Microbrewery launches in city

Saskatchewan’s newest microbrewery is Back Forty Brewery, and its located right here in Yorkton.

Co-owner, and assistant brewmaster, Corey Geddes said the brewery came together rather quickly after having the initial idea.

“It was actually a year ago. We built it in a year,” he said.

Geddes said the idea for a brewery came about in large part because they owned a building which they had been renting out, but when their tenant announced he was leaving, they began to investigate options.

Talk turned to the love of craft beers and the idea of starting a microbrewery. Geddes said initially the idea was thought a bit extreme, but they were soon on an airplane to Nova Scotia to investigate how to set up a brewery.

The number one lesson was rather straight forward.

“The big thing, does the beer taste good,” said Geddes, noting microbreweries produce smaller quantities of beer, with distinctive flavours for those wanting something different from mass-produced bottled beer.

A bit of research and they took the plunge, purchasing the equipment from a Canadian firm, and beginning installation of six tanks, allowing for six different beers to be produced at a time.

The installation of equipment went rather smoothly, but there were challenges in establishing the brewery in the city.

“There were a lot of logistics,” Geddes said, in regards to dealing with the City of Yorkton and its bylaws. “They had to do their due diligence.”

Once they delved into the bylaws and found a microbrewery fit with the zoning, he said the process moved forward.

Geddes said it takes two weeks to produce a beer, so each tank can produce two batches a month.

Geddes said the process they use does not require them to deal with making their own mash, instead purchasing the ‘wort’ from New Zealand. Wort is the liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer or whisky. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.

The brewmaster for Back Forty is Brian Watson, also located in New Zealand. A brewmaster is someone who is responsible for the many duties related to making beer, including selecting the ingredients, creating unique beer recipes, preparing beer mixtures, and overseeing the fermenting process.

Geddes said locally he does the on-site work, with guidance when needed from Watson.

“I tell him what I want,” said Geddes, adding they create the recipe, and in a sense like a cake, he adds what is needed, the hops and flavours, to create the desired brew.

In the initial run, Geddes said they have selected six beers; Light Pale Ale, Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Porter, Pilsner, and East Coast IPA, which are rather basic recipes in terms of craft beers so that they can determine local tastes moving forward.

“They’re the lighter end of craft beers,” said Geddes.

So which of the initial beers is Geddes favourite?

“I like them all,” he said with a grin, then turning to the Pilsner and the Brown Ale as maybe his personal picks.

Geddes added they will be crafting other beers as they progress, already talking a black IPA, and fruit-flavoured beers.

It’s a case that people who like craft beers have pretty diverse tastes.

Geddes said the good news is that they have found a larger craft beer community locally than anticipated.

“It’s surprising how many people there are that are craft beer drinkers that we didn’t know were craft beer drinkers,” he said.

Back Forty sells product in-store at their 54 Darlington St. W., as well as through other bar locations taking their product including Joe Beeverz Bar and Grill in Yorkton.

Moving forward Geddes hopes they are in bars across the province.

“We have lots of people inquiring,” he said, adding they will soon be in Regina, and are actively looking into other options.

In terms of off-sale you can also buy product by the growler. A beer growler is a container or vessel that is used for the transport of beer. It can also be described as an air-tight jug, typically made out of glass, ceramic or stainless steel that allows you to take draft beer from one place to another without a degradation of quality.

Geddes said they may eventually look to can beer locally too.

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