Brewer’s Choice: Jerry Vietz, Unibroue

Does every beer have its place? Are some beverages truly more conducive to different aspects of life? You could say it’s all a matter of taste, but why not look for something more — the exact beer for that unique moment. For such a task, recommendations from respected sources come in handy. DailyXY goes right to the source with our “Brewer’s Choice” series, where Canada’s greatest brewmasters shed light on their experiences from a life in beer, as well as their recommended brews.

Unibroue’s Jerry Vietz joins us for this installment. Vietz has a certificate in Brewing and Malting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as a diploma in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling U.K. He has been with the Quebec microbrewer for nine years, and was named Brew Master in 2007, putting him in charge of developing new offerings for Unibroue while ensuring the consistency of their classics, such as Maudite (rough translation: “Damned” — it’s an 8% beer fermented with champagne yeast), La fin du monde (tr: the end of the world — ditto, but 9%), and Blanche de Chambly (tr: Chambly white beer, Chambly being the name of the town where Unibroue’s based)..

DailyXY: What was your first beer ever?
Vietz: A Miller High life. It was awful!

How did you become interested in brewing?
In school I studied pure sciences for two years — biochemistry, physical and microbiology — and then spent three years studying food processing. That’s when I decided to concentrate on fermentation. Since then, I’ve worked in the wine and cider industry, and finally ended in the brewing industry.

What’s your current brewing obsession?
I don’t have one obsession, I have two: consistency and balance. The consistency is achieved through a strict control of process parameters while the balance is achieved through a perfect combination of the right ingredients at a proper level. That is the true art of brewing.

What’s your worst brewing experience?}
At Unibroue, we manage a variety of yeast strains to ensure that our beers are not only different from others in the market but also among each other. The yeast is the signature of the beer, so it’s very important to continuously make sure that the yeast is healthy and happy. I once had to deal with an issue around yeast vitality for a short period of time at the brewery. I had a hard time getting to sleep knowing that the yeast was not healthy and happy. If the yeast is happy, I am too.

Jerry Vietz’s Unibroue Recommendations
Winter beer, the beer you’d come in from the cold for?
Quelque Chose. Brewed occasionally since 1996 this beer has a 15-year shelf life. It is particular since it could be served either cold or hot. When heated to simmering point, this beer is a perfect beverage to enjoy when coming in from the cold in the winter. Enjoy it in a mug (heated) around a fire camp in the winter ideally with flurries falling down from the sky.

Romance beer, the beer you drink on a first date?
17th anniversary. It was named both World’s Best Dark Ale and World’s Best Strong Dark Ale, 2010 World Beer Award. This is my romance beer since this beer is still getting better and bigger after over 4 years of aging now, just like real love should.

Consolation beer, the beer you have with a buddy who just got fired?
La fin du monde. A Triple Golden Ale that is the most awarded beer in Canada, with over 30 medals. “Fin du Monde” means “end of the world” and therefore it is a good consolation beer for a pal.

The old timer, the beer you have with a retired father or grandfather?
La Terrible, an abbey-style extra strong dark ale. First of all, this beer comes only in large 750 ml bottles so, by the time you empty the bottle, you’ve had plenty of time to plan retirement. It is also the strongest beer in the Unibroue portfolio with 10.5% ABV.

Image courtesy of Unibroue

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