What was your inspiration to start home brewing?
I’ve been a homebrewer since 2005 and I liked it because you can be creative with it and inject a ton of science into that. I’m an engineer as well and I found that the more technical knowledge I put in, the better the beer turns out. I like that I can put all this work in and at the end get a great beer to drink.
And you’ve always been the head brewer?
Since day 1! I was on a little home brew system figuring out how to do our first 4 beers, brewing in here when it was just an empty room, tweaking recipes, and getting ready for the big day. And now we’ve got 15 or 16 people.
What’s your bestselling beer right now?
Gypsy Tears, which is our hoppy red ale. From East Van With Love is selling pretty well too. It’s our first collaboration ale and we’ll probably go down to Portland and brew with Gigantic to do another and sell it locally there (along with a few cases here – don’t worry). We’re also in talks with a couple other breweries in the States for future collaborations.
Salty Scot was one of the first beers from P49 that made me sit up and say that this is something special and different these guys are making.
I was sitting next to a lady having a beer and she looked at me and said “You should make a salted caramel beer”, and before I could say, “Lady, don’t ever tell me what to make (laughs)”, I actually thought it was a pretty good idea. So I looked online and found that nobody had made a salted caramel beer. And we didn’t even test batch it – we just brewed 10,000 litres.
I noticed when you started brewing some big, bold seasonals that P49 started getting some serious respect.
You’ve got to have your 6-packs so when we started, we knew we wanted a hoppy-red, an India Pale Lager, and Old Boy came out as a more balanced beer that wasn’t too much out there. We also had a rotating 6-pack with the seasons, and that allowed us to go a little further. And with the bombers, we could do whatever the hell we wanted to! With seasonals, we’ll do either 5ooo litres or 1oooo litres depending on how confident we are or if it will be sold at the LDB or not.
How do you come up with the ideas for beers you have now?
Well, it’s kind of like we want to put out a new beer,and it just happens. For example, a few weeks ago, we had a bit of a yeast crisis where we didn’t have any ale yeast but I had some lager yeast and an empty tank. So I thought, well we already have our Hoparazzi and we don’t need any more, so why not just make a new beer? And we had just obtained 60kg of Amarillo hops so why not make it a hoppy beer. And our CDA was born.
With a seasonal like Lord of the Hops, do you brew a small batch to start with?
It kind of varies – sometimes we’ll do a couple test batches of 40 litres to see if it’s a stupid idea. We have a sort of wine-beer hybrid right now, and that sounds like it might be gross, so we’ll just do 40 litres and if it works, we’ll pump out more.
Beer and grape juice?
We’re just trying to figure out how to make it work right now – it’s just an idea we have in collaboration with a winery so we’ll see if it works. Dogfish Head has made a wine-beer hybrid, and right now we’re just throwing darts with our eyes closed. I’m sure we can make it work and make it delicious, but we’re just into trying crazy ideas to see where they go.
How do you go about naming your beers, and who does the amazing label artwork?
Steve Kitchen over at Combination 13 does all our art, and for names, we have this complicated process where we all sit in a room and have a few beers and say that’s a stupid idea and yell at each other for hours until we find something that works. I came up with Lord of the Hops – originally it was going to be a New Zealand IPA so that made sense, but we couldn’t get NZ hops. But the name and artwork were awesome so we just kept them.
I picked up a Vow of Silence bomber the other day at my tiny local LDB, and I was really impressed at the availability.
Yep, they told us that they’d take our next seasonal bomber and put it in all their stores, so I thought, cool – let’s make something crazy. So we made a 9.8% Belgian strong ale, which I was really nervous about making but I was pretty happy with it. Hopefully we’ll do that one every year and just tweak it slightly.
What’s your total brewing capacity now?
I think we have 1oo,ooo litres of fermentation space, so we could put out 1.2M litres / year, which is pretty crazy after just a year in business.
What’s coming up for you next?
We’ve got our 1-year anniversary beer, an Imperial IPA Mosaic Hopped IPA, and then Seedspitter is back, and Hay Fever might stick around because it’s a really good summer beer. And I’ve figured out a recipe for a Bière de Garde.
Do you have any favorites over those years that you’d like to see in production?
I wanted to do a Braggot, which we actually did; all I had to do was bring a bottle from home, and after everyone tried it, we definitely had to make it. We’ve pillaged a lot of my homebrew recipes already. I have a few sours which I’ve done at home, so those are in the pipeline. We also have a barrel-aging room now, and we’re planning to put a portion of the Bière de Garde in barrels and finish it with Brett as a little side project. And we’ll likely do another sour, probably a fruit Lambic. And then we’ll still have our strong barrel-aged stouts.
Do you have a favorite beer from 2012?
I was down in Portland and I had Boneyard’s RPM IPA and it was delicious.
Thanks Graham and P49!
Current beer lineup:
Gypsy Tears Red Ale
Old Boy Classic Ale
Seedspitter Belgian Wit
Hay Fever Spring Saison
Lord of The Hops India Pale Ale
Vow of Silence Belgian Strong
Salty Scot Salted Caramel Scotch Ale
Hopnotist Imperial IPA
From East Van with Love Imperial Stout
Humphrey Biere de Garde
Black Hops Cascadian Dark Lager
VCBW Collaboration Altbiere
The Unparalleled Pack (mixed 12-pack)
860 bbl (100,000 litres)
Where do I get the beer?
Wide distribution at LRS stores and LDB stores
Growler fills available at the brewery.
Check out their website for listings of local pubs and restaurants
Open from Noon – 9pm daily
Parallel 49 Brewing - 1950 Triumph St. Vancouver, BC, Canada V5L1K5
Tel: 604-558-BREW (2739)