/ 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
PHOTO BY JOEL UPSHALL
YellowBelly Beer: Fresh, Fabulous, & Finely Crafted