Originally posted on wanderbrewbc.com
Author: Jamie, Wanderbrew BC
A brew day with Old Yale Brewing
A drive east out of Vancouver for us normally means B-lining it straight to Penticton and thinking nothing of the Fraser Valley. Earlier this week that changed when we headed to Old Yale Brewing in Chilliwack for the very first time!
It’s a little far off from our regular Vancouver craft beer scene but we were excited to check it out! The only interaction we had had with Old Yale was months ago when we bought a Summer Craft Cooler pack of their four core beers: Pilsner, Pale Ale, Mango and Blonde. We loved the beer, but unfortunately had never been to the brewery or picked anything else up from them since. The opportunity for a showcase with Old Yale was welcomed and we planned a day of brewing and tasting at their very welcoming tasting room.
Old Yale Brewing is all about their series!
To start their six core beers are perfect for just about any outdoor experience you’ve got planned. Some of the names themselves give it away: BC Backyard Lager, Off Trail Pale Ale or Old Paddle Pilsner. Every brightly coloured can features a stick man in the outdoors doing activities that range from camping to hiking and even up river without a paddle. Their idea is to embrace the outdoors in their beer and find a taste that fits any outdoor adventure you might find yourself on. They have a Lager that you’d drink around a campfire in your backyard, a big flavoured hoppy IPA to get you out of a funk on those wet, dark west coast days, a Pale Ale that would satisfy anyone’s thirst after a mountain hike, and a mango infused Wheat beer for those hot and sandy beach days.
They also have a Tall Tale Series, which is based on local BC folk-lore. The award-winning and extremely popular Sasquatch Stout is based on the stories of local Sasquatch sightings, which have been documented for over 200 years. Their Vanishing Monk Belgian Witbier and Screaming Banshee Irish Cream Stout both coincide with folklore of ghost, ghouls, and mysterious happenings in the Fraser Valley. Intrigued? Try googling it and you’ll get hammered with tons of stories.
They also have their Trailblazer Series. It’s a little less spooky than the previous series but no less tasty. It focuses on new, unique flavour pairings, as well as, collaborations with partnered breweries. Currently the Oak Aged Braggot collaboration with 2 Crows Brewing Co. is a strong, bold, oak-aged Braggot (Braggot is a form of mead brewed with honey and barley). The bottle coincides with the outdoor styled labeling of their core beers as it sports the well-known Mt. Cheam and Lady Peak. The single small batch limited releases have been a fun way to spice up Old Yale’s brewing life. They are always available in pints and bottles in the tasting room and you’ll see them around the liquor stores, but once they’re gone, they are gone! In the past they have also done a Himalayan Salted Caramel Porter, Fresh Hop Double IPA, a Wet Hop Sour Weisse, and a Kettle Sour Plum Porter.
We spent the day with Nick Fengler, the Brewmaster at Old Yale, a young guy with a lot of experience. He was originally a Field Biologist with degrees in chemistry and biology but 7 years ago he made a big career change. Starting his new journey with Ravens Brewing and later becoming a founding developer of the Brewing and Brewery Operations course at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, he moved on to Dead Frog and became head brewer within a short period of time. Jumping that ship the opportunity at Old Yale Brewing came up and he started back in May of 2017. Since than Old Yale has seen their family grow with a number of new young additions that continue to spark life into the brand and the beer itself. The whisper of expanding the brewery is getting louder and louder as their current facility is packed full of tanks and office space. Lucky they have room to expand their operation into neighbouring buildings and continue to build the flourishing brand.
We were lucky enough to have most of the tasting room to ourselves. But as with many brewery tasting rooms, Mondays can be pretty sleepy! Although from 1pm onwards a steady stream of locals and visitors did fill up the space. Why wouldn’t they!? The tasting room is absolutely beautiful, the 10 beer tasting list has something for everyone, there’s pizza ready to eat at 11am, and the staff were some of the friendliest we’d met. Although modern and clean-cut you also get a sense of coziness while sitting at any of the high top tables. Prices are right and they have a flight and pizza deal, so I mean it’s a quick stop that could easily turn into an entire afternoon or evening.
Speaking of evenings, Old Yale has got some pretty great reoccurring event nights that have definitely gotten local attention. Blast From the Cask is an event every Wednesday where they tap a new cask at 2pm including the occasional guest cask. Throwdown Thursday is a vintage video game and board game night, as well as, a beer and pizza deal (16oz. and 2 slices) for ten bucks. Lastly, every Sunday has turned into an Open Mic Night with a talented Old Yale employee leading the show until others join in. Get there early and stay late, because we’ve been told that the tasting room fills up pretty quickly!
In all honesty we had no idea how much was going on at Old Yale Brewing! The six core beer lineup they have would normally be enough for some breweries but they are continuing to experiment and collaborate to create some unique and high quality beers. With a couple of brewers and 4 other staff working in the back, it’s amazing they find the space, time and energy to produce such a large line up of beer. Not to mention the other tasting room staff that bring Old Yale Brewing to life. There’s a buzz when you enter the tasting room – it’s bright, colourful, and usually has something fun going on. The young energy is something to also note, even on a Monday everyone was smiling, laughing, and most importantly extremely welcoming. Not just to us either! Any interaction we saw was a warm, happy one at the very least.
Unlike many breweries that have been around for a long time Old Yale has not lost its craft pureness or community focus. Instead of pumping out the same old beer that they have always produced it is refreshing to see that they are committed to experimenting with new flavours and ideas. If you’re a local to the area we’d say you’re super lucky to have a spot like this to hang out at!
Favourite Staff Beer Picks (currently):
Nick (Head Brewer) – West Coast IPA, Oak Aged Braggot Collab
Trevor (Senior Brewer) – West Coast IPA
Heather (Marketing) – Moon Dance Mango Wheat
Lauren (Tasting Room) – Off Trail Pale Ale
Jamie (WanderBrewBC) – Off Trail Pale Ale
Haley (WanderBrewBC) – Moon Dance Mango Wheat
*Most, if not all, staff listed above said they liked them all, just depended on the occasion. We can definitely agree with that!
Make sure to check out and follow their instagram account @oldyalebrewing. It’s done extremely well! Lots of up to date information on beer releases and events.