KPU Brewing Students Take Home the Gold

U.S. Open College Beer Championship honours two students’ Witbier brew
Ashley Hyshka

First-year Kwantlen brewery and brewery operations student, Derek Kindret. (Ashley Hyshka)

For most university students, beer is a beverage enjoyed outside of the classroom.

But for first year KPU brewing students Derek Kindret and Ryan Jurgens, their love of beer was nurtured at school.

Kindret and Jurgens won gold in the Belgian category at late May’s U.S. Open College Beer Championship for their Witbier brew. Jurgens also took home silver in the Bavarian category with fellow first year student Adam Chittick for their Helles Lager.

“[Winning] is exciting, and it makes you feel that the hard work you’re putting in throughout the year can be recognized,” says Kindret.

Both students say that their victory wouldn’t have been possible without Brewing Program Coordinator and Instructor Alek Egi, who Kindret describes as “a well of knowledge,” due to his expertise in and out of the brewery.

Egi’s confidence in his students led him to submit their beers to the competition for consideration. Kindret and Jurgens marvel at how supportive the instructors in the program are, and how they “want to help you learn, [and] want to share the knowledge about producing good beer.”

In choosing which beers to submit, Kindret says that timing was a critical factor. Because of the time involved in developing, brewing, and kegging the beer, it was the logical choice that the already-completed Witbier and Helles Lager were submitted.

Another factor in this decision was the Witbier’s popularity in the department and the tasting public. The Witbier has a light, crisp, and refreshing flavour. It is also one of Kindret’s favourite beers, which he describes as “a great summer beer” and “the perfect patio beer.”

Kindret, Jurgens, and one of their instructors were only involved in the brewing process. Other students tasted the brew, cleaned the tanks, and kegged the beer. It was a collective effort, and a collective victory, for the students and faculty in the brewing program.

“Any wins we had belongs to…the whole class. We’re all involved in the process of making a batch of beer,” says Kindret.

Students in KPU’s Brewing and Brewery Operations program brew the same beer twice. One batch is made on a small scale, and the second batch is developed on an industrial and automated system. It was the latter batch that was submitted for the competition.

“Making a good beer is hard,” says Kindret. “And then to do it again, to make that same beer, the same way with changing ingredients…that’s the challenge. It’s a labour of love, and you have to be patient.”

One aspect of Egi’s teaching is a challenging sensory program that has students sample a variety of beers and use their senses to note “off” flavours that are indicative of bacteria or contaminants. Then, the students go back into the brewery, determine the root cause of the problem, and remove it.

Many of the students in the department are mature students who already have jobs, but enrolled in the program to pursue their passions.

Kindret’s motivation for enrolling in the brewery program was simple.

“What is something that I love? What is something that I really enjoy doing, [and] what is something I can see myself doing for a long time?” he says. For him, the answer was brewing beer.

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