With the skill of an alchemist, an Invermere man has turned yeast, barley, hops and malt into silver and bronze at this year’s Cowtown Yeast Wranglers Roundup from February 23rd to 27th at Calgary’s Wild Rose brewery.
Paul De Guise of Fairmont Hot Springs competed against 90 other participants and 314 other brews in 27 categories to score a second place finish for his Spruce Beer in the Spice Herb and Vegetable Beer category, and a third place finish for his Steam Lager in the light lager category. The brewer is new to the competitive circuit, having only entered one competition prior to his podium placement at this year’s event.
“Now, since I won at the Cowtown event I could compete for North America if I wanted to,” said Mr. De Guise. “Overall, my score was better than last year and each year I keep improving, which is pretty good.”
The brewer, who collected the ingredients for his Spruce Beer from spruce buds found while hiking in the Columbia Valley, admitted he was not sure why he had earned a second place finish for his unusual entry.
“I was surprised (that I won) with the Spruce Beer because over the years I have been brewing the same thing and it didn’t get rated that high,” he said.
The Fairmont man’s Steam Lager, which earned a third place finish, was based on a classic recipe popularized in Northern California during the 1850s.
“I was trying to get a light lager for drinkability and it is one of the recipes that I stick with and that I really enjoy,” Mr. De Guise said.
Although the lager is brewed in a similar fashion to most beers, the suds are known for their steamy stage presence during production.
“A steam lager was a style made in San Francisco during the gold rush and it was called steam lager because it created a lot of steam and they used lager yeast, but at a higher temperature, which is what created the steam,” Mr. De Guise explained. “It was my last lager of the season and it was a bit of a higher temperature, but I didn’t get any steam.”
His beers faced stiff competition from hundreds of other entrants, which had to be selected by a panel of judges with a professional palate. Although his top beers earned him two podium finishes, Mr. De Guise also entered six other beers, including a double bock, stout, IPA, english bitter and a wit.
The local beer baron hopes to expand his kingdom in the future by starting up a club in the valley for home brewers.
“It would be great to have a place where I could test my product and see what people think,” he said. “I will just keep brewing beer and make it as carefully as I can.”