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.
Marek Mikunda of Steam Whistle Brewing joins us for this installment. Steam Whistle famously makes just one beer, in a now familiar green bottle. Let’s just say Mikunda’s tastes are similarly singular. Cheers!
DailyXY: What was your first beer, and where did you have it?
Mikunda: I was 13 years old when I had my first beer — Přerovská Desítka, a pale draft Czech Pilsner, of 10% original gravity. Also known as Přerov 10%.
How did you first become interested in brewing?
My father encouraged me to pick a profession where I worked with my hands, and that was stable so I could always enjoy employment. He thought something around food production was a sure bet. I decided to choose Brewmaster, as it would satisfy my father and my interest in beer. I went to a brewing technical high school when I was 14, graduated as a brewer and then went on to university — The Prague Institute — to study for five years to become a Master Brewer.
What’s your current brewing obsession?
Last week, I went to visit the headquarters in Germany for Krones, the ‘Mercedes’ of brewing equipment. Steam Whistle has ordered a new filler, bottle washer and filtration system from Krones, to be installed at the end of February. A Brewmaster can be incredibly skilled at creating a recipe, and brew with quality ingredients and methods, but if he’s not backed up by excellent filtration and packaging equipment, beer drinkers will never taste the beer the way it was intended. This new equipment is part of Steam Whistle’s devotion to quality and our motto, “Do one thing really, really well.” We already have a Krones filler for our canning line and with the addition of these three new pieces of equipment, we will become a Krones showcase as a working brewery in North America. I feel very privileged to be able to practice my art in such a well-equipped brewery.
What’s your worst brewing story or experience?
I work in the beer industry. There are no bad experiences — I get to finish every day with a beer!
Marek Mikunda’s Beer Recommendations:
Winter beer, the beer you’d come in from the cold for?
Consolation beer, the beer you have with a buddy who just got fired?
Celebration beer, the beer you have with a pal who just got engaged?
Hmmn, we’re sensing a trend here.
I grew up in the Czech Republic, the birthplace of Pilsners. I dreamed of becoming and have always been a brewer of Pilsners. Simply put, Pilsners are what I know and Pilsner is what I love. I have been the Brewmaster at Steam Whistle for six years now, brewing only Pilsner and I can whole-heartedly say I would recommend our beer for every season and every occasion, whether celebrating with friends or consoling a buddy, romancing someone or having a heart to heart with your dad. I did have the opportunity when in Germany recently to sample some beers. I would recommend that anyone tour a brewery when travelling and enjoy what a local region has to offer. Favourites of the Germany trip were beers offered at Familienbrauerei Jacob, Flensburger Pilsener, Regensburger Weissbrauhaus or any of the beers at Furstliches Brauhaus.
Image courtesy of D’Arcy Norman.