Many year’s ago, Miami University of Ohio was nicknamed “The Cradle of Coaches,” as it was the place where several famous college and university football coaches got their start. In many ways, Victoria’s LIGHTHOUSE BREWERY could be called “The Cradle of Brewers.” The brewers at two Victoria brewpubs and a craft brewery received much of their early training at the Esquimalt based brewery: Jason Meyer and Kevin Hearsum of Driftwood, Daniel Murphy of Canoe, and Clay Potter of Moon Underwater

The story of Jason, Kevin, and their partner Gary Lindsay was told in the book BEER QUEST West. Daniel’s and Clay’s stories took place after the book went to press.

CANOE BREWPUB, MARINA, AND RESTAURANT (Victoria)

When Sean Hoyne decided to retire from Canoe Brewpub in 2011 to start his own brewery, Canoe found itself looking for a new brewer for the first time in its 15 year history. His successor is Daniel Murphy, an Australian who came to Canada many years ago and got his first brewery job at Lighthouse. “I started in the packaging department and gradually worked into brewing. There was a great deal of excitement,” he remembered, “Jason, Kevin and Clay were all experimenting; we fed off of each other. Paul Hoyne gave us great freedom to be creative on the side.”

Daniel headed back to his homeland and then took his Canadian-acquired interest in brewing to Tasmania, where he worked for the unusually named Moo Brewing. But his attraction to Canada led him to return to Victoria in time to successfully apply for the job left vacant by Sean Hoyne’s departure.

Daniel compares working in a brewpub rather than a brewery to acting on the stage or in a movie.  “The brewing process stays the same, but in a brewpub you have an audience that often gives you immediate feedback.”

He notes, “I inherited Sean’s brands but not the recipes; I kept the core beers that built the place, but over a year or so, they’ve gradually changed. That’s one of the pleasure of working in a brewpub, you can tweek the recipies.” The familiar regular beers — Red Canoe Lager, Siren’s Song Pale Ale, Beaver Brown Ale, and River Rock Bitter — remain, with slight changes. For example, the pale ale is more North American than it was, and the brown uses American hops, while still maintaining its malt richness.Murphy has also developed some interesting new seasonals, including Artifact Amber, a Vienna lager that’s available in the fall; and Golden Lion Belgian Pale Ale.

“We’re in the business of making session beers,” he remarks of the Canoe house style. “We can’t be all over the map. We’re not into extreme beers; I like balance, beers with the flavours in harmony with each other. I’m more mainstream than many brewers.”

MOON UNDER WATER (Victoria)

In September 2012, nearly two years after it opened, Moon Under Water (see post of June 13, 2011) underwent two major changes: it acquired a new owner/brewer, Clay Potter, and it underwent a major change of focus, becoming a German oriented instead of British style brewpub.

Potter, a Victoria native, didn’t grow up drinking his father’s beer. Instead, each week, he and his mother would try a a beer from a different part of the world. By the time he entered the University of Victoria to study microbiology, he was already homebrewing. After graduation he combined his hobby and academic training working in the micro lab of Lighthouse Brewing. Then followed graduate study at Scotland’s Heriot Watt University, where he earned a masters degree in brewing and distilling. While overseas, he spent much time visiting German breweries, absorbing as much of their brewing culture as he could.

Back home, he worked as a private consultant and then at one of Canada’s most secretive breweries, Turning Point. “But I knew I wanted to run my own brewery,” Clay recalls.  And when I heard about Moon Under Water being for sale, I felt that this might be my last chance to return to Victoria and run my own brewery.”

“The brewing system I had inherited had come from Germany, but was being used by the previous owners to make Enbglish style beer. I reworked the equipment so that it could create the kinds of beer it was designed for. There was a niche for a German style brewery in Victoria and I had plenty of the fermenting tanks needed to brew lagers.”

Potter has created what he calls “German-fusion” beers, brews that are based on traditional styles but are modified to suit local tastes. Potts Pils, is, he notes, is hoppier than is usual, and is brewed with both Saaz and Cascade hops.Victorious Weizenbock, uses 60 per cent wheat, 38 per cent Munich malt, and 2 per cent chocolate malt and weighs in a 8.2 per cent. Creepy Uncle Dunkel is a dark German lager. The fourth regular beer is an IPA — this is the Pacific Northwest and it would be pretty difficult to operate a brewpub without one.

In addition to the bewpub’s own seasonals, Potter makes sure Moon Under Water has guest taps so that patrons will be able to experience other brewers’ takes on a variety of styles. “I want the brewpub to be a celebration of the rich beer culture of Victoria, the Island, and the lower mainland,” he explained. In early January, Philips and Howe Sound were the featured visiting breweries.

He also introduced a new serving style. Instead of the standard shaker glasses found in nearly every brewpub, he has purchased glassware that is appropriate for the style that is poured into it. “For ten dollars,” he explained, “people can have a beer of their choice and can take the glass home. I’ll probably lose some glasses, but they will all have our logo on them, so it’s good advertising.”

Paul Hoyne, who started Lighthouse 15 years ago, can be proud, not only of the beers his company brews, but also of the brewers who he has helped to train. Now on their own, producing their unique styles, they do his tutelage great credit.

http://www.moonunderwater.ca

www.canoebrewpub.com

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