January 15, 2019
Calgary’s economy has created some unique challenges over the last few years. While jobs in the oil and gas industry in particular have been vanishing, it’s forced many families to get creative.
When Carrie Korithoski’s husband Mike was forced to relocate to Houston to work, the two began re-thinking their situation.
“We were trying to think of something we could do together back here in Canada, and with the recession, it’s been hard. But what do people do in a recession? They still drink. Mike grew up in a small town and his parents ran the bar there. He’s always wanted to do something like this.”
“This” is OT Brewing. Korithoski started brewery here in Calgary about three years ago, and has been building it ever since.
“We decided to do a sports theme. We didn’t want to be a typical brewery, which—and I hope people don’t take this the wrong way—we saw as plaid shirts and beards and lots of wood,” jokes Korithoski, “We wanted to be completely different; a place people could come in and enjoy our beer and enjoy the game.”
OT Brewing makes three beers that are now available at Co-op Wine Spirits Beer; Five Hundie IPA, Flagstick Pale Ale, and Ardi, a coffee beer.
“Our Five Hundie IPA (named for a 500 CC dirt bike) is medium bodied and off dry, with a nice soft creamy mouth feel,” says head brewer Blake Enemark. “I get a lot of fuzzy peach and cotton candy. It’s pretty sessionable for an IPA. Our Flagstick Pale Ale is a lighter bodied beer, and the main hop is Simcoe, so I get a lot of ripe pineapple and spruce from it. The Ardi coffee beer is a blonde ale. We brewed a very neutral beer then dosed it with a lot of coffee after fermentation. Ardi is the type of coffee bean; it’s Ethopian. That bean is quite peachy, but in the beer, it’s like tasting a Coffee Crisp or Tiramisu.”
So how did a drilling engineer, and a former preschool teacher end up in the beer business? They wanted to make the kind of beer they felt was lacking in Calgary’s growing craft beer market.
“We found a lot of the beers hoppy, and very crafty, if you know what I mean. We wanted beer that was easier to drink, so my husband went out and bought me a homebrewing kit called The Grainfather, and I stated making my own beer in the basement.”
A self-described “research geek” Korithoski started reading everything she could get her hands on about making beer, and her initial experiments grew more complex.
“I dove in head first and three years later, here we are. It just blows my mind that you can do so much with just four ingredients.”
Korithoski says what sets OT Brewing’s beers apart is that they’re really easy drinking; for the beer drinker that wants to support local, but who may prefer a slightly more traditional, sessionable beer, that’s not too hoppy.
“It’s the kind of beer you can really enjoy, and you can sit down and have one or two without destroying your palate. We hear all the time, ‘I don’t drink craft beer because it’s too bitter or too hoppy,’ and we always encourage people to just try ours. We make very down to earth beer.”
OT Brewing beer is available at Co-op Wine Spirits Beer.
It’s not unusual for home brewing to become a gateway into owning and operating a brewery.
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