Kaori Torigai loves beer in much the same way others love baseball.
Or World of Warcraft.
Like baseball, there are a mind-boggling array of statistics to consider. And, like World of Warcraft, there is a huge cast of characters.
And, as in both baseball and World of Warcraft, beer is social, it can be shared with friends long into the night.
As the president of the Yukon Beer Festival society, Torigai will be sharing beer with 1,000 people at the third annual Yukon Beer Festival this weekend.
For now, though, she shares her love of beer with friends just one table at a time. Or, she can whip out her cellphone and use an app to share it with the world.
“It’s called, Untappd,” she says, showing the icon for the app on her cellphone’s home screen.
“It allows you to track the beers you have had and you can see what your friends are drinking.”
If you see Torigai taking a photo of her beer, she is probably reviewing it.
There is another app called BJCP.
“It stands for Beer Judge something something,” she says. Then, after studying her phone more closely, “Beer Judge Certification Program. It is a basic guideline that everyone uses to judge beer.
“If you are having a craft beer contest, you can judge it.”
That is how Torigai got involved in the wider world of beer five years ago.
“My friend, Lara Lewis, who (used to) write a beer column for What’s Up Yukon, said, ‘Hey, you have a good ability to taste foods and have really sensitive taste buds, you should do this beer judging with me… we need more judges.’”
Torigai isn’t prepared to call this talent a super power.
“I don’t think I would have the patience or knowledge of molecular biology to understand how the chemical processes work to get the beer you want and know when yeast drops out at certain temperatures or how the flavour changes,” she says.
“Judging beers is something I love to do and I am able to taste and comment on a specific beer and how it matches a style, but I can’t offer advice to breweries.”
The fun, for her, is the discovery of new beers.
“It is great to go to different breweries and try this and that,” she says. “There are new breweries out there that are fantastically good.”
New breweries are opening at a shocking rate. Torigai heard that Winnipeg opened six new breweries in six months. And it seems like there’s a new one a week in Vancouver.
This bodes well for the weekend festival because patrons can sample many beers without having to buy a six-pack per taste.
“Part of the goal for this festival is to say, ‘Hey, here are all of these different beers and here are all of these different flavours and all of these breweries and let’s see what you like.’”
She’s especially excited about two types of beers from The Ale Apothecary in Oregon.
There, beers are brewed naturally in an organic process, in oak barrels.
“They brew very small, small batches,” says Torigai. “So, the fact that we are getting two cases up here is unusual”
Samples of these beers will cost more — five or six tokens at the festival.
Yukon Brewing Company will be represented at the festival with an apricot roggenbier and Pumpkin Spice Ale.
“For every season there is a beer,” says Torigai.
“There are beers that are great for drinking in winter – stouts, porters – as people often go to heavier beers in the winter because they are cozy.
“And there are a lot of beers that have some serious sweetness and some beers that are great poured over ice cream – a stout beer, it is delicious,” she says.
“There are some beers, too, with quite a bit of tartness to counter the sweetness of a dessert.
“There are no limitations.”
The third annual Yukon Beer Festival takes place Oct. 14 and Saturday, Oct. 15 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. Special this year is the Connoisseur Tasting Hour, which takes place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on both evenings before the crowds arrive. Tickets for the Connoisseur Tasting Hour sets beer lovers up with advance admission and eight free tokens.
Tickets are available at www.YukonBeerFestival.com. Early in October, there were only 130 of the 1,000 tickets still available.