women brewing up a storm.
Prior to this being posted, we found out that we were featured on Unsplash’s International Women’s Day Project feed!
Check out the feed and images created and curated by some truly amazing women.
Happy International Women’s Day!
The day was adopted by the United Nations in 1975 and today stands as a moment of celebration, freedom, power, courage, uniqueness, among many other wonderful attributes. In some countries, people find themselves amidst protests, fighting for their rights, still. Other countries simply bypass the day, not really taking note of it at all. Here in Canada, I’d like to say that we celebrate it (and we do on many levels) but the fact is that many people still don’t know about today at all!
So here we are, to share about strong and courageous women and make this day and these people known to you! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read.
Sparked by Unsplash’s International Women’s Day Project, we wanted to showcase a woman who is filled with the attributes above. Our choice seemed obvious, and we chose Sarah Maryschuk, our resident beer expert here in Fort Langley, British Columbia. And yes, if you are wondering, she is our actual sister.
We got to visit her on her final brewing day at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley and take some photos of her in the lab, brewing her final capstone project, which is a 5% Sour Pale Ale fermented with Norwegian Kveik yeast - a light and crispy beer that’s super tasty. If you’re local, come out to Trading Post Brewing in the Fort this Friday. It’ll be on tap all day and you can sit at the bar and enjoy some awesome bison tacos while you’re at it. Sarah can tell you something you don’t know about beer, the brewing process or restaurant management and you’ll leave with a full belly and a head full of new knowledge!
We had the privilege of asking Sarah a few questions about her experience in the brewing industry, why she’s passionate about creating an awesome guest experience, and what she is dreaming of for the future!
For a little context before we dive into the Q&A, Sarah is wrapping up her second year of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Beer and Brewery Operations diploma in Langley, BC. She also has her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) with a double major in English and Geography from the University of British Columbia. Sarah’s lived on BC’s West Coast for almost two years now, working at Trading Post Brewing first as a bartender, then as bar manager and now as the Fort Eatery restaurant manager.
Worthy (W): Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with us today Sarah! We hear you’re on to the final stages of your capstone brewing project at KPU. Can you tell us a bit about that project and maybe what brought you here to Langley to learn how to brew beer?
Sarah (S): I grew up just north of Kelowna in a little town called Winfield, and we spent a lot of time walking by vineyards and orchards and we really learned to value the local and small time producer. Once I got into high-school I started working at a small restaurant where the head bartender was creating cocktails from local fruit and products, and infusing spirits with lots of unique ingredients. This sparked my interest in bartending, and from there I grew to love local wine and beer.
I started bartending when craft beer was making its way into the Okanagan and found that I preferred the unique flavours coming from beers like King Heffy from Howe Sound or Postmark’s West Coast IPA over some of the domestic products most bars were serving. I worked as a bartender in a few different bars throughout university to pay for my tuition and ended up working in a private liquor store that specialized in craft beer from both BC and the wider Pacific Northwest. This is where I really learned to love beer and the variation and competition that came with it. Instead of going to grad school I decided to pursue a dream of opening my own restaurant of some sort.
I found Kwantlen’s brewing program online and was attracted by the course selection they offered. In your first year you learn about the chemistry and microbiology involved in brewing beer, and in second year you progress into more business planning and recipe development so at the end of the program you should hypothetically be well rounded to work in any aspect of the industry you want.
W: What has surprised you about the beer industry?
S: That’s a hard question because I’m constantly learning and experiencing new things the more I get involved and the more people I meet.
First and foremost it’s an incredibly collaborative industry, and it’s not uncommon for brewers or brewery owners to call on one another for answers to questions they have about their own processes. It’s almost shocking how willing people are to share their ideas and help out in a market that’s increasingly competitive. I guess that’s part of what makes it unique and attractive to people though, in that you can compete against one another and still collaborate in a way that pushes the industry forward.
W: What do you hope to do with your education and experience? We hear your family might be involved in some way or another with a future idea that you’ve been brewing up? No pun intended…
S: Ideally I’d love to be running a restaurant or brewpub where we’re offering BC craft products across beer, wine, and spirits. Alongside this we’d be brewing small batch beers to compliment what the industry already has to offer. This gives me an opportunity to continue to pursue my passion for the hospitality industry while using the education I’ve obtained over the last few years.
My mom is also pursuing a diploma in Pastry Arts, and my sister works in media and communications so we kind of have the opportunity to market and create a really unique idea that brings together all our strengths. The biggest challenge with this, of course, is capital and finding the location we feel is right for our ideas.
We’re from the Okanagan originally, but we’re not entirely sure that’s where we want to start our company and we’ve been talking about locations on the island. Community is important to us and whatever we end up building we want be able to support the place we settle in, be it creating a space for locals or helping support the local economy.
W: What do you look for in a great brewery?
S: In regards to the actual brewery space it needs to be welcoming, and the staff have to be knowledgeable. Being friendly and willing to have a conversation is important too, but I want to be able to ask them about the beer if I have questions too. In regards to the beer, I’ll try anything once.
But, to be a great brewery in my opinion the beers have to be balanced and don’t have any crazy off flavours. They are true to style if they’re trying to be, or expected flavours actually come through in more experimental or unique beers. Consistency is also important for mainstays. Beer comes from crops, and there are changes in crops from year to year. But consistency in the quality of a product has to be maintained for a brewery to be great.
On the other hand, taking chances and pushing the bounds of what currently defines craft beer is important for the industry too. I think Four Winds, in Delta BC, does an amazing job of this. They’ve got a really solid core line-up, and they’ve built a few other series that they rotate throughout the year. On top of that they have special releases that they produce every once in a while, but their beers are always high quality and unique.
W: Finally, we have to know, what is your favourite beer and why?
S: It changes throughout the year and depends on the season, but typically my favourite style is saison. I like how much variety there is in the style. Belgian saisons tend to be drier and have a lot of phenols and balanced fruit. French saisons are more spicy and bigger in flavour profile. Then you have everything in between. It’s a really cool style that allows for a lot of creativity.
My go to beer that I’ll buy time after time though is La Maison from Four Winds. It’s a low ABV beer (at 4.5% ABV) that’s a little hoppy, but they ferment it with wild yeast that gives it a bit of a peppery spicy kick. I like low ABV beers too because I don’t have a high alcohol tolerance, so being able to have a full glass or pint of something lower is nice without having to worry about driving inebriated.
W: Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us today. We look forward to supporting you and hearing about any sweet endeavours in the future.
S: You’re welcome, and you’re more than welcome to come by the eatery and I’d love to share my love of beer with you!
Again, you can catch Sarah at Fort Langley’s Trading Post Eatery on most nights, either managing the restaurant or serving up a mean brew or cocktail behind the bar. Or, follow her on Instagram for weekly beer suggestions and ideas. For more information on her Sour Pale Ale, you can download this poster.