Granville Island Brewing has been undergoing some quiet changes over the last little while, with the most recent being the hire of their new brewmaster Kevin Emms.
With a background from Coal Harbour Brewing and Deep Cove, Emms certainly isn’t new to the beer scene in Vancouver, but we had a few questions for him as to what drew him to Granville Island and what his vision of the future of the brewery looks like.
Kevin, you recently joined GIB as the head brewmaster, how has the transition been?
Kevin Emms: Full on! The summer is the busiest time of year for brewers because everyone gets really thirsty. Joining at the beginning of the summer had me diving in headfirst, producing new recipes for the small-batch program since literally day one.
What would you say were the factors that drew you to GIB?
Granville Island Brewing is a legendary brand in the history of brewing in Canada. I wanted the opportunity to work with a company that had already found its place in the brewing landscape, and add my own flair to the story to help move the brand forward as that landscape changes.
What sort of experience or lessons do you think you bring with you from Coal Harbour and Deep Cove?
I started at those companies when they were brand new start-ups, meaning that I brewed the very first batches at both breweries. I learned to have confidence in my recipes and processes, and I learned a lot about trouble shooting. All systems have quirks, but on new ones it is up to you to figure it out –no other brewers have done it for you already!
Do you have a signature style when it comes to brewing?
All brewers have their little biases, but part of my role at Granville Island is to brew whatever style may come to mind. I am not so much showcasing a signature style, as I am playing with everything possible in the brewing realm, from German to Belgian, traditional to experimental.
What sort of legacy would you like to leave at GIB?
I would like to help play a role in bringing more passive beer drinkers into the world of craft beer, to help get people interested and excited in the possibilities of this amazing beverage.
Are there any styles or techniques that you’re interested in experimenting with?
We just brewed a Gose – a soured wheat beer with coriander and a pinch of salt – for our “Growl at the Moon” growler fill program. We conditioned the beer on 100 pounds of nectarines, freshly cut that day! The entire experience of that beer was wild. The other night I brewed an IPA with a crazy amount of fresh hops picked right off the vine earlier that day. I think after a few years here, there won’t be much in terms of brewing techniques I haven’t tried.
Other than your own beer, what are some of your local favourites right now?
I have always really liked Main Street, especially their Westminster Brown, which in my words is a “brewers beer.” Also I have been enjoying Doan’s lately, and Strange Fellows. I had a lovely Powell Street Ode to Citra the other day.
What do you think GIB’s strongest position in the craft beer market is?
As a longstanding company that gained its foothold before craft beer exploded in Canada, our role is to introduce less craft-y beer drinkers to an approachable range of flavours and styles. From there, once they hopefully begin to discover the wonderful and open world of craft beer, we can serve as a reliable go-to for quality and also excite and delight with our Small Batch program.
Thanks Kevin, Anything else you’d like to add?
Follow me on instagram @kevinemmsdrums for regular pictures and updates about the fun stuff I am experimenting with!