If you’re feeling dapper this weekend, you’ve got an opportunity to dust off your best prohibition era outfits and celebrate the Yukon Brewery’s 20th Anniversary. The brewery is throwing a shindig to celebrate, offering the public 20 per cent off stock in their retail store (off everything but the booze. Bummer, I know).
There will be live music, canapés, beer and cocktails along with door prizes awarded every hour. There will also some special 20th anniversary merchandise available, as well as the release of a wild berry brandy, a super exciting new product made with only Yukon harvested berries.
Yukon Brewing opened in 1997 as Chilkoot Brewing Co. Ltd. Co-owners Bob Baxter and Alan Hanson have been expanding their boozy empire to include not only the Yukon’s most popular draft beer, but also a full retail store and in the past few years hard alcohol and spirits.
The idea of opening their brewery stemmed from a conversation between friends on a canoe trip over a campfire, and over the past two decades has grown into a Yukon institution. Baxter and Hanson both started off as home brewers, but used their backgrounds in chemistry and mechanical engineering to fine tune their recipes and eventually sourced equipment through a brewing trade show in Boston, MA.
After being initially hesitant due to fears about the scalability of a financially sustainable brewery in the Yukon, Baxter and Hanson began building their brewery.
Baxter said one of their biggest turning points as sending a sample of Yukon Red to a beverage testing and tasting facility based out of Chicago, IL. When the results came back they were ranked the best amber ale in the world.
“At that time the highest ranked amber ale was 92, and we scored 93” Baxter said. “We were able to go public with the idea that maybe the best amber beer in the world was made down the road.”
Award-winning Yukon Red is now one of their core products, and Yukon Brewing had been giving the national breweries a run for their money.
“We’ve had fantastic local support,” Baxter added.
Baxter and Hanson continue to work as owners and chief operators, growing the company outside the Yukon. The brewery’s eight packaged products in cans and bottles are available across Alberta and British Columbia with some even finding their way as far east as Quebec and at the Hanover Zoo in Germany.
When asked about the secret to a 20-year business relationship, Baxter said, “Of course we didn’t always see eye to eye, but there was never a time where we couldn’t sit down, close the door and leave with consensus.”
They had worked together in government before founding the brewery, but not enough to ensure that they would be a good match as partners. “We were never in a pissing match,” Baxter said.
When asked about his favourite product, Baxter laughed. “It’s like picking a favourite child.”
Nevertheless, he admitted that he loves one of his original recipes, Discovery Ale, which is a honey pale ale that was one of the first beers they made. It has been discontinued and brought back, and discontinued again. The last time they produced it they sourced enough fireweed honey to be able to make it solely from local fireweed honey.
“It’s as good as I remembered,” Baxter said.
At the anniversary celebration Yukon Brewing will be releasing their first brandy. It is distilled from wine made with berries grown in the Yukon.
Using local ingredients seems to be a point of pride and focus for Yukon Brewing, and Baxter is really excited about releasing it to the public at the anniversary party. “We’re all here because of the support that we get,” Baxter said. “You’re only the home team at home”.
Everything You Need to Know to Go
Who: Yukon Brewing
What: 20th Anniversary Celebration with a prohibition/roaring twenties theme
When: Saturday, Oct. 7
Time: Doors open at 11 a.m., the event starts at 1 p.m. with canapes, beer, cocktails. There will be live music by Hayley and Co. from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Dress Code: flappers and dapper gentlemen encouraged
Where: Yukon Brewing is located at 102 Copper Rd.
Introducing: 20th anniversary special edition Wild Berry Brandy – only 800 bottles available