Straight to the Pint taps those on the frontlines of our booming local craft-beer industry for stories about their biggest brewing successes, dream vacation spots, and which brand was always in the family fridge.
Who are you
My name is Graham With, and I am the head brewer at Parallel 49 Brewing. I manage recipe development, brewing operations, quality control, and engineering projects.
Your dad’s favourite beer
My dad’s favourite beer has changed over the years. When I was little, I remember him having Old Style Pilsners in the fridge. My brothers and I would fight over who got to get him one. We used to open it before bringing it to him and steal sips. That lasted until the time where my brothers and I drank about half the beer by the time it got to him. His tastes have matured over the years, and now his go-to beer is Czechvar, also known as Budvar in Europe.
First go-to brand
When I was finally old enough to go for beers in a pub or purchase them from a liquor store, I was usually ordering stuff from the Sleeman lineup. I remember the Silver Creek Lager and the Cream Ale being the two that I would regularly order. They were flavourful enough and were great on a hot day. I’d bring a few to the skateboard park, and usually after two beers, you’d cut your nerves and would gain the confidence to do something gnarly. Any more than that and you’d start to lose coordination. I have great memories at the Whistler bowl with a few of those in the creek beside it cooling down.
The beer that opened my eyes the most to the world of craft beer was Hop Head IPA by Tree Brewing. I remember being blown away by the huge aroma of citrus hops that I hadn’t experienced before. It was my go-to six-pack for quite a while. After I had that beer, the world of IPAs opened up to me. I started trying all the local B.C. breweries that made IPAs. Now there are so many great IPAs in B.C., and I do feel like that beer influenced the way I brew our hoppy beers.
Dream vacation destination
I’m a big fan of German-style beers, so I would have to go with Munich. There’s so much tradition in German brewing, and they have been doing it for so long that all their beers reflect the hundreds of years of perfecting their recipes. I also really enjoy drinking a litre of beer out of a stein and cheers-ing my friends. Beers, bratwursts, and dirndls… It sounds like a fantastic place. I don’t know how long I could stay there, though. I can’t go too long without having a West Coast hoppy beer.
First beer brewed
The first beer I ever home-brewed on my own was a recipe from Dan’s Homebrewing in East Vancouver. It was the Strathcona Pale Ale, and almost everyone I know who started home-brewing at Dan’s brewed that beer first. It turned out great, and I had brewed it numerous times throughout my home-brewing career. When Dan passed away a few years back, I had the honour of being able to brew 1,500 litres of it with the crew from Dan’s at Parallel 49 as a memorial beer. Without that beer, I might be working as a wastewater engineer somewhere.
Probably my favourite beer that we’ve done is the VCBW collaboration beer a few years back. I had the opportunity to pick a main collaborator for Vancouver Craft Beer Week and chose James Walton from Storm Brewing. Storm has now been around for over 20 years in Vancouver, and the Black Plague Stout was an influential beer for me in Vancouver. I stopped by Storm to discuss what beer we should brew, and James was low on ideas. I saw a recipe scribbled on a dirty piece of paper on his wall for his “Red Sky” Altbier, which he hasn’t brewed in many years. It was also the first beer he ever brewed when Storm opened. Very little information was on the recipe, so it took a lot of digging to decipher what malts he was using. Finally, on brew day we had brewers all across B.C. come by and help brew the beer. It turned out great, and it was awesome to have so many brewers come by our brewery. Also, it was fantastic to brew an ode to one of the first craft breweries in Vancouver.
I’d love to have a beer with
James Walton—Storm Brewing; Iain Hill—Strange Fellows Brewing; Gary Lohin—Red Racer/Central City Brewers + Distillers.