Robert Colvin Tells All

Robert Colvin
Home Brewer, 2005

Robert at work

Q: Robert, thanks for being profiled. How long have you been home brewing for, why do you home brew and how much beer do you make? 

A: I've been brewing for about 6 years, since '98. I brew for fun and to have a ready supply of good beer at a reasonable price. I brew enough to have between 5 and 10 cartons ready at any time (never know when a mate is going to drop by), so I usually brew about as much as I drink which varies from season to season. Probably average about six two-carton brews each year.

Q: What styles of beer do you brew? Is one style more suitable than others?

A: I do a 'stock' of Coopers lager and stout, just for safety, and then try a few different styles. I do quite a few wheat beers and ginger beers. I've tried just about every style I've seen in the brew shops at one point or another, and a couple of styles from recipes and my own concoctions.

Q: How would you compare the quality of your beers to that of commercial brews?

A:Now days the quality is as good as or better - I found using malts instead of sugar and leaving the beer to mature for 6 months made a big difference.

Q: Do you have any trouble controlling the alcohol content of your beer? I had to really pace myself with a couple of your beers as they started to knock me about.

A: That must have been my 'medicinal' batch. Its no trouble to control the alcohol content, its just difficult to control the urge to not control the alcohol content when brewing...

Q: Tell me about the process. Is it true that bottles explode and can blind you?

A: If you bottle too soon it can be a problem. I had some that were overgassed because of that, and after a few exploded I decided to open them before they all went. I underestimated the force though and the rim of the first bottle shattered when I opened it, spraying my unprotected stomach with glass. I decided to rug up and put on some sunnies before proceeding. Lost quite a few bottles from that experience, and have since made sure not to bottle too soon.

Q: Do you ever buy beer now that you home brew?

A: When I'm out I do, and I may buy a 6pack here and there if going to someone'e house where organising a couple of bottles of homebrew is too complicated. I never buy beer to have at my place though.



Equipment and the final product

Q:We can see from your cricket profile that you are quite the star. Is beer important to the culture of cricket in your experience?

A: Absolutely. I can't see any other reason to have a game last 5 days. Beer is especially important for those occasions when you've played all day in the sun and lost.

Q: Would you recommend home brewing to our readers? Is it more rewarding than just saving money or would you just buy ready made beer if money wasn't an issue?

A: Sure I'd recommend it. To me its just like the choice of whether to cook at home or eat out all the time. Cooking is usually cheaper, and can also be enjoyable, but it takes a bit of time. Same with brewing. Having XXXX Gold every time you drink is like having McDonalds every time you eat..

Q: Do you have a view on whether women brew beer differently to men? Is home brewing popular with women?

A: I've only come across one female brewer. She was more into perfecting one particular style than experimenting, but I wouldn't necessarily say that was representative of all female brewers.

Q: I understand you have a PhD in computer science? Specifically, in what area?

A: Formal methods of software development.

Q: Hmmm. Is that any use in the real world? What do your computer science nerd friends think of you brewing your own beer?

A: I'm using it to develop software that detects when someone is skipping their shout, so it could come in handy. What do my nerd friends think of me brewing beer? You seem to be quite impressed.

Q: Finally, when you're not drinking tallies by the $5 carton, which pubs can you be seen in?

A: The RE and the Regatta for relatively quiet afternoons, and Irish bars when out on the town. The microbrewery at the Regatta produces some pretty nice beers sometimes, and it has a fair selection of beers on tap. But I still remember with fondness the old Regatta before it was all done up... thanks Robert Colvin for his time and the odd sample from his medicinal batch.

Another home brewer, Justin Crackanthorp, is profiled here.


Take a break from drinking like the author of this article did - Read why and how in his book Between Drinks: Escape the Routine, Take Control and Join the Clear Thinkers