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Food + Drink

Fernie Brewing Company Takes Over the Taps at National Beerhall

For the months of January through March, National Beerhall is partnering with Fernie Brewing Co. to bring Calgary an extended “Tap Takeover” at all four National locations. We sat down with Fernie Brewing Co.’s head brewer, Jeff Demaniuk, to talk music, career paths, and of course, beer.

What is your personal favourite Fernie Brewing Co. beer?
It’s tough to pick one, but I’d probably say our Saison which comes out every spring. I also really enjoyed the Professor Marzen that we brewed in the fall as a tribute to my dad.

What do you like to do when you’re not brewing beer?
Skiing, hockey, reading. Right now, it’s spending time with my 5-month-old daughter!

Is there a current trend in craft beer that you hope sticks?
I’d like to see more lagers in the future. I’m a big fan of German-style beers and I’d like to see more doppelbocks and marzens. There are some really interesting sours coming out these days as well.

You wore a few different hats in the Calgary craft brewery scene before joining the FBC team. How does brewing beer in a small mountain town compare to brewing in a bigger city?
Commute is 5 minutes versus 50 minutes! I think everyone in Fernie knows at least one person who works at the brewery. It’s a great town and we have such incredible support from the community.

What is your favourite music to blast while crushing beers after a long week at work?
Usually ’90s punk rock (Strung Out, NOFX, Bouncing Souls). A couple of the boys at the brewery have got me listening to more metal, and, being from Strathmore, I still get the urge to pop in a little Garth Brooks or Alabama from time to time.

We heard you used to be a teacher. What was your favourite subject to teach and why?
I was never a full-time teacher. I graduated with a BSc and a BEd, with the idea of becoming a high school science teacher. I only ever worked as a student teacher and really enjoyed it. That said, I’m glad that I went with brewing as my career!

What is the best part of your job?
Probably seeing a recipe come from the idea stage to the serving stage and seeing people enjoying your creation. I also work with an amazing team who make it fun to come to work every day.

For the poor souls who haven’t had any FBC beers yet, what do you recommend they try first at one of the National locations?
I guess it depends on what you’re into. Right now, I’d say Java the Hut Coffee Milk Stout. It’s rich, creamy and loaded with Crowsnest Coffee from the nicest people you’ll ever meet. But, if you’re lactose intolerant or not a coffee drinker, I’d suggest starting with a clean, crisp Project 9 Pilsner.

To try out Jeff’s recommendations yourself, head to any National location before the end of March and order up a pint! And while you’re at it, ask your server for details on how to win a trip for two to Fernie to brew with the FBC team.;