Tucked away near Mt. Sima Road is a nondescript warehouse, easy to miss. But inside is another type of operation — a flavourful one, one involving a litany of craft beer.
Deep Dark Wood Brewing Company took over the space about a year ago. It’s a one-man show, owned and operated by Matt Waugh, formerly the head brewer at Winterlong Brewing, a short walk away from his relatively new venture.
“It was always my dream to start my own brewery, and make the beers I wanted to make,” he said.
He’s carved his niche for himself, specializing in sours and “funky, fruity beers.”
While he doesn’t have a flagship brew, the most popular is called “Pixie,” a golden sour ale.
“Mixed fermentation is the best way to describe them. I don’t strictly use normal brewers yeast. I use bacteria and other wild yeast,” Waugh said.
He sources his hops from the Pacific Northwest — Oregon, Washington, British Columbia; the grain comes from a family-run business in Alberta; and his yeast from a lab in Guelph, Ont.
The beer is fermented in eight oak barrels.
“There’s a flavour contribution from the wood. I actually mash my beer in a wooden barrel. It was part economy, but it also minimized the contact of the stainless (steel) with the beer,” he said.
His space is small: about 800 sq. ft. Stacked in the front of the shop are towering boxes, packed to the gills with beer.
The reception in Whitehorse has been solid, he said. Whitehorse is a place in which people tend to care about supporting local artisanal products. The Yukon Beer Festival, slated for October, has given the industry a boost, he said. Waugh’s beers will be on display there, his first festival.
“People are still finding out about me, I think. I feel a bit invisible over here,” he said, noting the somewhat afield location.
Being close to Winterlong is a perk, however, he said.
Winterlong co-owner Meghan Marjanovic said she often shepherds people to Deep Dark Wood.
“We get a lot of tourists here and we’re kind of the bigger brewery with a kind of pub going on, so we always make sure to send people that way, too,” she said.
“(Waugh) was our first employee and we always kind of knew he would want to do his own brewery,” Marjanovic added.
Waugh’s brew is carried in some local shops, including Big Bear Donair and Takhini Gas, and Yukon government liquor stores in both Whitehorse and Dawson City.
The beer is also stocked at Corked, in Horwoods Mall.
“It fits with our interests here,” said Liam White, a purveyor at the store. “We look for things that are a little bit more different than normal,” adding that Waugh’s product is selling well.
“Craft beer isn’t niche anymore. It’s not something that only bearded men are drinking at breweries. It’s a lot more popular, so it’s kind of cool when tourists come up here and see a comparable product from a northern town,” White said.
Waugh has a new crop of beer coming out next month, including two variations of Pixie, Creeper (a farmhouse IPA) and a rhubarb saison.
The latter, he said, was crowdsourced.
“I put the word out back in May or June looking for rhubarb and the people came through, in spades,” Waugh said, noting that almost 85 lbs were packed into a single barrel.
Waugh will be selling his latest creations on Sept. 8 at the brewery (2A Collins Lane) between noon and 6 p.m.
Contact Julien Gignac at firstname.lastname@example.org