Canuck Empire Brewing is one of the many newcomers in the BC Craft Beer industry and have taken to the beer boom in style. While the Canucks may have missed the mark this year Canuck Empire is looking ahead with great numbers and a few wins already under their belts. Brewing out of Abbotsford BC this young team represents energy and yet another take on why their beer is the best in the pack. Between samples of his Pumpkin Patch Ale we caught up with brewery founder and head brewer Brandon Wiggins we had a few questions to throw his way and hear his take.
1. Why did you decide to open a brewery in Abbotsford?
Well my decision to open a brewery in Abbotsford came about for a couple of reasons. First being it’s been my home town for basically my whole life and I enjoy living here. The other reason is there aren’t as many breweries out here in the Fraser Valley as there are in Vancouver. But there is still a large enough population to support a brewery and develop a better beer culture. Until the time comes that I can afford my own brewery we’re working with an existing brewery to get our beer into the market place with less of a capital expense.
2. Why did you decide on the name Canuck Empire?
Well the original name for the brewery was Crazy Canuck Brewing which I incorporated a few years ago (2010) when I was starting to plan the brewery. Three years later as I was getting started to brew my first batch I noticed there was some trademark issues with the name. I sot advise from my corporate lawyer and then a trademark lawyer during which time I was advised to change my company name or risk being sued. After a few weeks of hard thought about brewery names I came up Canuck Empire Brewing and feel in love with the name just as I had with Crazy Canuck Brewing three years earlier. The name change was set into motion and a month later a done deal.
3. What is Canuck Empire’s specialty? What do you do better than anyone else?
Canuck Empire’s specialty is we started off experimenting and developing recipes with the best ingredients, not worried about costs, to create the best tasting beers we could. This caring nature has carried over to the commercial side of things with each beer having a unique twist and/or ingredients that not many other breweries have.
4. What styles of beer will you focus on brewing?
I hate to sound self centered but I’m going to focus on beer styles that I enjoy. The first is my hybrid English/American Pale Ale, Coast Trail Pale Ale, which is a very hoppy but not overly bitter beer as 80% of the hops go in at the end of the boil to add lots of hoppy flavour but not bitterness. Backcountry IPA will be similar in fashion to Coast Trail Pale Ale but with double the IBU’s thanks to a generous helping of Zeus hops. The other styles I’m really looking forward to making are light fruity wheat beers (Stargazer Chamomile Wheat) in summer and dark malty beers (Creekside Coffee Stout) in winter.
5. What do you see as being the greatest opportunity for success in the coming year?
I’m hoping that Stargazer Chamomile Wheat finished with raspberry blossom honey, from a local farm in Rosedale will help attract new craft beer drinkers to the market. Stargazer Chamomile Wheat is a light fruity wheat beer with subtle hits of chamomile and a sweet raspberry finish that people will really enjoy on a hot summer day. I’m also getting excited about all the festivals that happen each year, I’ve been to a number of them but never as an exhibitor. These festivals will be a great way for me to spread the word of Canuck Empire Brewing and meet people that have a passion for craft beer.
6. What excites you most about craft beer in BC?
The explosion of all the new breweries and them having to put their own twist on a particular style to stand out in the market place. I love trying new beers, I always have new beers and old favourites on hand, and I’m really looking forward to the future of craft beers here in BC and around the world.
7. What is your favorite BC craft beer?
Well I do love my Coast Trail Pale Ale as it’s such a flavourful and easy drinking pale ale. However I’m assuming you want to know about other breweries beers that I like. My favourite beer that I don’t make would have to be Whistler Brewing’s Chestnut Ale. There are many others that I love to have when they come out each year but the Chestnut Ale is something I stock up on to drink for a while until its released the following year.
8. What three words would you use to describe Canuck Empire?
Three words to describe Canuck Empire Brewing is a tough one. Our slogan is “Distinctive Beers for Offbeat Canadians” but that’s 5 words. But to shorten that one a bit lets go with “Original, local, & Delicious”.