Beer – Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I like the idea of making beer with you. Where do I start?

A. Start by talking to us; this is our area of expertise. We help you choose the right beer for your taste and budget. Place an order online, by phone or at the store. Once we have received your order we will call you to start the process. Then all you have to do is bottle a few weeks later – we take care of the rest!

Q. How long does it take to make a batch of beer?

A. 2-3 weeks depending on the beer.

Q. What is my involvement?

A. Sprinkle the yeast, bottle, and we do the rest!

Q. Once the beer is ready, do I need an appointment to bottle or can I just show up?

A. Even with 2 double beer stations, we do get busy. We need 24 hours’ notice so we can schedule, filter, and carbonate your beer. Please note: once we filter and carbonate your beer it requires bottling within a few hours.

Q. How long does it take to bottle?

Anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. It’s always best to use a uniform bottle, we recommend 500ml Plastic, 1 litre Plastic or 650ml glass. You can bring your own non-commercial bottles or purchase bottles at McBarleys. 

Q. What style of bottle can I use?

A. All bottles must be label free. We recommend 650 ml glass or 500ml Plastic or 1 litre plastic. Our bottle fillers do not accept Stubbies or other 375ml bottles. Please check with the store if you have your own bottles to confirm they are compatible with our bottle fillers. 

Q. Do you sell bottles?

A. Yes we do and first-time customers receive a 50% discount on a set of new bottles. Call the store for pricing.

Q. How soon can I drink my beer once it is bottled?

A. Start drinking once you have filled your bottles! 

Q. How should I store my beer from McBarley’s?

A. Beer should be stored in a cool, dark location at a constant temperature 35-60F (2- 15C). Storing beer at the warmer end of this scale increases any aging effects since yeast remaining in the beer is more active. If temperatures exceed 60F, refrigerate your beer.

Q. How long does beer keep?

A. We advise drinking McBarley’s beer within 4 months. Please note storage conditions above. 

Q. What is beer?

A. Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from malted grains, hops, yeast, and water. The grain is usually barley or wheat, but sometimes corn and rice are used as well. Fruit, herbs, and spices may also be used for special styles. The term “beer” encompasses two broad categories: Ales and Lagers.

Q. What are ales?
A. Ales are brewed with “top-fermenting” yeasts and generally undergo short, warm fermentations. Relatively warm fermentation, results in a more fruity and aromatic beer. Ales show their most complex flavours when served at warm temperatures, around 54-60F (12-15C).

Ales have a broad range of beer styles including bitters, pale ales, porters, stouts and barley wines.

Q. What are lagers?
A. Lagers are brewed with “bottom-fermenting” yeasts at much colder temperatures, 35-50F (2-10C) over longer periods of time. The trick with lager yeast is they can survive, metabolize, and reproduce at lower temperatures and can assimilate compounds which ale yeast cannot, fewer by-products are produced which drop out during fermentation, the result is a very clean, sparkling beer. Lagers are best served at slightly cooler temperatures 40-50F (5-10C).

Lagers include Bocks, Munich, Oktoberfest, and the famous Pilsners.

Q. What is Cream Ale?
A. Cream ale is ale fermented at lager temps. It has also been made by blending conventional ale with conventional lager after fermentation.
Q. Why is beer stronger in Canada than the U.S.?

A. This is just folklore that results from the way alcoholic strength is measured. The alcohol of mainstream US beers is measured as a percentage of weight (abw). Canadian beers (and most other countries) measure percent alcohol by volume (abv). A typical Canadian beer of 5% (abv) will be about the same strength as a typical beer at 4% (abw).

Q. What is good, bad, skunked, spoiled beer?

A. In the most ideal sense, there are no good or bad beers. The enjoyment of beer is a highly subjective and personal experience. The best approach is to appreciate and recognize the outstanding qualities of a fine beer. You can easily identify bad beer when it has been damaged or spoiled. The two most common occurrences are: ‘Skunking’ this happens when beer has been exposed to strong light (light-struck*), either natural or artificial causing certain components in hops to alter and produce acrid flavours which have a pronounced ‘skunky’ character. ‘Spoiled’ also referred to as going ‘off’, is a more vague term and often refers to beer that has not been properly stored or handled allowing oxidation or other off-flavours resulting from contamination, overheating, etc. *Bottled beer can become light-struck in less than one minute in bright sun, after a few hours in diffuse daylight, and in a few days under normal fluorescent lighting.

Q. Are there any perks to being a first-time customer?

A. Yes. First-time customers receive a 50% discount off their first set of bottles, PLUS a $20 discount off your next batch of beer if you start it at the time of bottling. This is a one-time offer and cannot be combined with other promotional sales.

Q. Do you have any beer specials?

A. We often have beer specials running. Call the store for the seasonal beer offers and discounts for frequent beer makers.