Past and Present KPU Brewing Students Collaborate on New Line of Beers

Six graduates of the program worked together on the project

Alek Egi, chair and instructor of KPU’s brewing department (Ashley Hyshka).

As if beer wasn’t already glorious enough, the work being done at KPU’s brewery just made it a bit more enticing.

The Alumni Collection Series is a new line of beers developed by students in the Brewing and Brewery Operations program working in collaboration with six of the program’s graduates. Alek Egi, an instructor in and the chair of the brewing department, says that the collection was developed over the summer to connect KPU to the commercial beer industry, to stay in touch with the program’s graduates, and to advertise the university’s brewing program.

“It just makes perfect sense to work with our graduates and alumni,” says Egi.

Many of the program’s graduates currently work in various capacities at many different breweries. Egi says that some of them have found great success and won awards for the beers that they have developed.

Part of the “Alumni Collection Series”, the lemon drop kettle sour beer was developed by program graduate Ashley Brooks (Ashley Hyshka).

Ashley Brooks, a 2016 graduate of the program and one of the collaborators on the series, is a shining example of that.

She is currently the quality control manager at Four Winds Brewing in Delta. Brooks developed the “lemon drop kettle sour” brew in the Alumni Collection Series and decided to work on the project to catch up with other graduates from the program.

“It’s always fun to brew on another system and work with other people outside of your coworkers,” she says.

According to Brooks, the department had only brewed one type of kettle sour before and was interested in developing a second version to make something “different than your standard beer.”

Crisp and pucker-your-lips-sour, Brooks calls the lemon drop kettle sour “an acquired taste.” The brew is dry hopped, giving it fruity and citrus notes.

“It’s nice that they can reach out to so many talented alumni and get them in there during the off season, when there’s no students, and fill up the tanks with some creative brews,” she adds.

Egi describes Brooks as a “very proactive” student, noting that she already had a job at a brewery one month after entering the program.

The brewing program does distribute its beer, but only from kegs to growlers, not individual pints. The public is welcomed to stop by the lab and purchase some on Fridays from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

“Our beer sales were, I would say, phenomenal this summer. We were selling everything that was produced,” says Egi.

KPU Brewing and Brewery Operations program has performed remarkably well. Last year, its students won a gold and silver medal at the U.S. Open College Championship, and this year they were awarded the bronze medal. They also won a bronze for their Weissbier brew at this year’s B.C. Beer Awards.

When Brooks entered the program, she came from a microbiology background, which she drew from during her hands-on brewing work. Even though she has graduated, she says that she’s always learning new things at Four Winds. Her advice for new brewing students is to ask a lot of questions, reach out to others for help, and work part-time in a brewery while studying.

The employment rate for program graduates is over 90 per, cent and the brewing program is often approached by local breweries seeking new recruits.

“Everybody that wants to find a job can find a job in the breweries if they’re students here,” says Egi. “Our students are ready to start working in the breweries the next day, right after they graduate.”