Aspiring Penticton craft brewer following his passion for beer

Rebel with a beer cause

"Okanagan Inspired" is a weekly series of profiles offering a peek into the stories and inspirations of South Okanagan residents who hold creative roles in the community.

Having spent most of his life in Penticton, aspiring craft beer brewer Tj Paisley is looking to continue spreading his roots here, while doing what he loves most.

Only living in Victoria for a brief period, "lollygagging and being a surf bum," he took many trips to Tofino and worked odd jobs to fund his passion for surfing. He now spends his time back and forth from the Lower Mainland, taking the brewery program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“Everything is so nice in Penticton,” explains Paisley.

“The summer weather is beautiful, but we also have the ski hill not too far away for the winter. And more recently, there have been a lot of craft breweries open, which is definitely my vibe. I grew up on a vineyard so getting into brewing is kind of my rebellion against the family,” he adds, laughing.

Paisley got his initial passion for craft beer after trying some unique BC craft beer and falling in love.

“I was in Kelowna, I’ll never forget. I was in my second year of school and went and bought some beer and I bought beer that was a bit fancier than what I usually drink. I thought it would be fun to be a bit bougie,” Paisley says.

“I got the Salty Scot Scotch Ale from Parallel 49 and I loved it, I just thought it was the best beer."

From there Paisley began experimenting, trying new brews and creating his own.

“My first homebrew kit I got was from Value Village. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have trusted that but it still made a nice light Belgian beer,” he says laughing.

Paisley joined Highway 97 Brewing Company to expand his knowledge of craft beer.

“I had been working for Save On Foods in the wine section and thought that winemaking was maybe something I would like to try, but I had my rebellious phase, joined Highway 97 and fell in love with the environment and beer,” says Paisley.

While working behind the bar, Paisley developed an interest for the production side.

“I spent as much time on the brewery floor as I could. I loved the creativity on the floor and not just being stuck in the tap room. I looked online ‘how to become a brewer’ and the first information that popped up was for the Kwantlen course, and it seemed like a good fit,” explains Paisley.

Paisley only has one more course to go until he finishes his diploma, but has found a new home at Cannery Brewing in the meantime.

“I’ve been there for a couple of months now and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve really come to realize how much labour goes into brewing and I have a huge appreciation for that. I really enjoy making beer, and the fun that goes into drinking it later, and being able to make really nice beers for other people to enjoy. I like the fine tuning, there is a lot to brewing!” says Paisley.

Joining Cannery was a dream for Paisley.

“I always thought the coolest place to work would be Cannery. I looked into it after school, and I’m thankful Ross Thompson, the head brewer, was super stoked to get me on board!” says Paisley.

Although having a fondness for Cannery, Paisley has a love for the community as a whole.

“I love the Penticton beer scene. There’s so much variety and the community is so nice. Everyone is always helping each other out, bringing each other beers or going out for beers. It’s great to be a part of it,” Paisley says.

Some of Paisley’s favourite beers are Penticton classics.

“The Peach Cream Ale from Tin Whistle was such a classic, but my favourite beer is probably the Okanagan Daze from Cannery. It is made with a mix of Pinot Gris, and growing up on a vineyard I really connect to it. It’s pretty essential to the Okanagan experience for sure, and it’s pretty crushable, ” explains Paisley.

Although he hasn’t been given an opportunity to create his own recipes yet, Paisley has all kinds of ideas.

“I love the creativity of it. I really enjoy more traditional beers, but a fruity beer or a Cryo Hop IPA, or a double dry hopped lager are also really cool. Cannery is talking about bringing back the Battle of the Brewers, so hopefully then!” says Paisley.

For anyone looking to get into brewing, Paisley suggests, “pick up a home brew kit and start experimenting! Try different beer styles and see what you like. My dream is being able to create beer that people will love, and creating my own recipes people will enjoy, and you just have to keep practicing!”

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