Tessa Gabiniewicz, the head brewer at Land & Sea Brewing Co., recently got back from Britain where she was representing Canada at an elite gathering of brewers.
JD Wetherspoon has a 40-year history in the food and beverage sector and a fleet of more than 900 pubs in the United Kingdom. Every year the company hosts guest brewers from around the world in a spirit of international collaboration and co-operation around all things beer.
This year JD Wetherspoon celebrated female brewers and Gabiniewicz was one of only five women to get the invite.
“I was pretty floored,” Gabiniewicz says. “There’s such a rich history of brewing in the UK and it was awesome to be part of it.”
Gabiniewicz was asked to brew her signature Estuary Session Ale, lightly accented with hand-harvested spruce tips that gives the 4.5 per cent (alcohol by volume) beer a distinctive West Coast flare.
As guest brewer at the historic 170-year-old, family-owned Hook Norton Brewery northwest of London, she brewed for a discerning British beer drinker. However, instead of her typical 1,500-litre batch for Land & Sea, she produced 400,000 litres of Estuary Session Ale. By mid-March, Gabiniewicz’s beer will be pouring from the guest taps at hundreds of JD Wetherspoon watering holes.
“It’s been a lot of work but it was definitely an honour,” Gabiniewicz says.
In order to meet the increased volume, she had the spruce tips ground up and combined with hops into pellets that were easier to package and ship overseas.
Jason Walker, founder and owner of Land & Sea, shares the excitement of having one their flagship ales showcased on a big stage.
“We are super chuffed to have Land & Sea beer available across the UK. Tessa is an exceptional talent and very deserving of this entire experience,” Walker says.
As one of fewer than 10 female head brewers in BC, Gabiniewicz’s career in the beer biz has been all about self- starting and breaking down barriers. In 2009, after moving to Nelson for a winter of ski bumming, she got a job scrubbing tanks at Nelson Brewing Company (NBC.) Two months later she was making beer under the mentorship of then head brewer Mike Kelly. Formal training through the International Centre for Brewing & Distilling (Edinburgh, Scotland) soon followed.
After leaving NBC, she headed north to help Sherwood Brewing Company launch in Terrace, before returning to the coast, where she further honed her craft at 33 Acres Brewing Company in Vancouver.
In April 2018, following a brief consulting tenure to help get the taps flowing at the Campbell River start-up Beach Fire Brewing, she landed at Land &Sea.
She has quickly carved out a niche for the Comox brewery with her session-able and accessible beers.