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/ A P R I L 2014 / T H E O V E R C A S T


Liam McKenna’s beer is so good, Guinness once paid Irish pub owners money not to stock it. Internationally acclaimed brewmaster Liam McKenna has been brewing YellowBelly’s finely crafted beer since the brewery opened its doors. He’s been dubbed “the great polemicist of the

It is a true story. Low interest and no interest

brewing seemed to pull it into a focus. I found

antifoam in a fermenter allow the addition

loans were offered in exchange for exclusivity

brewing to be a very good mixture of art and

of more volume to a given fermentor, or

of certain brands on tap. Inducements are

science. The microbrewing scene was just

exogenous enzymes in the brewhouse speed

common in the large brewing world and are

getting started and after a few work terms

up and enhance the process by supplementing

becoming disturbingly more common in the

at various breweries, I decided to pursue the

the natural malt enzymes). 2.) To make the

small brewing scene as things become more

small brewery route as opposed to industrial

product more shelf stable – chelating agents

competitive for shelf and tap space. It is

brewing. Small brewing has offered the kind

and antioxidants (ascorbic acid – vitamin C – is

completely illegal in most of the world.

of control and influence over the process and

the most popular antioxidant). Antioxidants can

the products that would be totally unavailable

be necessary in pasteurized beer to present

craft brewing movement” by The Irish Times, and remains passionate about his profession, some twenty-five years into his impressive career in craft beer. McKenna’s awards include medals at the World Beer Championships, the Stockholm Beer Festival, and the Brewing Industry International Awards. Acclaimed beverage writer Billy Munnelly has called him

What’s the secret of a truly great beer? Balance and drinkability are key. Freshness is also tremendously important. To brewers, beer is kind of “liquid bread.” I would not buy bread from Germany or Mexico, Why would I buy beer from there? It doesn’t travel well. I

to me in an industrial scene. YellowBelly prides itself on not adding stabilizers, preservatives, hop extracts, enzymes, and other junk to its beer. Why do other breweries add these things to

also don’t make “bread” that people only want

their beers, and why is your beer better

half a slice of.

for not adding them?

consumers with a palatable beverage. 3.) To make the product faster and cheaper. Beer is often artificially “aged.” 4.) To enhance product presentation (clouding agents, for that perfect cloudy look). These are but a few examples. A couple of others I might mention would be the animal sourced finings gelatin and isinglass. Many small brewers use these things to help clarify their beer by enhanced settling. They are

Better is a subjective term. Different? Twenty-five years is a long run for a

pretty essential in cask beer. I don’t use them.

Definitely. I can get quite philosophical about

I am not a vegetarian or a vegan but if I was, I

brewmaster, where’d you get started?

this question so please be patient. There

would want to know if these things were in my

I was a home brewer while studying

is a point or two. Most beer additives are

beer. As an aside, they are heavily preserved

good that Guinness paid pub owners

applied microbiology in university (Guelph).

designed to do one of a few things: 1.) To

with sulfites which can easily piggy back into

not to stock it. True story?

I struggled with schooling until beer and

utilize equipment more efficiently (things like

the beer when used according to instructions.

“Canada’s Best Brewmaster.” Rumour has it, the beer you made in Dublin, between 1996 and 2000, was so


YellowBelly Beer: Fresh, Fabulous, & Finely Crafted

The Overcast - Issue 3 (April 2014)  
The Overcast - Issue 3 (April 2014)