Brewing newcomer Natasha Peiskar is already developing a well-rounded perspective for her craft. The young brewer from Tool Shed Brewing Company in Calgary was recently partnered with Chris Spasoff, Malt Barley Technical Development Lead with Syngenta Canada as part of the Advancing Agriculture program, sponsored by Alberta Wheat and Alberta Barley. Over the next year, the two will spend time together in fields and meeting farmers to build on Peiskar’s barley knowledge.
“I have been doing cicerone training, which is a sommelier for beer, and you really have to know everything from field to glass,” says Peiskar. “I've been studying through books, but hadn't really gotten any hands-on experience. I thought this would be a really great way to connect with growers, and somebody in the industry to really see things from the field… just really learn and create a better connection between the end users, the brewers, and the farmers and the maltsters.”
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Peiskar’s brewing interest took root about five years as she was finishing up her chemistry degree at Simon Fraser University. “I got into the SF Brew Club, which was more of a beer drinking club than a brewing club. We ended up doing a competition against UBC’s Brew Club and actually won.” Her winning team was paired up with Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers in North Vancouver. “They scaled up our recipe to a 20-hectolitre batch, and I think I was in love with the industry ever since,” she says.
An evolving industry
As a female brewer, Peiskar may be an anomaly in a male-dominated industry, but not at Tool Shed Brewing Company. “There's five of us who are brewers now, and actually four of us are women, so I'd say that's probably one of the most unique things about us,” she says. “Our founders are really passionate about what they do, and they're always out there talking to new people, getting people to try our beer, getting people to come over to the craft side. It's been a lot of fun.”
While Canada’s craft brewing circle is largely male, Peiskar sees it evolving. “Overall, the diversity of the industry is really growing as craft beer is growing,” she says. “It’s just educating the consumer that, yes, you're the person who knows the most about the beer and not just a lady handing out a sample to you.”