Saskatoon Brewery — located in Saskatoon’s downtown core — prides itself on being small and diverse. The many varieties of Saskatoon Brewery’s beer were inspired by the travels of the brewers, which is obvious by their names: Grapefruit Hefeweizen, Premium Lager, Czech Pilsner, Classic Pale Ale, Saskatoon Berry Dark Ale, Double Chocolate Porter, Seasonal Pumpkin Spice and Belgium Peach.
The founders of Saskatoon Brewery identified a growing trend in the city and made a product to match it. As Saskatoon’s population continued to grow and differ, so did the culture and tastes of people as they became more affluent in beer, liquor, wine and food.
“Craft beer is the fastest growing segment of the beer market in North America. We saw an opportunity to bring something new, unique and relevant to Saskatoon. We all had traveled the world tasting amazing beer and found a new appreciation for brewing and taste,” said Chris Cole, brewer and general manager of Ingredients — a specialty liquor and food market on 2nd Avenue.
For many people, microbrewery beer — specifically beer of a darker complexion — tends to scare them away. The assumption is that dark beer tends to be heavier or stronger than the typical lagers, pilsners and India Pale Ales, when in fact the opposite is true. Saskatoon Brewery’s most popular beer is the Saskatoon Berry Dark Ale, a beer that is extremely light in body yet dark in colour and finished with real Saskatoon berries.
Every recipe at Saskatoon Brewery is made up of fresh and wholesome ingredients which are often locally produced. For example, the Saskatoon Berry Dark is made from barley bought from Biggar, Sk., Saskatoon berries from outside the city limits and our excellent city water.
Saskatoon Brewery believes in real ingredients in food and beer.
“We do not use syrups, concentrates, preservatives or any other artificial flavorings in any way, shape or form in the brewing process,” Cole said. “Our commitment to our customer to provide artisanal, small batch, handcrafted beer is strong and we are exceptionally proud of what we do.”
In regards to finding which type of craft beer best suits your taste palette, Cole suggests you approach beer tasting as you would a wine testing.
“We say experience [beer] the way you would wine, with the same tasting methodology. Roll it around on your tongue, breathe in air and savor the flavor. Appreciate the stories behind the brewery, their craft and the small batch as batches can vary,” Cole said.
New beer needs to be approached without preconceived notions of what beer is supposed to taste like, especially because the current notion of what beer tastes like is so homogenous.
Jordan Evan, Saskatoon Brewery’s brew-master, is a Red Seal certified chef and puts knowledge of complex ingredients and recipes to work in creating excellent beer. The understanding of food chemistry and combinations is essential in achieving an intricate, layered beer out of wholesome ingredients.
The people behind Saskatoon Brewery’s beer happily embrace the label of being a small brewery not available at the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Association as it separates them from the mass-producing companies that all seem to create the same beer. The products at Saskatoon Brewery, although not available for retail purchase from anywhere other than Ingredients, can be bought in 12 local bars, pubs and restaurants in both pints and bottles.
Local craft beer is an industry that will only continue to grow in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Canada as a whole. Just like with music and food, everyone has their own specific taste and comfort level. It takes a certain amount of courage to spend money on something you may or may not enjoy, but the risk is well worth the possible reward of finding the beer that suits you.
Next time you step into Ingredients, the SLGA, Prairie Sun Brewery, Paddock Wood Brewery or the pub, pick a beer you have never seen before — the worst case scenario is that you’ll have to try it all over again when your glass or bottle is empty. Cheers!