Canadian Brewing Awards 2014: Old Yale Sasquatch Stout is beer of year

Looks like there are going to be a few more beer runs up the Valley this summer.
Old Yale Brewing Co. took home the coveted beer of the year prize at the Canadian Brewing Awards on Saturday night for its Sasquatch Stout, which should see a generous uptick in demand for the Chilliwack operation.
The award was collected at the ceremony in Fredericton, N.B., by Old Yale brewmaster Larry Caza, who founded the brewery in 2000.
“I was just at home today watching it on the live feed and we saw the stout win the gold medal, which was fantastic, I was going crazy over that,” operations manager Zach VanLeeuwen told me Saturday night. “And then next thing you know they announce the beer of the year and I just started jumping up and down and screaming for joy.
“You would expect a hoppy or double-hopped IPA (to win),” VanLeeuwen said. “For a stout to win, it really goes to show you how great a beer it is.”
Sasquatch is something of a B.C. classic, an established favourite that won a gold medal at the CBAs way back in 2005. But its origins go back further, according to VanLeeuwen. He says Caza told him the recipe came from a blend of two homebrews that Caza made after he and his friends were unable to decide which was better.
“That’s what Sasquatch stout is today, still, after all these years,” VanLeeuwen said.
Old Yale’s victory capped another great national awards for B.C. breweries, with gold medals for East Vancouver neighbours Coal Harbour and Parallel 49, Surrey’s Russell Brewing Company, Cannery Brewing in Penticton and another Fraser Valley brewery, Mission Springs.
The awards, which took place at the convention centre in Fredericton, N.B., saw Toronto’s Great Lakes Brewery win Brewery of the Year for the second year running. In an incredible sweep, Great Lakes also took home all three medals in the fiercely contested American-style IPA category, which will likely have a few hopheads in B.C. spluttering into their pints of Fat Tug.
B.C. breweries swept two categories, Stout (Old Yale, Bridge Brewing, Granville Island Brewing) and Honey/Maple Beer (Cannery, Fernie Brewing, Parallel 49). There were also medal wins for Vancouver’s Steamworks, Surrey’s Central City and Barkerville Brewing in Quesnel, which only opened in February.
Old Yale’s overall win comes at an optimal time for the brewery, said VanLeeuwen, who only started work there in March when the facility was taken over by the local 2Story Group. Production has been ramped up, new bottling and canning lines are planned, and the overall goal is to move location to make the brewery more of a destination.
“We’re at a good point now. Even before the awards we felt like we know Larry makes fantastic beer and now we’ve got support from ownership that they’re really wanting to push this thing forward. This award will just kind of tip it over the edge,” VanLeeuwen said, who’s now bracing for a surge in demand at the brewery.
“I’m looking forward to Monday but I’m a little worried about what my inbox is going to look like,” he added.
If you want to get the best beer in Canada fresh from the source, Old Yale is open for growler fills Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (VanLeeuwen says there are plans to extend hours on Friday and introduce a half day on Saturday.) It’s located at 7965 Venture Place, just off Highway 1 at exit 116.
A full list of winners will be posted when they’re officially released. Congratulations to all the winners, and especially Old Yale.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *