Simon Jongsma

Brewmaster, Howe Sound Brewing

Where did you work before? Brewing at Stack Brewing in Sudbury Ontario, as well as working at Testmark Laboratories doing microbiology and toxicology testing. Prior to that, I was in university. Do you have formal training? No formal brewing training. I went to UVic for Earth and Ocean Sciences, and got a good amount of chemistry and biochem knowledge there. Working at Testmark Labs also helped me with a lot of lab practice and knowledge, which has been really helpful. I have been fortunate enough to work at breweries where I was given a lot of freedom in recipe creation and research. How did you get into craft beer? For some unknown reason, I have been absolutely obsessed with beer since I was pretty young. I started home-brewing when I was 17 and thought it was the most interesting thing in the world. I got a job at Stack Brewing basically as soon as I was 19, and really can't imagine being in any other industry. Something about beer being so simple and then wildly complex at the same time will keep me excited about it and interested in researching it for the rest of my life. What’s your hallmark style of beer? I truly love every style of beer, but my first love was definitely stouts. Lately I have been doing a lot of research with hoppy beers, their water chemistry, and dry hopping techniques. I am currently really happy with Howe Sound's Double IPA, and that's usually my go-to on tap right now. What is it you love about this craft, this business? What's not to love? I think I really love that it's such a tangible effort, you put so much time and work into recipes and process, and then very quickly you can assess and enjoy (and watch other people enjoy) all your efforts in a glass of beer. I also really enjoy the blend of art and science in beer. I do think that making beer involves a lot more science that art, but without an artistic side, beer won't truly be beautiful. The craft beer business is really great. It has so many different elements and never ever gets boring. You also meet so many great, passionate people in this industry. What is your ambition? My only ambition is to make the best beer that I possibly can. I want to continually gain knowledge and experience and never become complacent. Craft vs. big beer? I don't really have any bad feelings towards "big beer." I kind of see it similar to someone choosing to drink wine or gin or cider, as opposed to craft beer — that's completely their choice and preference. My goal is to make a high-quality artisanal product with great ingredients, and that's a completely different product than big beer. I don't think microbreweries should try and compete with big beer, I think they should strive to set themselves apart from it and show that to the consumer. Outside of beer, things you love? Living in Squamish is absolutely amazing and gives me access to a lot of outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, biking, and climbing. I feel really fortunate to have a job that I love, which also enables me to live here. I also play a lot of music, love good food, and I play squash pretty much every day. Whose work do you admire? Right now I have a lot of respect for Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead. Obviously this isn't surprising since he is one of the best brewers in the world, but the hype is definitely justified. I really like the way he approaches and thinks about beer and the brewing industry. He is completely focused on quality, and it definitely shows in his beer being delicate, soft, perfectly balanced, and beautiful. Drinking his beer is a complete experience that you don't get from many beers in North America. Anything else? I'd like to tell the average Canadian craft-beer consumer that they shouldn't be afraid to dislike a craft beer. Just because it's craft doesn't mean it's a good beer! I think the fastest way that Canadian craft beer will improve is with the consumer demanding better beer, and not just accepting what's given to them.

Simon Jongsma  Brewmaster   |   Howe Sound Brewing   |   Squamish, British Columbia

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Paul Gilbert