This writer cannot blame Category 12 Brewing for being left behind by the tour bus during the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s Tour of Industry recently — but the crowds there could be at least somewhat at fault.
The final stop on the tour was to the first craft brewery on the Saanich Peninsula — and they were handing out samples.
Category 12 Brewing opened December 19 on Keating X Road in Central Saanich. They started brewing in mid-November to meet that deadline.
The brainchild of owners Michael and Karen Kuzyk, the brewery has joined the burgeoning craft beer market in Greater Victoria. Already, their entries into the market are being noticed.
Jeff Kendrew, the third partner at Category 12, says they have been busy brewing and trying to keep up with demand as customers discover a new player. Keeping up and ensuring pubs and stores get what they need is always a challenge for a new brewery, he said.
Even with a November brewing start date, Michael said they ran out of stock in their first batch quite quickly.
“Beer geeks knew we existed,” he explained. “Now, we’re doing a lot of awareness-building right now.”
Category 12 brands itself with science. Michael has a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Victoria and is putting that training to good use.
“We have been brewing small batches as a way of experimentation,” he said. “Then we ramp it up on the computer, once we have the recipe down, for large-scale brewing.”
His biochemistry education is serving him well, Michael said of the transition into brewing beer. Getting the engines in their Keating X Road facility up to the right speed is one of the steps similar to science — as is using municipal water in the mix.
“It’s a blank canvas,” he explained, adding he can add specific traits into the water to achieve different outcomes.
It’s all blended in steel vats that were manufactured in Central Saanich.
Michael said he’s typically working on a batch between 14 and 16 hours a day. Category 12 recently hired an assistant brewer, so the workload can be spread around.
Category 12 Brewing chose Central Saanich to locate for a variety of reasons. First, said Michael, they aren’t competing in the same general neighbourhood as the Rock Bay micro breweries.
Second, Michael grew up in Central Saanich and was happy to bring his business home.
Category 12 has produced four beers so far: Critical Point Northwest Pale Ale, Unsanctioned Belgian Inspired Saison, Disruption Black IPA and Transmutation Belgian Spec. Ale (the last two are seasonal, with the Spec. Ale ready for March).
Following the tour, Category 12’s tap room filled up with customers and their growlers. After moving outside and peeking into one of their neighbouring businesses, this writer misjudged the time and had to run a few blocks to catch the bus.
Category 12 is not to blame — but it was a good running gag, if you’ll pardon the pun.