Pin It
Favourite

The brewers speak 

Christine Beevis talks to the men responsible for Halifax’s beer

click to enlarge untitled-2.jpg


Bobby Zacharias,
head brewer at Propeller Brewery

Where did you train?
I studied in Scotland at the Heriot-Wat University, and I took a course at the Siebel Institute of Technology & World Brewing Academy.

How did you start brewing?
I started when I was 16. l love beer and it’s in my family---my family built and installed breweries. There’s only two ways to get free beer---play guitar or make it. I don’t play guitar and I don’t sing, so I had to take the next route.

How long have you been brewing?
I’ve been brewing since 1989.

Where else have you worked?
In Victoria at the Vancouver Island Brewery, Agassiz in Winnipeg, Bear Brewing in Kamloops and Maverick Brewing Co. in Edmonton. And now I’m in Halifax.

What’s your favourite style to brew?
I like to make a lager or Pilsner---they’re harder styles to brew and are more unforgiving because you can’t mask any problems with hops.

What’s your favourite beer to drink (other than your own)?
I like imports. My football beer is Old Milwaukee. Otherwise I like beers from Belgium, Czechoslovakia or Germany.

Three words that describe your brewing style?
I don’t know. What did the other guys say? Clean, balanced, nothing over the top.

If you were going to collaborate with another brewer, who would it be and why?
Probably one of the brewers in Belgium, just the odd beers they make. I’ve been to Belgium before and worked with with Frank Boon---he runs a Lambic brewery. He still uses equipment made in the 1800s and he makes fantastic beer. To be able to see the process they used back then and they’re still using today would be kinda fascinating.


Brett Mason.
plant manager/head brewer at Sleeman Maritime

Where did you train?
In my second year of my undergraduate program in microbilogy at the University of Guelph (Ontario), I tried a Sleeman dark ale for the first time. It was different than anything I’d ever tried. It got my attention and romanticized the beer industry for me. My first job after graduation was a $7.50/hour job putting bottles into empty cases at Sleeman’s. I spent a year working in packaging, and the next seven years brewing in the plant, followed by one year in the lab.

How did you start brewing?
While I was working full-time, I enrolled in the Institute & Guild of Brewing program.

How long have you been brewing?
BM: I’ve been brewing professionally for the last 15 years [all of them at Sleeman].

What’s your favourite style to brew?
BM: I don’t get my hands dirty often but I still prefer a dark ale. I like a challenge, like the refermented products we’ve been making at Unibroue.

What’s your favourite beer to drink (other than your own)?
There’s a lot of good beer out there. You will have experiences where you taste a product and realise it doesn’t taste the way it should. I appreciate when I’m drinking a style and it stays within the area it should be. Then I’m happy. If it’s completely different, then I’m not very happy.

Three words that describe your brewing style?
Quality, consistency, flavour.

If you were going to collaborate with another brewer, who would it be and why?
I’d brew with Gerry Vietz, the head brewer at Unibroue---he’s a fantastic brewer. We’d definitely brew a refermented strong ale.


Daniel Girard,
brewmaster at Garrison Brewing Company

Where did you train?
I studied brewing at the Technical Institute in Berlin.

How did you start brewing?
It’s a bit of a long stretch. I first did a major in East Asian Studies in Montreal. Once I graduated I studied Japanese and went to Japan, where I worked with Ginga Kogen---a producer of brewing equipmment. Then, I decided to apply to study brewing in a one-year intensive course at the Technical Institute in Berlin. While I was studying in Berlin, I was also working as a translator, facilitating the communication between the brewmaster and management.

How long have you been brewing?
I’ve been brewing professionally since 2001.

Where else have you worked?
DG: Once I came back to Canada, I worked with Pump House for about five years (from 2001-2006) and experimented with different styles. That’s where I started to really learn the trade and to experiment with different styles. I tried to go on my own after that, then three years ago I joined Garrison.

What’s your favourite style to brew?
I like to experiment with different varieties. For instance, I really liked our Hopyard, Spruce Beer and 3 Fields. I always make to bitter stuff, we don’t make enough, but there’s only so much the market can take. But all brands are my babies, and I try everything.

What’s your favourite beer to drink (other than your own)?
Difficult to say. I try everything. It’s good not to be in a bubble. I drink my beer and for sure that’s what I like, mostly, but there are great breweries around.

Three words that describe your brewing style?
Quality; not afraid to brew anything; could do anything.

If you were going to collaborate with another brewer, who would it be and why?
I would brew with friends, like Frederick Tremblay at Microbrasserie Charlevoix or Scott Jennings at the Sierra Nevada pilot brewhouse. We’d brew a style I don’t usually make.


Greg Nash,
brewmaster at Hart & Thistle

Where did you train?
I returned to highschool at the age of 31 to complete my high school diploma so I could attend the American Brewers Guild in Davis, California.

How did you start brewing?
I first started homebrewing at the age of 15, using tins from the local homebrew store. I probably did about 600 batches over the years and then decided to turn brewing into more than a hobby.

How long have you been brewing?
GN: I’ve been brewing professionally since 1994 (that’s not including the homebrewing in my early years).

Where else have you worked?
After graduation, I worked at a microbrewery and brew pub in Green Bay Wisconsin. Then, I moved to the River City Brewing Company in Winnipeg Manitoba, before moving to John Shippey’s Brewery in Halifax, followed by Propeller, Garrison, Pump House and now the Hart & Thistle.

What’s your favourite style to brew?
West Coast style IPAs!

What’s your favourite beer to drink (other than your own)?
That’s a tough one. I don’t really have a a favourite brand or label. But my desert island beer would be either Pliny the Elder or Green Flash West Coast IPA.

Three words that describe your brewing style?
Hoppy as balls.

If you were going to collaborate with another brewer, who would it be and why?
It would be with the Phillips Brewing Company in BC. Matt Philips, the owner and brewmaster, is a homeboy from the Valley and is one of the more adventurous, extreme and hop-loving brewers in the country. We’d make a big hoppy double IPA...Or a triple, quadruple IPA with a shot of espresso in it.


Kevin Keefe,
owner and operator, Granite Brewery

Where did you train?
I went to England to train at the Ringwood Brewery with Peter Austin, who started his brewery after 40 years of working at other breweries.

How did you start brewing?
I was in the bar business---I owned the Seahorse and Gingers Taverns---and I read an article that you could build your own brewery. I traveled to Ringwood, trained with Peter Austin and bought the equipment to open Granite in 1985. We were the first microbrewery east of the Rockies, which was difficult back then---we had to get the laws changed, the liquor commission had to change the laws and the federal excise law had to be changed, since you couldn’t sell alcoholic products at the same place where you produced them.

How long have you been brewing?
I’ve been brewing for almost the last 30 years.

Where else have you worked?
I’ve brewed here, in our Granite Brewery in Toronto and at Ringwood. But I’ve always worked for myself.

What’s your favourite style to brew?
I like English ales and stouts---real hand-pumped ales like they have at the Henry House, like our Peculiar or Extra Special Bitter.

What’s your favourite beer to drink (other than your own)?
I don’t often drink other beers than my own. But I do like Old Thumper from Shipyard in Portland Maine (which is from Ringwood but is brewed with a license in the U.S.). In Canada, I like Unibroue’s Trois Pistoles.

Three words that describe your brewing style?
Traditional, English/British Isles-oriented (with open fermentation system, which none of the other guys here use).

If you were going to collaborate with another brewer, who would it be and why?
I can’t see doing that. In the past we have contracted out our Peculiar to other breweries, but it was our beers we were doing.


Lorne Romano,
brewer at Rogue’s Roost

Where did you train?
I got all of my training through on-the-job experience with Michael Hancock, who had 13 years of experience working for Labatts.

How did you start brewing?
I started as a homebrewer about 25 years ago back home in Toronto, where I had an elaborate homebrewing studio. I used to do lots of competition brewing with the Canadian Amateur Brewers Association.

How long have you been brewing?
I got my first job through the president of Canadian Amateur Brewers Association and worked at a small microbrewery for about two or three months. Then I went to work with Michael Hancock at Dennison’s Brewing Company, part of the Molson family, and that brewpub was owned in part by Prince Leopold, whose grandfather started Octoberfest. So I worked for royalty. I worked there for three years, then I worked at the Taylor Bait Brewery for three months before coming to Halifax. I’ve been at Rogue’s for 13 years.

Where else have you worked?
Probably the easiest one: a cream ale, or a seasonal like our Russian Imperial Stout. I also like brewing German Weizen---it’s a real summer beer that reminds me of brewing in Toronto. So they’re fun beers that I don’t brew all year round.

What’s your favourite beer to drink (other than your own)?
Propeller’s Belgian beers and Malt Runner’s German lagers.

Three words that describe your brewing style?
I keep it very simple, not very technical, going by experience and artistic knowledge. I’ve been doing it for so long it’s natural to me. I’m probably the simplest brewer in the Maritimes!

If you were going to collaborate with another brewer, who would it be and why?
I would probably do it in a Trappist monk’s brewery in Belgium, or a Lambic. Or a Rodenbach in Belgium, where they ferment in 4,000-litre casks.


Randy Lawrence,
owner and brewmaster, Sea Level Brewing Company

Where did you train?
I started homebrewing in 1978 in Alberta, I moved to Wolfville in ‘82 and picked it up there. I started homebrewing because I didn’t like the generic beers as a kid, and I acquired a taste for hops. After that, I started planting my hops in 1983-84.

How did you start brewing?
I’ve been brewing (as a home brewer and professionally) for about 30 years.

How long have you been brewing?
I’m mostly self-taught but I picked up a lot along the way. I spent a week training with some breweries in Montreal in the ‘90s, including McAuslin and Le Cheval Blanc, and took some seminars and attended conferences in the States over the years.

Where else have you worked?
I started at Paddy’s Pub in 1994 and helped design and build the brewery and we started brewing in 1995. At the time it was just Kevin Keefe and I doing microbrewing in the Maritimes. I spent five years at Paddys, then moved to Propeller and Rudders in Yarmouth (where I worked for 11 years). In 2007, the Port Pub owners contacted me and asked if I would come on board. I said yes, as long as I could do it myself. Now, I’m living the dream (although I’m working six and seven days a week).

What’s your favourite style to brew?
I kinda like making my heather ale because it’s all local---the heather and hops are grown right here, and the smell in the brew house from the heather and hops is fantastic. Really, I like brewing them all.

What’s your favourite beer to drink (other than your own)?
That’s a tough one. As a brewer you get a really challenged palette, so I like to switch it up all the time. I like a couple cans of Guiness, but I also like to drink the other guys’ beer. I’m all over the map with different beers---it keeps your palette open. And if I’m not drinking beer, I like a Single Malt Scotch.

If you were going to collaborate with another brewer, who would it be and why?
I would love to make a beer withmy friend from Germany. He’s been a brewmaster and a master brewer; he’s brewerd in Dusseldorf, and I love German beers.

Three words that describe your brewing style?
I’d use one word: approachable. All of my beers are approachable. Well, two: unique.


Graham Kendall,
brewmaster at Keith’s Brewery (Halifax)

Where did you train?
I completed a microbiology degree at Acadia U and later a Masters in Brewing at Heriot-Watt University, Scotland. While working with Labatt’s there was a lot of specialized internal training specific to their brewing techniques.

How did you start brewing?
It was a progression that started with helping my dad, who was a big home brewer. Later I took a course at Acadia during my biology degree that covered yeast fermentation. The prof was a lot of fun and gave me some ideas about working in brewing after university.

How long have you been brewing?
I’ve been working in brewing related work for about 21 years in a number of different capacities---in brewing, quality assurance, malting, packaging.

Where else have you worked?
I first worked for Grand Pre Wines, Wolfville doing real grunt work. Then off to Wellington County Brewery in Guelph Ontario. Later I worked as a Maltster with Canada Malting. And then I joined in Edmonton for Labatts as assistant brewer. Afterwards Labatts sent me to Columbia Brewery in Creston, BC where I worked as their Brew Master brewing Kokanee.

What’s your favourite style to brew?
I’m partial to ales---the yeast produces such distinctive flavour notes.

What’s your favourite beer to drink (other than your own)?
No other favorites can replace Keith’s, but there is a style of beer popular in Britain called Real Ale because it is unfiltered. Love it: flavours are typically rich in aroma and very creamy.

Three words that describe your brewing style?
Conservative to our primary beer---Keith’s---you need to ensure that variation cannot be tolerated anywhere in the process; perfectionist---it has to be brewed the right way---no compromises; passionate.

If you were going to collaborate with another brewer, who would it be and why?
Alexander Keith -- he’s the father of my favourite [beer].

Pin It
Favourite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Christine Beevis

In Print This Week

Vol 24, No 51
May 18, 2017

Cover Gallery »


Real Time Web Analytics

© 2017 Coast Publishing Ltd.