Straight to the Pint: Brewmaster Peter Schulz of Steel & Oak Brewing Co.

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      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

      I am Peter Schulz, brewmaster for Steel & Oak Brewing Co.

      Your dad’s favourite beer

      Although my father was born in Germany and lived there until he was six, the only beer memories he has are going to the local pub and filling a siphon (growler) for my opa. Since then, he has fallen in love with strong dark ales with a prevailing bitterness to match. His favourite beer is McEwan’s Scotch Ale.

      First go-to brand

      My go-to beer in high school was definitely Sleeman Honey Brown Lager or Okanagan Spring 1516. When I had just moved to Germany and started my apprenticeship, one of my classmates worked at Brauerei Zehendner. It was a small brewery in the outskirts of Bamberg and we would go out there on the weekend to have a brew or two. Their Hefeweizen was beyond this world. The esters! I remember, after having it for the first time, wishing that I would one day be able to create a brew that delectable. Currently, I would say Four Winds and Dageraad are definitely my fallbacks for good-quality local beer.

      Life-changing beer

      It was definitely Orval. I had it for the first time with a brewmaster I know in Germany. He had a case in his garage. I was immediately intrigued by the simple label and bottle shape. He explained to me that it was one of the oldest breweries in the world and that it had a culture all its own. After the third bottle he explained that each batch doesn’t necessarily taste the same as the last, because of the different fermentation techniques and yeast propagation they use. When I asked why anyone would do that, he answered, “So you will have another bottle to see if I’m telling the truth.”

      Dream destination

      Too many to count. I have definitely done Europe, otherwise that would be my first choice. Presently, I would say Chile near the Andes. One, to hike the mountains and swim in the southern Pacific, and two, to see an old friend with a brewery south of Santiago. I always promised I would come by one day.

      First beer brewed

      The very first brew I designed and brewed was a Munich lager. To be honest, it didn’t turn out as I hoped. This was after returning from Germany when I was 19 years old. In Germany I was surrounded by crisp smooth lagers that were balanced and full-bodied. My lager didn’t quite fit that description. However, in my second year of university in Berlin, I started dating a girl who didn’t think too much of beer. I brewed that same Munich lager with slightly adjusted recipe and greatly adjusted techniques. It was one of the best brews I ever created, with a hint of caramel sweetness and well-balanced body. She must have liked it, because she now lives with me in East Van!

      Crowning achievement

      First thing that comes to mind is my brewing degree, but really it was learning German when I started my apprenticeship at Weyermann Malt. They are located in Bamberg, which is in the northern part of Bavaria. The region is called Franconia (Franken in German). They have a very strong dialect, which I later realized was not understood very well in the rest of Germany. When I moved to Berlin I was forced to learn High German.

      I would love to have a beer with

      I would love to have a beer with a monk from the 11th century. It was around this time they invented bock beer. I would love to hear what they would have to say about the brew they produced back then and to have an understanding of what beer used to mean to people from that time. That is also never going to happen, so I would say Christian Von Der Heide, CEO for Newlands Systems. He has been in the industry for over 20 years and has been one of my greatest mentors. He was the first person who sat me down and explained how complicated and magnificent a beer could be.

      Amanda Siebert