Head Brewer and co-Owner, Bench Creek Brewing
I am part owner – but I don’t feel I’ve earned the right to call myself Brewmaster. So Head Brewer it is! Where did you work before? I interned at Wood Buffalo Brewing in Fort McMurray and in the inaugural class of the Olds College brewery program in 2015. How did you get into craft? I made wine at home and wanted to try home brewing; and I saw an amazing, funky-coloured box one day and bought it on how killer it looked – it was Phillips Hop Box! What is your hallmark style? Hop-forward American style ales. We’ve made pale ales, IPAs, and double IPAs – award-winning. But we love to push boundaries and start trends for hoppy beers in Alberta. One-offs: a series of German-styled beers in the summer, and our Villainous series, pairing adventurous one-off beers with our favourite screen fictional villains. What is it you love about craft? Well, the obvious perks – making a tangible product to be proud of at the end of the day, creative freedom, and tasting the fruits of my labour! Honestly? Some of the most rewarding feelings come from emails out of the blue – people saying they just tried my beer, love it and can’t wait for a new release. A tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Microbreweries vs big beer business? Interesting question. Big breweries have advanced quality and consistency – they set the bar for us to aspire to. Yet, I love how we can experiment wildly and our unique opportunity to connect with our community, our consumers, in a personal way big beer can’t. There’s a lot of animosity lately as they buy up craft brands. I understand not wanting to be forced off taps by macro-owned former craft breweries. But the reality is most drinkers started with macro lagers, there has to be some symbiosis. Whose work do you admire? One of my favourites and a pioneer, is Deschutes – consistently amazing beers, a great sense of experimentation while respecting tradition. I love Dandy Brewing in Calgary. They push boundaries for wild beers and sour fermentation with a killer DIY ethic ... good people. What needs to change? Public education. Craft brewers need to work together so consumers understand the value what we provide. Interprovincial sales – we need common practices. And, a change to the the way provincial boards interact would be huge. More innovation? Craft malting and interesting grains! We grow amazing malt-grade barley valued around the world. But other grains such as rye, triticale, buckwheat and spelt – love to see local maltsters try them. I am eagerly watching hop producers to see what they do next. Anything else? Thanks for letting me do this, it was fun. But I have kegs that need to be washed.