My beginnings in brewing, science and the manipulation of matter started back when I was very young. I would catch bugs, take apart old radios and then fathom the enormity that is life and technology. This lead me into a science filled life, where I was allured with everything biology and chemistry had to offer. In High School, as my understanding of the world grew, I became curious about alcoholic fermentation in beer and started into the wide world of brewing.
Fast forward ten years and I was crafting my own beer recipes from scratch, selecting malts, hops and manipulating yeast strains to produce the flavours and aromas I desired. Gone were the days of rookie beer kits, instruction sheets and strange tasting beer. Now I was in full control of my brews, documenting every minute detail in 3 inch binder for future reference, entering beer competitions and visiting every brewery I could.
At this time in my life professionally I was working in the Aviation trade, initially on wheels and brakes of corporate jets and then eventually in helicopter parts storage, logistics and inventory. While working with technology was exciting and rewarding, there was always something missing…
Then the Olds College Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management Diploma course opened up for applicants. It was the first of its kind in Western Canada, based in Olds, Alberta, and promised an interested beer geek an education and career in an emerging market in Alberta. I applied immediately, notified my boss and waited eagerly for word back. Within a month or two, I was accepted and I finished out the spring and summer in the heli hangar, packed a lunch and headed back to school in September 2014.
I was thoroughly engrossed in my classes, taking on extra-curricular tasks such as isolating wild yeasts from the local Alberta environment, conducting membrane filtrations of beer and judging my first homebrew competition. Let’s just say I was in my element. I did quite well in my exams and even earned the Louis McKinney scholarship for academic excellence. I graduated with distinction, in the spring of 2016.
Early on in the Brew master program I had the opportunity to work for Village Brewery, and accepted it right away. I began working part-time during my second semester, and continued on to work full time in the summer, eventually on the brewhouse creating Village beers. School and work progressed in a similar fashion into 2016. As my training and skill set progressed and increased, I found myself facing an exciting opportunity; our current Head brewer was leaving to open his own brewery and we needed a replacement. I applied, did a couple interviews and meetings, and after a couple weeks of waiting nervously, I was rejoiced to be told I had been accepted as the new Brewery Manager.
In my short stint in my new position, I have learned so much about our brewery, the people that give it life and our equipment. I have found that every day is different than the next, and you have to keep an open mind, a solid degree of patience and an eye for detail. You have to see the big picture of quality consistent beer, while still observing the tiniest controllable factors to the process. In the end, it’s a labor of love, finding the career you know you will enjoy in 40 or 50 years. That’s what makes me smile the most.