Some might call it the perfect patio Pilsener.
The Axe and Barrel Brewing Company crafted a winner with its King Kolsch beer, which earned a silver medal at the 2017 Canadian Brewing Awards. The fact that it’s a favourite of Axe and Barrel brew master Andrew Tessier made the victory a little sweeter at the competition in Ottawa in May.
With the popularity of craft beers and micro-breweries hopping, this year’s event featured more than 15,000 entries, an increase of about 40 per cent from the year before. The competition is open to Canadian majority-owned breweries and cideries of all sizes, with the winning entries in 60 categories determined in a blind taste test by judges selected through the Beer Judge Certification program.
“The King Kolsch is brewed mainly from Pilsener malt with a bright, straw-yellow hue that goes down easy,” said Tessier, the winner of a CBA Brewery of the Year award in 2006 and 31 other brewing awards during his 14-year tenure as brew master at Swan’s Brewery.
Tessier considers the award quite an an accomplishment, considering Victoria’s history with craft brewing. “Only three beers from Victoria won awards this year,” he noted. “It’s nice to get the first of what I hope are many more for the Axe and Barrel.”
Tessier had been brewing a beer similar to the Kolsch for a few years, and originally brought it to the Axe and Barrel’s list as a seasonal beer. “I added a few tweaks to the recipe and brewed a batch that we entered in the competition,” Tessier said. “The second batch flew off the shelves once the award was announced, so we’re brewing another that should be ready for the Canada Day long weekend.”
Tessier started brewing when he was 17 as a hobby before joining a group of older home brewers, and started working in breweries when he was 19.
“Some of us formed a group called the Raging Grainies,” said Tessier, eventually apprenticed under master brewer Rick Dellow. That led to several trips to Chicago, where he took courses at the Siebel Institute to perfect his craft.
Tessier is excited about his latest creation, Hopline Bling, a 4.9 session IPA that was added to the Axe and Barrel recently. “It’s got a lot of really cool elements.”
The Axe and Barrel, owned by Ron and Diana Cheeke, opened last year on the site of the Loghouse Pub following a multi-million renovation and the addition of a brewery.