrewing? When was it?

I have been working side by side with Brewers for 20 years now.


Initially, it was as a Sanitary Fitter/Welder building and installing process equipment in our families business. I was always amazed by the interest Brewers showed in the details of my trade, so I sought out some educational opportunities to reciprocate the interest my friends had shown me. That lead me to become a Certified BJCP, Prud’Homme Sommelier, and MBAA Beer Steward courses.

At one of these courses, I met someone who what opening a Homebrew Shop with her husband and the company I was with at the time had a Sabco Brew Magic unopened, collecting dust in the warehouse. It was a perfect storm. I was able to support my friends and put my education to the test. When was it? Around five years ago.

 

Can you tell us an interesting story about homebrewing?

I love it when my kids help out, but they are still a little too young to really hold their attention with it. We call it “Doing the science”, and the Wee Man’s favorite part is talking about the process when we whip up our starters.

What can I say? My stir plates bring all the kids to the yard ;)
It’s to the point where one of my favorite pics of my son was texted to me directly by his kindergarten teacher of him holding up a sign that says “Beer Maker” and the question was “what do you want to be when you grow up?”.
She was impressed with his knowledge of the process and sent some smiley face emojis with it.
The Wee Lass is far too young to get it, but she likes to squidgy the floors for us.

 

How is brewing a social thing for you? Do you like brewing with others?

I am a very social brewer, but I know that’s not for everyone. I drive past two homebrew shops to get to my friends (@shortfinger)because the vibe is so good and I enjoy catching up and chatting about all our recent misadventures. I’ve also introduced at least a few friends to Homebrewing and regularly invite friends and family to make a day of it with us.

 

We plan brew days to happen at BBQs we’ll host, bolt it on to big events like the Toronto Raptors Championship NBA run last year. Or the very well attended Brew-Jiu-Jitsu event that I hosted for a bunch of adults from our Dojo (@milton_jiujitsu) that culminated with a big UFC event we all watched together after the brew.

 

Do you like brewing with others? Very much so. Yes. We have built the Garage-Ma-Hall to be as close to the perfect brew space as possible to entertain kids and adults alike. COVID has made it more challenging, but tools like FB Messenger can scratch that itch for my Brew Pals.

 

What advice would you like to give to other homebrewers?

Some of the best advise I got when I started, that is something I always pass on to beginners, is not to let the message boards scare you. “Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew” right? Regardless of skill level or how long you’ve been brewing, if you don’t have an immediate group of friends to talk with, I’d recommend getting involved in a Homebrew Club. It’s a great way to learn and make like-minded friends.

 

What is the best beer you ever made? And the worst?

That’s like asking “Who’s your favorite child?” isn’t it?

I haven’t entered many contests, not that I don’t appreciate them, just that its hard to brew to a calendar with a full-time gig that doesn’t exactly punch a clock and young kids, but I did get a solid 40/50 for a 100% Brett Beer I did earlier this year, so that’s certainly up there. Another that comes to mind is a Czech Amber Lager I recently did that got rave reviews from my beer nerd buddies.

And the worst? A pumpkin beer I tried to dealc in my kettle. Hands down. Spices were nowhere near balanced and I over carb’ed it with tabs.

 

Tell us about your favorite styles to brew.

Historically I’m pretty seasonal and have a rotation to match. But earlier this year I built a Fermentation Chamber, so I have been bouncing back and forth between the two extremes of hot fermenting Farmhouses and cold-fermenting Lagers.

 

 

Tell us about your brewing plans for the future.

Next, I plan on adding a 3rd Pump, adding a Counterflow Chiller (currently using a Plate Heat Exchanger) and re-piping my kit to match. After that, I want to start diving deeper into Water Chemistry.

 

What is your experience with Kveik?

I just used a liquid Kveik for the 1st time, and I’m happy with the results. I see dry Kveik all over IG, but I think that it is mainly Europe as I haven’t seen it locally yet. A faster fermentation, with temperature forgiveness, minus the off flavours? I cant see the downside.

 

What equipment do you use and why? 

When I was running a shop that focused on Brewery Equipment a few years back, I had the team convert four kegs into what I was envisioning as a Sabco on steroids. We welded two kegs together to be a double-sized HLT, and have independent Mash Tun and Kettle. It’s an electric system that I piped myself, and my friends from the industry helped me with the Electrical Panel and Programming. I traded them beer and welding for their services.

 

 

Are you satisfied with that or are you thinking about upgrading?

Homebrew equipment can become an obsession for equipment or technology forwards folk, like me, if you let it. I believe equipment collection is an iterative process. You have to make a list of priorities and pick away at it when it’s possible. Not many of us can go all in at once. Nor should we because then where do you go from there. Who doesn’t want it to feel like Christmas 4-6 times a year vs once right?

 

How are your experiences with PLAATO Airlock and PLAATO Keg?
What do you think of being able to share the hobby with wifi-connected devices?

The PLAATO Keg Scale experience has been exceptional and has helped me plan my Brew centric chores since I set it up to ensure I don’t “Tap out” at an inopportune time.

The way the multiple devices connect through the same app is only second to how well the info is displayed. Even on the devise selection page, there are insights that make you want to dig deeper. I’m looking forward to seeing what you add to it next.

 


" (...) one of my favorite pics of my son was texted to me directly by his kindergarten teacher of him holding up a sign that says “Beer Maker” and the question was “what do you want to be when you grow up?” "


 

Do you have an unpopular opinion about homebrewing?
I guess that depends what circles you run in. I think it’s challenging, educational, social, and fun which is also very, very important. Life is too short not to be immersed in activities you love so if it’s Homebrewing, Rock Climbing, or Taxidermy, I just hope everyone reading this gets as much out of their hobby as my friends and I do out of ours.

 

Any closing thoughts?

Keep up the good work PLAATO. As an admitted equipment mark I’m excited to follow your advancements and see where you take “connected” homebrewing.



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