Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Fri February 19 2016

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  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | February 19, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Yukon Brewery: Sophisticated Beer On Tap in the Wilderness

    Yukon Brewery: Sophisticated Beer On Tap in the Wilderness

    Photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    The craft beer craze has sprouted up in most major cities, but don’t think you’ll be relegated to sipping Heineken when you journey to the isolated wilderness of the Yukon. Although rugged cuisine, like moose meat and caribou burgers reign in this region, you’ll find a sophistication collection of beers at the Yukon Brewery in Whitehorse — billed as “beer worth freezin’ for.” I joined a brewery tour to discover if the brews were indeed worth the frosty trip.

    It became clear as I stepped into Yukon Brewery’s colorful headquarters that this is the place to be for beer in the Yukon. Several locals were scooping up cases of Yukon Gold, one of the bestsellers. Visitors were browsing through the brewery’s merchandise of t-shirts, hoodies and barware and over in a corner, a crowd gathered for the daily brewery tour.

    READ MORE: Which US Airline Offers the Best Beer Menu?

    Taking it all in, from the labels drawn by local artists with names like Midnight Sun, and Ice Fog, to the ingenious Growler system (a 1.9 liter container that locals buy to bring to the brewery for discounted beer refills), it’s like the brewery has created its own beer universe.

    The 45-minute tour features a walk through the facilities, an explanation of the brewing process and a beer tasting for $12 (donated to local charities).  Yukon Beer started in 1997 as a microbrewery with all manual labor and no automation, which is still the case now even though they produce 14,000 bottles a day. The small operation is run by a handful of employees and we’re introduced to everyone as we strolled through the brewery.

    We learned that Yukon Brewery is green conscious, with a 97 percent bottle return rate. They wash and reuse any brown industry bottles. With blues music blasting through the building, we perused stacks of empty bottles waiting to be used. The six-pack rings are also recycled but the cans are all comfortingly new. They also mix their beer with leftover grain from farmers who use it to feed livestock.

    Stacks of beer and ales crowd the facility but the standout was the “Thirst Aid Kit” sampler of four classics — Yukon Red, Yukon Gold, Ice Fog and Bonanza Brown Ale. Luckily, the beer tasting followed the tour so we got to sip many of the beers we saw.

    According to our guide, there should be only four things in beer; water, hops, yeast and malt. Yukon Brewery also follows the Bavarian purity laws of the 1500s, which calls for no preservatives or added chemicals.

    Sitting in the small tasting room with crackers to cleanse our palates, we sampled Chilkoot (a light lager), Dead Man’s Creek (a cranberry wheat ale), Yukon Gold (an English pale ale), Ice Fog (an India pale ale), Midnight Sun (an espresso stout), and Yukon Red, which won “Best Amber Ale in The World,” at the Chicago Beverage Institute Tasting in 2000. The beers were all smooth and nuanced, with different pours.

    READ MORE: 4 Tips For Visiting The Yukon

    Now I understood why I saw fans stocking up. Except for Germany, Yukon Brewery doesn’t export outside of Canada so I suggest and extra suitcase to carry your fave brews if you travel to the Yukon. 

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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