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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Meet Daniel Girard: Garrison's Brew Master

Meet Daniel Girard, the award winning Brew Master with the Garrison Brewing Company.

Girard has been in the game for a number of years and brewed many award winning beers here in Canada. In 2005, while at Pump House, Girard's recipes paved the way for the brewery to be named the 'Canadian Brewery of the Year' at the Canadian Brewing Awards and years later Girard would go on to brew the 2008 Canadian Beer of the Year with Garrison.

When Cass Enright and I headed to Halifax to meet with Garrison owner Brian Titus, I was looking forward to finally meeting Girard for the first time after hearing so much about him from Titus. Unfortunately Girard was gone on vacation and the meeting did not happen. This is the next best thing.

How many years have you worked in the industry?
About 11 years. 2.5 years in Japan, 1 year in Germany and over 7 years in the Maritimes.

How did you get into brewing beer?
After a major in East-Asian Studies, I moved to Japan where I worked for about 4 years. I began working for a supplier of brewing equipment. Half of the customers I dealt with were Brewmasters (many who were German, some were Japanese and others were North-American) working in brewpubs, micro or large-scale breweries. At some point of my stay, I had to re-evaluate whether I would come back to Canada or keep on making a living in Japan. I decided I wanted to go back to Canada. I began by working as a brewer and translator in a medium size brewery (in Japan) for a few months then I left Japan for Germany where I started the brewmaster course in Berlin by the VLB (Institute of Brewing and Malting in Berlin). Once I graduated, I came back to Canada and found employment in the Maritimes.

Where were you before Garrison?
The Pump House Brewery in Moncton, NB. I worked there as brewmaster from July 2001 to June 2007. I was responsible of all aspects of the production during those six years. I had been deeply involved in the expansion of the new packaging plant. It has been a good working experience. Moncton is where I started to experiment in developing new products and processes (R&D) and gain expertise with food and beer pairing.

How long have you been brewing with Garrison?
I have been working here more than a year now. I started in March of 2008.

What is your best selling beer?
Irish Red Ale - our first & still our strongest.

What is it like brewing crazy beers on the East Coast?
It's great! I really enjoy being able to produce them. It seems that people on the East Coast crave the extremes. It might not have always been that way, but it certainly is right now. It's very exciting. The sky is the limit.

Which provinces currently sell Garrison products?
All our core brands (Raspberry Wheat, Tall Ship Amber, Irish Red, Nut Brown and of course, Imperial Pale Ale) are sold over Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We've also started shipping seasonals as well, such as Grand Baltic Porter, Sugar Moon Maple and this summers' Hopyard Pale Ale.

As many people know, some of our products will soon be available in Ontario thanks to Cass Enright of The Bar Towel.

Tell us something about yourself that not a lot of people know about.
Before I started working at Garrison, I tried to start my own little brewpub. I lacked of time and money to get going, but the exercise of putting the numbers together with the business plan opened my eyes and I understood the brewing business better. I believe it made me a better employee since I am more aware of the business aspect.

How successful have the seasonals been for Garrison?
Very successful. Most of them were sold out in a heartbeat. It is great to be able to make products that become popular while pushing boundaries because of the high alcohol contents or the use of special ingredients. It seems the customers ask for more.

What's your favorite beer style?
Hard to say. I like diversity; as long as the beer is flavourful.

What is your ideal food and beer pairing?
I have to bring up more than one pairing: Baltic Porter and stout with chocolate cake, German or Belgian style wheat ale with salad and vinaigrette, West Coast pale ale (should I rather say East Coast?) and India Pale Ale with Mexican, Thai or Cajun dish, and finally, a nice Barley Wine with foie gras.

Pick one Garrison beer to drink forever.
I must go with the … ImPA (Imperial Pale Ale).

What has been the highlight of your brewing career?
Actually there have been two: one is the Canadian Brewery of the Year 2005 when I was in Moncton (I am very thankful to both assistants at the time, Qian Zhang, who still works with me, and Glen Kervin). The achievement, the media coverage and the customers' response that followed was simply phenomenal; the other one was my joining Garrison in March of last year. I am appreciated for my hard work and respected for my expertise; my career is not all about money.

Best time for a pint?
With a meal after a long and hard day of work.


Anonymous said...

Here's another interesting article

Alex C. said...

How long does it take, & what post-secondary education is required to become a master brewer?

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