Posted November 13, 2012

Brewmaster Q&A Series: Brad Clifford, Get Well Nano-Brewery


Brewmaster: Brad Clifford
Brewery: Get Well Nano-Brewery
Location: Toronto, ON
Notable Beers: Pinball Wizard Pale Ale, Get Well Porter, Let it Be Bitter Engish Ale


How long have you been brewing overall, and how did you start out?

I got started in homebrewing in early 2009. There was no real defining moment that made me start. I’d always loved beer and had really started exploring new beer styles around that time. Classic American craft beers like Anchor’s Liberty Ale had a big appeal to me so I thought it might be fun to try and make my own. After the first one turned out pretty good I was hooked.


What prompted the inception of Get Well’s nano-brewery?

After many years of churning out almost every BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) style I could make in my condo’s kitchen I was looking for an opportunity to move to the next level and get my beers out to the general public.

I met Jeff Barber at a CABA (Canadian Amateur Brewers Association) event and he talked a bit about looking to open a craft beer bar or brewpub in Toronto. We were later in a BJCP study group together and I pitched him the idea of me brewing for his bar. Jeff was aware of all the awards I’d won and had tried my beer. He was sold.


What’s your favourite beer produced at Get Well so far?

The Pinball Wizard Pale Ale is probably my favourite so far but the Porter is a very close second. It’s a very sessionable American style Pale Ale with a great balance of malt and hops. It’s 5.5% abv with a nice clean bitterness and assertive but not overpowering hop flavors and aromas of citrus and tropical fruit. We use Columbus, Cascade, Ahtanum, and Citra whole hops in the recipe.


If you had to pick a favourite ingredient, what would it be? [hop, malt, adjunct, spice, etc..]

One of my favorite malts to use is Vienna Malt. It gets added into a lot of my recipes to deepen the malt flavour and adds great colour at the same time. I’ve made all Vienna lagers and ales that have been some of my favourite beers.

There’s also specific yeast strains I like to use on a regular basis like White Labs 007 Dry English Ale yeast. It gets the job done quick and then drops right out leaving a very clear beer with a refreshingly dry finish.


What’s your favorite style of beer to brew?

Probably a toss up between a Porter or an IPA.

I love putting together a good Porter recipe and using all English ingredients. Brown malt for rich chocolate and coffee flavours balanced out with sweet crystal malts and some earthy Fuggle hops.

I also love making IPA’s and just loading them up with C variety American hops – like the Doublewide Double IPA (a collaboration beer I did with Beau’s All Natural Brewing last year).  I guess I’m a bit of a hop head first and foremost.

I also enjoy making lagers that have big hop flavor and aromas like a German Pilsner. Lagers don’t have to be thin and watery. Almost every German beer made is a lager and no one makes better tasting beer than they do (in my opinon).


What are your top 3 all-time favourite beers [any Country]?

Fuller’s London Pride is probably my go to beer whenever I walk into an LCBO. Their Porter is also world class. American IPA’s like Stone’s Ruination or Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA come to mind. Anchor Steam is also up there… that’s more than 3 I know. Too hard to narrow down.


What are your top 3 favourite Ontario-produced beers?

Number one would definitely be Neustadt 10W-30. A fantastic English Brown Ale. Not available at the moment but Duggan’s #3 German Pilsner is a great beer I used to drink quite a lot of. Amsterdam’s Boneshaker is probably the best and most consistent Ontario IPA right now.


From whom have you learned the most with respect to brewing?

That would definitely be Michael Duggan. I worked with him at his past brewpub and got a bit of a crash course on the importance of high quality ingredients and overall good brewing technique. We both like to brew fairly traditional styles of beer along BJCP guidelines and I learned a lot about the importance of drinkability first and foremost when crafting a great beer. Mike’s my go to guy when I need advice on anything brewing related and a good friend.


Can you describe any of your future plans for the nano-brewery?

We’re going to keep it pretty small to start out but chances are good we’ll add some more fermentors in the near future. We’d also like to start barrel ageing some beers and experimenting with wild yeasts. We’ve got some extra space below the bar now so hopefully we’ll get this going pretty soon.


Do you have any events or announcements you’d like to pass along?

Nothing specific at the moment but I’m sure there will be lots to come! We’ve got new beers fermenting away right now and we’ll be doing some collaboration beers with local breweries in the near future.


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