Imagine the serendipity of being able to tweet about craft beer taps while lunching at a popular Whitehorse restaurant and not an hour later, being approached at Yukon Brewing with a “that was YOUR tweet?”. I arrived just in time for the 2 pm tour, a 45-minute look behind the scenes of Yukon’s most celebrated (and only) brewery.
65% of all beer sold in the Yukon is produced by Yukon Brewing, with Yukon Gold the particular favourite of the bunch. The newest in the collection is Bonanza Brown (currently only available in mixed packs).
Yukon Brewery opened its doors in 1997, at the time calling itself Chilkoot Brewing Company. The company was conceived on a canoe trip, when owners Alan and Bob brainstormed at the campfire.
16 years later, Yukon Brewing is known across the province and beyond. Eight of its beers are available in both Alberta and BC, and according to the website, a few have made their way to Germany’s Hannover Zoo. Yes, a zoo halfway around the world.
A display of taps in the sales room brings a continual flow (pardon the pun) of growler-toting locals, who go for the flavours currently offered in Baktun 14, Pitchfork Saison, Blokes Poke ESB, Boreal Forest Cream Ale, Bonanza Brown, and Double Trouble IPA. Through the doors to the plant, you’re walked to the back of the room where Canadian whisky has been aging for the past three years.
The barrels have been getting a lot of attention, with locals asking “when will it be ready?” on a regular basis. The vodka is brought to the brewery as alcohol; Yukon Brewing infuses the vodka with additional ingredients.
Everything from eco-friendly cans with pull tops to re-using bottles–other brands’ bottles as well–keeps the brewery’s costs down while being kind to the environment. Bottles are sanitized, labels removed, and the glass inspected for potential cracks, before being sent down the production line.
Spent grain is taken off the brewery’s hands and given to a local pig farmer for food. A great win-win as pick-up and removal costs are eliminated. I’m betting the pig farmer fills up a few growlers on his visits.
At the end of the tour, several samples are poured, including Chilkoot, Deadman Creek (cranberry wheat ale), Yukon Gold English Pale Ale (with more body than a lager), Discovery — Honey ESB (the first beer in the collection), Yukon Red Amber Ale, Ice Fog IPA (with 44 IBU’s – international bitter units), Lead Dog Olde English Ale, and Midnight Sun Espresso Stout (using local coffee brewers Midnight’s Sun’s espresso beans).
A range of products to take home includes shirts, hoodies, and beer-infused soaps, something I’m seriously regretting not having brought home with me on this journey. Favourite beer hands-down is the Double Trouble IPA. It’s incredibly good. I hope it will find its way down to Vancouver.
The tour costs $5, with proceeds donated to a local charity. The brewery also supports several Yukon events and causes each year. Check the Yukon Brewing website for the current tour schedule and where to buy their craft beers near you.