“You will brew the beer you were born to brew.”
That’s the ambitious promise for customers of True North Brew Supply of Chilliwack.
When owners Calvin and Carol Quaite first opened the shop in 2011 on South Sumas Road, they thought they would just cater to the dozen or so folks who were making their own home brew from scratch.
Today they have the largest retail selection of malts, grains and hops in the province.
It’s fresh grains, and fresh hops from all over the world, including two local hop farms, as well as 70 strains of yeast.
Commercial hop growers in Chilliwack that supply True North include Sartori Cedar Ranch and Chilliwack Hop Farm.
The business started out serving a niche market, but gained a loyal following as their inventory grew, and Quaite’s expertise expanded.
More than 100 home brewers in the Fraser Valley are actively involved the FV Homebrewers’ Club, where they compete monthly to make the tastiest brews in a staggering array of styles.
Quaite is president of the homebrewers’ club this year, and is a formidable foe, having picked up awards for his own tasty suds along the way.
But he underlined that he is consistently thrilled and amazed to discover how delicious some of the locals’ brews are. Many ask him to do a taste test.
“I can tell you there are world-class beers being brewed right across the valley,” he enthused.
Several local breweries have started coming to True North Brew Supply for small batch supplies to test out recipes.
“And it just keeps growing,” explains Quaite. “We’re the only place in the Fraser Valley that offers fresh ingredients.”
It’s basic, but not.
“Beer making hasn’t changed much in four millennia, but it has taken constant innovation to make the beer more consistent,” he said.
They’ve been open for almost four years, shipping supplies and equipment worldwide, but the retail market from a 100-mile radius is very strong, too, Quaite said.
They supply brewing supplies regularly to sections of northern Canada, like the more remote parts of Ontario and Quebec.
So why is craft brewing so popular right now?
It’s a combination of factors.
“It’s people who are concerned about buying local ingredients, about making beer with no preservatives, and maybe even the rise of the hipster movement.”
Many home brewers start by being curious about how to make an excellent craft beer.
“At its core, beer is only barley, hops and water,” he said.
But the real unique aspect of True North is found in the care and attention paid to sourcing high-quality ingredients.
They stay on top of trends, as clients seek out the makings of different beers for different seasons.
“It’s also the information and help that we give people. That has been a big part of growing the home brewing culture. There’s infinite room to learn something new.
There are 1200 beer recipes they share in the store with thousands more online.
He’ll offer brewing demos occasionally, and research the answers to customers’ questions about the best techniques or flavours.
“We can make any beer in the world,” he said.
“If you get the temperatures right and the sanitation mastered, you will always make a drinkable beer.”