This September Castlegar will be an integral part of the Kootenay Beer Week festivities in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. From September 9-16 there will be a number of different activities happening in such communities as Rossland, Nelson, Salmo, and Kaslo but the Tailout Brewery in Castlegar will kick them all off with a “Summer Send Off” night at which attendees will have the chance to win a car!

Here is a list of events happening from September 9-16:

There will be a lot of beer tasting going on during the Kootenay Beer Festival event and so we reached out to an expert to learn how best to enjoy the brews on offer. Mary Lusty is the brewer at Tailout Brewing as well as an owner along with her partner Hedin Nelson-Chorney. (She is the one in the centre of the photo below along with the owners of Angry Hen Brewing in Kaslo.) She has a Master Certificate in Brewer’s Science from Bishop University in Quebec and she moved to Castlegar with Heiden five years ago so they could open their own craft brewery in a city that had yet to establish one. They also moved here because they enjoy mountain biking and skiing but most especially fishing. They love Castlegar’s proximity to the Columbia River and Arrow Lakes and their passion for angling is also the reason they called the business Tailout, which refers to a part of a river where water leaves a pool and provides calm and predictable current that fish prefer to hang out in.

Mary says the first step to appreciating a craft beer is to understand the base ingredients. “There are four main ingredients in every beer and they include water, hops, barley, and yeast,” she explains. “And there are two main styles of beer: lager and ale. The difference between the two relates to the yeast used in brewing. Lagers are a good introductory beer because they’re crisp, clean, and easy to drink. Ales have a huge range in taste, though. They include stouts to super-hoppy IPAs to sours.”


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Once you have a grasp of the foundations of beer, the next step is to understand how different steps in the brewing process change the outcome of the brew. Here is a simplified overview of the brewing process as explained by Mary:

  1. Roast the grains at different temperatures and for different lengths of time to obtain the various flavours you’re looking for.
  2. Crush the grains in a mill to get the right size and extract the sugars out of it.
  3. Mix that grain in hot water in a machine called a mash tun. “It’s the big silver vat you can see at our brewery,” Mary says.
  4. Pasteurize the mixture in a Boil Kettle, which is another huge vat lined with steam jackets.
  5. Add hops to the vat. “Adding them at the beginning of the process gets you something more bitter,” Mary says. “Adding them later gets you something more like a hazy IPA.
  6. Move the mixture to a fermenter, which is the vat with a conical bottom, and add the yeast. “There are a number of different types of yeast that give the beer different flavours,” Mary explains. The brew sits in the fermenter for two weeks.
  7. The last stage of the brewing process involves moving the mixture to a Brite Tank where the liquid is cleared and carbonation is added.
  8. Finally the beer is canned. “We have a mobile canner that comes and does it for us,” Mary says. “It saves us a lot of room.”
Tailout Brewing in Castlegar

Mary says other steps are added depending on the brew being made, such as including bacteria in the process to create sours or juice to make fruitier beers.

When it comes time to tasting the beer, Mary recommends starting with a light brew and then work your way towards darker ones, saving the hoppy brews, the sours, and the fruity ones for the end.

For more about beer tasting and the brewing process, attend the Kootenay Beer Week festivities September 9-16 and most especially go to Tailout’s Summer Send Off party because you’ll have a chance to meet Mary in person and, oh, did we mention you could win a car, too?