Craft brewery Parallel 49 recently celebrated three years in the business, and given the amount of awards and success they’ve seen over those years, it’s fair to say they are here to stay. We spoke with Head Brewmaster Graham With to find out the secret to their success.
Parallel 49 Brewing Company just celebrated three years, what does a milestone like that mean for the brewery?
Graham With: After three years it has started to feel like the brewery has finally sorted out a lot of growing pains and things are starting to run a little smoother. I used to have to come in almost every weekend and now I can relax knowing everything is going well. A lot of employees have now been here for a few years and we’re really feeling like we’ve got our team together.
How have the beers changed in the last three years, what has the company learned and what has evolved?
The beers have definitely been more consistent as we have expanded our quality control program. We have also gained more confidence in using different strains of yeast and souring bacteria in our beer. Some of our beers have changed hops as we have been able to procure hops that weren’t available when we opened.
What sort of impact of the growth of the craft beer industry had on the brewery in the last three years?
The growth of craft beer has been great for the brewery. More and more people are drinking craft beer and becoming more adventurous with the beers they drink. This allows us to sell more beers and more importantly, brew beers that are more experimental and interesting to us.
Parallel 49 offers a lot of unique beer options; what is the process for thinking up and ultimately deciding what goes to market?
It is a combination of weather and flavour. We make beers that we want to drink ourselves and that really depends on the time of year. In the summer, we’ll want to make something a little lighter and refreshing. In the colder months, we’ll usually go for something a little stronger and full flavoured.
For a brand new beer, we’ll look to other foods for inspiration and see if we can brew a beer inspired from those flavours.
Have we reached a saturation point for craft beer, or do you think there’s still room for growth?
I think there is still lots of room for growth. It may be getting a little tougher with a lot of breweries making really great beer but more and more people are drinking craft beer and that’s allowing for more breweries to open. Even restaurants are increasing the number of draught lines to meet consumer demand and allow for more breweries to have their beer on tap.
What advice would you give breweries younger than Parallel 49? What lessons have been learned in three years?
I’d say if the beer you are making doesn’t turn out like you were hoping, just dump it and try again. It’s harder and harder to get a second chance from the consumer with so many breweries. Also, the craft brewing industry is full of friendly people, feel free to contact other breweries on problems you’re having and see if they have dealt with the same issues.
Other than your own beer, what are some of your local favourites right now? What’s been your favourite P49?
I grew up with the guys from Four Winds in Delta and they make some pretty awesome beers. A new favourite of ours is Doan’s Craft Brewery, which is a few blocks away from Parallel 49.
As for a favourite P49 beer, I’ve been liking our Craft Lager these months because of the heat.
Anything experimental on the horizon?
We have quite a few barrels of sour beer hidden away and we are looking to expand that program. We try to do some more experimental stuff to more our tasting room exclusively and see how well it is received.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks to the team at Parallel 49 for the interview, and congratulations on three years and counting!