A trip into Whitehorse is not complete until you have done a tour of the Yukon Brewery (or so we were told numerous times). Thus, we went to the brewery for a mandatory tour. We arrived just as the last tour of the day was starting. Talk about excellent timing! The brewery is about the same size as Big Rock was when it first started; and it is just as laid back.
The brewery officially opened its doors in February 1997 and was originally called the Chilkoot Brewing Company Ltd. Two years later they changed their name because they wanted to sell beer to the U.S. market and there were some trademark issues with the name “Chilkoot.” Because of this the brewery adopted the name “Yukon Brewing Company.”
We learned quite a bit about their different brews and partook in a tasting of each variety. For a small company, the brewery has certainly earned their share of awards for their beers. It must be the water they are using, which is very very clean (not surprising given their position on the continent). I rather liked a few of their brands, which says a lot because I am not a huge beer fan.
Here are some of the tour titbits about their different beers:
Chilkoot Lager: This is a lager available only in the Yukon. It is inexpensive to produce and in the production they really tried to eliminate the chemical taste that most lagers have.
Yukon Gold: This was my favourite of the lot. It is light and has a very clean taste. In making this ale they use a mix of four different kinds of malts, which adds a unique almost citrus like flavour. And, you can find Yukon gold in Alberta (and in the Yukon and Ontario, too!).
Arctic Red: This is apparently a favourite amongst northerners and carries the motto: Worth Freezing For. There was almost a caramel after taste — not the typical mouth coating taste that you get from dark ales. The taste is, however, very strong. You can find Arctic Red also in Alberta, Ontario and the Yukon.
Lead Dog Ale: This ale is a traditional dark European Ale and is only produced by the brewery in the winter. Traditionally ales are expensive to produce and take a long time to mature, so it doesn’t make sense to make it year round. You can only find this beer in the Yukon. We were lucky to get to try it out as they were working on their last batch of the season.
Cranberry Wheat Ale: Last but certainly not least is the Cranberry Wheat Ale. Contrary to the name, the cranberry is used in the malting process and not to add a cranberry to the taste of the beer. So, the resulting brew is very bitter, but still good. In terms of timing, this brew is the opposite to the Lead Dog and is primarily a summer ale. Again this is only found in the Yukon.