June 13, 2014

From the Heart of the Tree

birch beer up the creekWay back in 2007, we stumbled upon a very unique Yukon product that we thought might make an interesting ingredient in beer. That, of course, was birch sap or syrup. I guess we must have been right, since we have been making it every spring since, 8 versions and counting.

The beer is made by tapping the birch trees from a stand that grows in the general vicinity of Dawson City. There are about 1,500 trees that are tapped in this stand. About 1,000 trees are tapped into buckets, and 500 trees into a tubing system. These buckets need to be emptied every day that the sap is running, an onerous task without doubt. After the sap is collected, it needs to be boiled to drive off some of the water – it takes 80 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup. This is done out in the woods, since the stand is rather remote and it makes little sense to haul out water that you can evaporate on site. The sap/syrup that we use is not fully boiled down to the consistency of table syrup, which is why we are not really sure what to call it, sap or syrup. Really, it is at a midpoint between the two.

We are so lucky to be able to source out this very unique ingredient, and we are pleased beyond words with the flavour that it imparts to the beer. Due to the nature of an ingredient as natural as birch syrup, every year we get slightly different results, flavour-wise.  This year’s version, Up The Creek, is definitely sweeter than last year’s version. This is generally expected, as birch sap is mostly fructose, which is a complex sugar that does not ferment until it is broken down into simpler sugars. Up The Creek is very layered, with pungency shining through the entire swallow, at both the front and the back. Think full bodied honey ale, with a large dose of birch zestiness. Or don’t think – just try some.

Up The Creek is available at the brewery in growlers, as well as in 650 ml bombers in Alberta and at our brewery store. Get it while it lasts, since when it is gone we cannot brew more until the trees yield their bounty next spring.

May 23, 2014

How About a Yukon Holiday This Year?

yukon holiday kolschSummer has definitely sprung in the Yukon, with long days, warm afternoons, and a very active community. Biking, paddling, disc golfing…you name it. And, of course, tourists are beginning to arrive. What a perfect time, we thought, for a Yukon Holiday.

Now, you might remember the movie Roman Holiday, with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. And, you might think, ‘That kind of looks like them on the artwork’. And who knows, maybe they are. The person here who created the artwork is currently en route to Haines, Alaska, for the amazingly fun Haines Beerfest. If you have never been, put that one on your bucket list, by the way…

But the reason we have no idea where this artwork came from, is that we have nobody to ask! And, we have no idea what Yukon Holiday has to do with kolsch. And, we definitely have no clue where Gregory Peck or Audrey Hepburn fits into this.

But we do know kolsch…this is a pretty tasty rendition, if we do say so ourselves. The beer style originates in Cologne, Germany, and is pretty much a German version of the British Pale Ale. The word itself is basically an adjective meaning “Cologne-ish”, as in ‘from Cologne’. Seems like the perfect thing to name a beer that is popular in the region.

Traditionally this beer was made with a single pilsner malt. We changed it up a bit by using some Vienna malt, giving a bit of breadiness, and some malted wheat for some citrusy notes. Hopping is light, and done with traditional Czech Saaz hops. And, And, in traditional fashion, while an ale this beer was fermented more like a lager, long and cool. Alcohol content is 5.0% abv, which is pretty much in the middle of the range for the style.

Yukon Holiday is available at our growler bar, but it is the first beer that we have put into 650 ml bomber bottles. The bombers are available at the brewery, and throughout Alberta. We plan to have more beers available in bombers in the near future….watch this space!

May 23, 2014

Before There Was Purity…

roggenbierPretty much everybody has heard of the Reinheitsgebot, or the Bavarian Purity Law. This law originally stated that beer could only be made with barley, hops, and water. The original law made no mention of yeast, one of the key ingredients of beer. The reason for this is simple – Louis Pasteur did not discover its role in fermentation until about 300 years after the original law was written.

Part of the reason that this law came about was to save other grains, such as wheat and rye, for the bakers. If the brewers make too much use of these other grains, the price of bread might go up!

This law goes back a long time, to 1516. And it is to that era that this beer takes us…

You see, Rapscallion is a roggenbier. The word ‘roggen’ is German for rye, which leaves Roggenbier to pretty much describe how this beer is made. In addition to barley, a good deal of rye is used in the grain bill. Rye gives the wort a pretty aggressive flavour, so generally was limited to no more than 1/2 of the total quantity of grain. In our case, we used just over 30% rye. We also use rice hulls in the mash because rye is a grain without hulls, which means it absorbs water easily. Care must be taken when brewing to not gum up the mash – hence the use of rice hulls.

Rapscallion is relatively lightly hopped, all with Czech Saaz hops. Make no mistake, the star of this beer is the rye, which has a flavour all its own. Giving the beer a flavour, all its own. Coming in at an alcohol level of 4.9%, it is pretty much right in the centre of the normal range for the style which is 4.0% to 6.0%.

Find Rapscallion on the growler system, at the brewery, until it is not! And find out what you might have been drinking…if you lived in Bavaria about 500 years ago.

March 7, 2014

Deadman Creek Cranberry Wheat Ale

deadman creek 2014Way, way back in the late 1990′s, we produced our first beer made with local low bush cranberries. The base was a North American style unfiltered wheat ale, which we thought would make the perfect backdrop for the tartness of cranberries.

To get local cranberries, we hung signs around town looking to buy clean picked cranberries. And it worked, we got the ingredients we needed to give it a try.

Well, it turned out to be very popular. Which gave us another problem – cranberries can only be picked in the fall and, depending on the weather, sometimes there is a great crop and sometimes no crop at all.

In order to make it year round, we decided to purchase the cranberries from a supplier. We quickly learned that almost every cranberry ever grown is bought by Ocean Spray. So, they became our source.

Trouble is, they are a huge, huge company and we needed a couple of 20 litre pails at a time. Organizing this purchase was a pain for us and a pain for them.

Eventually, we found a supplier in Quebec. We used them for a while, although it was a long way to ship and resulted in the occasional hiccup.

We stumbled on a supplier in Vancouver, and that has worked fantastically. We buy cranberry puree (picture cranberries run through a blender) on a regular basis from them, and we are always impressed with the quality.

For the longest time, we simply called this beer Cranberry Wheat Ale. This certainly made the beer style obvious to the customer, but we eventually decided – this beer needs a name.

Deadman Creek is an actual creek, located in the Yukon east of Whitehorse. There is no special significance to the name – we just like it. And, we thought that it opened the door to a pretty funky piece of art that we could use for the packaging development.

Deadman Creek is one of our full time bottled products. These products find their way on to our growler system from time to time, and we generally don’t make a big deal of it. But, it has not been there for some time, and so we thought we would get the word out there.  Deadman Creek is a perfect spring beer, light on the palate, 4.7% abv, and rather tart and refreshing. If you have not tried any for a while, now is the time to pick some up on tap. Bring in a growler and give it a go.

March 7, 2014

Still Feeling Rash or Cheeky?

Last year, we dropped a Scottish Export Ale on the market. And, it was good. At least, that is what we heard, over and over again. So, guess what’s back?

And, either in the spirit of bringing back the past, or in the spirit of being lazy, here is the original post that went along with it:

In that well known and oft quoted Scottish language, “yer gallus” means, “you’re daring, rash, wild, or cheeky”. Kind of describes most of the folks here at the brewery on their best days, let alone after a couple o’ gigots of this Scottish ale! Of course, in that fine language, a gigot is a pint, and yer growler holds a couple o’ those, so come on in and fill ‘er up.

Scottish ales were traditionally defined by the tax that was levied on them – Back in the day, the amount of tax varied by alcohol content, so the lightest ales (under 3.5% alcohol) were 60 schilling ales, while the strongest (over 6.0% alcohol) were 90 schilling ales. Our Yer Gallus is 5.2% alcohol, and hence falls into the group of export Scottish ales, or an 80 schilling ale. In deference to the style, this beer is very malt forward, with a nearly indistinguishable hop finish. It’s mahogany in colour, ever so creamy on the tongue, and finishes with a hint of smoke, as we used a wee bit of peated malt in the recipe.  Robbie Burns would be proud.

February 21, 2014

Imperial This, Imperial That…

imperial pils

The brewers must be in an Imperial mood these days. We have recently brewed up our Imperial Red - Megalomaniax – as well as our Imperial IPA - Double Trouble. Now they have whipped up a batch of Imperial Pilsner, aptly called Imperial 69, in honour of the 6.9% abv.

As a pilsner style lager, we brewed Imperial 69 largely with pilsner malt, rather than the normal pale malt. However, we threw a bit of a spin on that as well. The brewers used a wee bit of chocolate malt for just a little touch of colour. They used some acidulated malt, also known as sour malt, which introduces lactic acid to the mix. Lactic acid gives the beer a little bit of a sour tone, sharpening up the crisp pilsner flavour. And, to add some zing to the result, in went about 10% malted rye. Now, rye is a pretty aggressive flavour – as an Imperial Pilsner, we felt that the malt bill should give Imperial 69 a bit more zip than a normal pilsner.

First hop is Sterling, an interesting hop who parentage is 50% Saaz, 25% Cascade, and then on from there. The Sterling hop gives a notable but delicate bitterness. Second and third hops are Saaz.

If you are looking for a beer with the clean crisp lager flavour, but with something else going on (thanks to our two good friends, acidulated malted barley and malted rye), then bring in your growler and grab some Imperial 69.

January 28, 2014

Trouble is Back

double trouble newOur Double Trouble Imperial India Pale Ale is back. By very popular demand, by the way. The hop crazy brewers have again  blown the company budget on grain and hops to produce another batch of this large size beer.

To produce this beer we up the malts, then really go to town on the hops, more than twice the hops for a small size batch.

Bring in your growler and fill ‘er up – we did not bottle this bad boy, so if you are a hop fiend, your growler is the only answer. See you at the brewery!

Double Trouble came off at 8.0% abv, so be careful out there!

December 20, 2013

More Yukon Grown Ingredients

black currant kolschAs many know by now, we were fortunate to have been asked to have a beer in a product available in western Canada this winter, an Advent Calendar featuring 24 unique beers. We took the opportunity to brew an IPA using black currants, which we surmised would suit the season. The timing was such, however, that we had to purchase the black currants from the south. Our Advent Calendar day was December 4…hope that you enjoyed the beer if you had the chance to try one.

While we were talking about how much we enjoyed the flavour that black currants brought the beer, we learned of some locally grown black currants that were available. We jumped right on that and bought enough for a brew.

So, available now at the growler bar at the brewery is A Currant Affair.  While our Advent Calendar beer (which was called 39 1/2 Foot Pole, by the way, for all you Grinch fans) was an IPA, we decided to go down a different road with this beer. So, we brewed A Currant Affair as a kolsch. Originally only brewed in Germany, this is a bit of an obscure style in North America. However, it is stylistically rather light in body with a moderate to slightly assertive hop bitterness. It is an ale, however is cold conditioned after fermentation like a lager. Our brewers thought that this was the perfect canvas for the black currants, and after tasting it, we think that they were bang on.

 A Currant Affair, 5.0% abv, now at the growler station in the brewery.

December 16, 2013

Where the Cow Jumped…

milk stoutWhile this should come as no surprise to anyone who follows our beers, our brewers love a good stout. Our Midnight Sun Espresso Stout has been an award winner for some time now, and we often brew up a batch of stout for our growler system. I guess it was just a matter of time before Over the Moon milk stout was added to the assortment.

Now, there is no milk in a milk stout, although that was not always the case. A couple of hundred years ago, milk was routinely added to the lunchtime beer enjoyed by many labourers as a fortifier. After a time, brewers began to experiment with adding milk to fermentations. These milk stouts were touted as ‘restorative beverages’.

Well, never let the government miss an opportunity to put the words ‘beer’ and ‘ban’ into the same sentence. In 1946, the British government banned the use of the term ‘milk stout’ in an effort to stem such innuendo that there might actually be a health benefit. The thing was, by the time the government acted, brewers were no longer using milk, but instead were using lactose, or milk sugar.

Lactose is one of those sugars that is not fermentable by brewer’s yeast. Stout produced with lactose are therefore a bit sweeter and creamier, without bitter edge of roasted barley.

Our Over The Moon milk stout uses a combination of black malt, chocolate malt, and roasted barley for that distinctive stout flavour, plus oats for body. However, the addition of lactose sugar sweetens it up and rounds it off, resulting in a rich and creamy treat, full of mouthfeel.  Bring your growler to the brewery, and give it a try.

November 29, 2013

Yukon Gold – The Gluten Reduced Version

GR Yukon GoldYukon Gold goes back to 1997, being one of the first beers released by the brewery. It has become a staple – in fact, it is the number one selling draught beer in the Yukon…period. Number Two is by a little brewery called Molson with a brand you might know – Canadian. And, in case you thought that was a horse race, last year Yukon Gold outsold that other beer by over 2.5 to 1…  Of course, that is just in draught beer, but we are still pretty proud of how much support we get from people in the Yukon. And, if that comes off as bragging, we have to quote Joe Friday (for those of you old enough to remember him) – “Just the facts, ma’am”.

About 18 months ago we committed to try to produce a gluten free beer. We experimented with all kinds of funky ingredients to avoid that cursed villian, barley. Everything we tried tasted like, well, not beer. And that just did not sit well with us. Then, we stumbled on a technique whereby beer can be brewed with barley, but the gluten in the barley is modified. It would not be fair to say that it was removed, because it is not…but it is modified such that it no longer is detectable as gluten. What is it then? We are not sure…in fact, testing agencies are not sure either. So, while this beer was tested at 11 ppm gluten, and the threshold for gluten free is 20 ppm, we are not comfortable calling it gluten free.

There is apparently not a reliable test available for gluten in fermented beverages. If there was, we would use it. We say simply this – to the best of our knowledge, measurable gluten in our Gluten Reduced Yukon Gold is 11 ppm. But, your body is the ultimate meter…try a small sample in our store, or get brave and bring a growler home. If it does not work for you , bring it back and you will get a full refund…we really have the need to know if this beer works for our gluten intolerant customers. We think it will, but ultimately you will tell us.

Gluten Reduced Yukon Gold is on our growler system now, here at the brewery

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