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 seek a more quenching answer and find the exact beer for that unique moment. DailyXY goes right to the source with our “Brewer’s Choice” series, where Canada’s great brewmasters shed light on their experiences from a life in beer, as well as their recommended brews.
Our inaugural piece features Paul Gautreau, of Calgary’s Big Rock Brewery. The (beer) pride of Alberta was introduced to me by my good friend Mingus Tourette on my first visit to his home province, a night of drinking Trad, rib-eyes, and then karaoke on Edmonton’s White Ave.; most of which is lost in the amber haze. But the beer, ah yes, the beer. I still drink it today now that it’s trickled its way out of province. On to Paul!
DailyXY: What was your first beer, and where did you have it?
Gautreau: My first beer would have been Carling Red Cap Ale and I am sure to have quickly downed it in the basement of my parent’s home in Kitchener,Ontario.
How did you first become interested in brewing?
I began as a home brewer in my apartment in Halifax, about 1980.
Worst brewing story/experience?
I was scaling out malt with a power auger and left it for a few seconds to perform a different brewing task. About 2 hours later I realized I had forgotten to turn off the auger and returned to find I had pretty much emptied the malt bin and filled the mill room chest-high with malt. We couldn’t even open the door to enter the room.
The consolation beer (the one you have with a buddy who just got fired or dumped)
Chimay Bleue: A dark, 9% Belgian Trappist…might as well tie one on.
The romance beer (for you to enjoy, as well as impress her)
Big Rock Grasshopper Wheat Ale: easy drinking but still lets her know that you are a knowledgeable beer guy. Have her beer served with a lemon wedge
The rival (the one you only recommend to a mortal enemy)
Old Engine Oil Stout, out of Harviestoun Brewery in Scotland: a slow sipper, like biting tin foil.
The personal brewing obsession?
I am currently enjoying blending traditional beer styles with non-traditional flavours and spices. For instance, we have a successful product called Rye and Ginger, where I created a Roggenbier and combined it with ginger but also left a substantial amount of sweetness, so it was almost like a mild ginger ale with the spiciness of rye malt.
The old-timer? (to have with your father if he retired)
If it were my grandfather, I would look to a beer that is still available but that was also available 50 or 60 years ago: a Guinness or a Bass Pale Ale.
Image courtesy of Big Rock Brewery.