On October 2, a small crowd of brewers and beer aficionados gathered at Dead Frog Brewery in Langley to celebrate the release of a special collaboration brew: New School, a dry-hopped Märzen. This beer was created in support of the Nancy More Award, a scholarship that supports women and other underrepresented people in brewing.
Each year, the BC Craft Brewers Guild partners with organizations to collaborate on a beer to kick off October’s annual BC Craft Beer Month. This year, the Guild has partnered with Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Brewing & Brewery Operations diploma program and host brewery Dead Frog to create the New School Dry-Hopped Märzen.
Proceeds of the sale of the New School Dry-Hopped Märzen will benefit the BC Hospitality Foundation and the Nancy More Award, which helps female or underrepresented students begin their careers in the craft brewing industry.
New School is a dry-hopped Märzen that pairs perfectly with one of the delicious bratwursts from Dead Frog’s kitchen (for those quick enough to snap them up on the day!). A malt-forward lager generously hopped with German-origin Mandarina Bavaria hops, New School (5% ABV) is a tasty twist on a classic European beer style.
This combination of old and new is unsurprising in a beer produced through a partnership between Dead Frog, the KPU brewing program, and the BC Craft Brewers’ Guild. Cole Smith, head brewer at Dead Frog, explained that he, along with many of his fellow KPU graduates, enjoys doing experimental brews, while Ken Beattie, Executive Director of the Guild, was looking for something a bit more traditional. Given the time of year (Oktoberfest!), a full-bodied lager seemed ideal. But Smith’s creativity needed an outlet as well, so some dry-hopping added the “new” to New School while maintaining the traditional German style.
“Everyone is loving the super-juicy hoppiness these days,” Smith pointed out. “So we went with that.”
“There was some back and forth with the recipe,” said collab participant Kristy Tattrie, KPU graduate and head brewer at Fraser Mills Fermentation. “But I think we really hit a nice note.”
Smith wrote the base recipe (later tweaked as other participants jumped in with their input) and hosted the brew day at Dead Frog. KPU alumni from several breweries in the lower mainland contributed their time and expertise – Mariner Brewing, 33 Acres Brewing, Fraser Mills Fermentation Co, Four Winds Brewing, and Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers were all represented (with Mile 37 Craft Canning donating the cans).
Part of the fun of this project, according to Smith and Tattrie, was the chance for KPU alumni to reconnect, troubleshoot, brainstorm, and just socialize. Talking about beer in person, fiddling with recipes, and enjoying a pint together are all aspects of the beer community that have been missing over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. To the participants in this collab brew day, it felt like the joy of BC’s beer community had been revived. KPU’s alumni connections remain strong.
In discussing this collaboration, both Tattrie and Smith emphasized how much the KPU brewing program has affected the craft beer industry in BC. With the fifth cohort of KPU’s Brewing and Brewery Operations program graduating this year, many BC breweries now have at least one KPU alumnus working for them. Smith was proud to say that three KPU graduates are currently at Dead Frog (including himself), in addition to one current KPU student.
“We’re spreading like wildfire!” Tattrie laughed.
Getting schooled at KPU
The importance of the KPU brewing program is really what the “school” part of the “New School” brew is all about. KPU is producing award-winning beers and award-winning graduates. It’s also providing aspiring brewers with a foundational education that will serve them well in the industry.
There are, of course, many accomplished brewers who never attended a formal brewing school, but instead learned on the job and slowly worked their way up. Smith recalls that he himself learned this way when his father first opened Dead Frog in 2006. However, he still decided to pursue his brewing certification at KPU.
“The way KPU puts together all this brewing knowledge makes it more accessible,” he says. “We come out of the program with so much base knowledge. But I still learn something new every day. That’s what’s great about this job.”
Tattrie acknowledged that formal education isn’t always necessary if you want to be a brewer, but said that she personally wanted a strong foundation. “I like to know the ‘why’,” she explained. She also emphasized the importance of KPU’s program in developing strong connections in the brewing industry, and praised the quality of the KPU instructors: “They’re an incredible source of information – really invaluable.”
Nancy More and why brewing education matters
Tattrie is among a growing cohort of female head brewers, but women still remain underrepresented in the industry, which is why the BC Craft Brewers Guild created the Nancy More scholarship. More, who created the KPU brewing program curriculum, has beer and business expertise going back to 1979. It was then that Labatt hired her as a technical trainee – and she was the first woman in that role.
“There were no women in beer when I started!” she lamented.
In her nearly three decades at Labatt, she worked at three different breweries and moved from trainee to assistant brewmaster to quality manager to head brewmaster (the first female one in North America), to running the Columbia Brewery in Creston. By 2005, Guinness came knocking; they were looking for someone who had her combination of technical brewing skills and business understanding. She worked in a high-level international supply relations position there until 2013, when she was invited to apply to develop the curriculum for KPU’s brand-new brewing diploma – and KPU jumped at the chance to hire her.
More knows that many craft beer drinkers might turn their nose up at corporate beer. However, she points out that corporate beer has valuable knowledge that craft brewers can use in their own education. She believes that the education provided by a brewing certification helps students avoid the common (and costly) mistakes made when one has to learn on the job. Knowing the science of brewing enables students to be prepared for the many hiccups that occur during the brewing process. Her goal is to help graduates make great beer and avoid the pitfalls that are out there.
“KPU wants brewers who can go out, recognize a problem, solve it, and prevent it in the future,” More said. She laughed when she recalled a former student’s joyful realization of this: “‘Oh Nancy!’ he told me, ‘Now when things go wrong, I know why!’”
Brewing for a good cause
The BC Craft Brewers Guild, which supports a collaboration beer each year and donates the proceeds to the BC Hospitality Foundation, created the Nancy More Award in 2020. The Guild and the BCHF fund this scholarship, which will provide between $1000 and $2000 this year to a woman or member of another underrepresented demographic who is pursuing their brewing certification at Kwantlen. This is the first brewing scholarship sponsored by the BCHF, whose other awards support students in the culinary arts and the wine industry. During the October 2 launch, BCHF Executive Director Dana Harris praised the Nancy More Award as one of her personal favourites.
Where do you find this collaboration beer?
If you’d like to try New School, it’s available now at Dead Frog in Langley and select BC Liquor Stores.