Kyle York from Canoe Brewing. (Lia Crowe photo)

Brewing Success

A sit down with Kyle York of Canoe

  • Aug. 5, 2020 10:00 a.m.

~Lisa Crowe~

How long have you been brewmaster at Canoe?

I took over the brewery in May of 2019. Previous to that I had been the assistant brewer since 2016.

Do you have formal training in brewing science or art? If not, how did you learn

the craft?

I have a Diploma in Brewing and Brewery Operations from the inaugural year of the program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley, BC. I was a homebrewer before that, but the two-year program really helped me understand the chemistry, microbiology, and operational requirements of a functioning commercial brewery.

Where else have you brewed?

Between my job as the assistant brewer at Canoe and taking over as head brewer, I worked at Victoria Caledonian Distillery and Brewery, which makes Twa Dogs Beer and Macaloney Whisky. The brewery/distillery was more than twice the size of Canoe and was also 20 years newer. I enjoyed learning about the distillation process but something was always calling me back to Canoe Brewpub.

How many barrels of brew does your brewery produce annually?

We produce just under 1,000 hl or 850 barrels of beer annually. With the exception of a couple of liquor stores in town, 100 per cent of that beer is sold in house here at Canoe.

Can you give a hint if anything might be coming soon (new brew, special brew, etc.)?

I have a few ideas for some fruited kettle sours. They are always a hit on our hot patio during the summer months!

What’s the weirdest ingredient you have ever put in beer?

I made a blueberry beer with butterfly pea flowers last summer which came out with an incredibly bright purple tone to it. That was a lot of fun to experiment with.

Does your brewery have some type of tradition on brew day or at another time?

No traditions that I can think of. I consider myself a very science-based individual and as such I just try to make sure I record as much data as possible such as pH, fermentation time and temperatures, water composition, etc., and then use that to continually improve on our recipes here at Canoe.

Have you travelled outside of Canada to experience another beer culture? If so, what was your impression?

I’ve travelled most of the west coast of North America specifically for beer. Obviously Portland, Oregon is a cultural hub for beer, but surprisingly Bellingham, Washington has a large amount of incredible breweries for the size of the city. I have a bucket list of countries in Europe that I will have to visit soon as well.

If you had to pick a favourite beer from your brewery, which one would it be and why?

My current favourite beer is our IPA. It’s full of Simcoe, Galaxy and Mosaic hops with a crisp malt backbone and only a subtle hop bite, so it doesn’t wear down your palate. My favourite beer I’ve brewed so far was our Juicy Pale Ale from last summer—and it will be making a return as the new West Coast Ale recipe later this year.

Any advice for those aspiring (kitchen/homebrew) future pro brewers out there?

Get experience in the industry before you jump in the deep end! It’s not all 9 am beers and festivals like some people may believe. Ninety per cent of my job is cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning to produce the cleanest and most consistent beers that I can.

Favourite beer and food pairing?

Can I cheat and mention that our new chef, Sam Harris, is going to be including a beer float on the menu this summer? It will be showcasing our Baltic Porter, which is a rich, chocolate-forward lager with notes of vanilla and dark fruit. I mean, what else could go better with house-made vanilla ice cream?

Hobbies?

I’m an avid runner. I have two high-energy dogs at home and I need something to keep off the beer belly.

Anything else you’d like to add?

It’s a tough industry to crack, but once you have, the interpersonal relationships between breweries are unparalleled in any other industry. I’ve met so many great people in breweries all across North America and as soon as you mention you’re also a brewer, you’re instantly part of their family.

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