KPU brewing graduates win bronze at the 2024 Canadian Brewing Awards

Wed, May 29, 2024

A student-crafted beer earned Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) Brewing and Brewery Operations program its second trophy in the 2024 Canadian Brewing Awards.

Competing against professional brewers from across Canada, the KPU student signature series beer Xocolatl won bronze in the Flavoured Stout/Porter category.

"It’s very rewarding to see that a student capstone project beer is winning an award at the national level," says Dominic Bernard, instructor and program chair. "We are delighted to see KPU alumni continue to succeed, innovate and win awards in the brewing industry." 

Alejandro Paz and Tim Tung created Xocolatl as their signature beer in the final term of the two-year Brewing and Brewery Operations Diploma program.

Xocolatl is a milk stout with a bittersweet flavour and notes of chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon spice. The subtle heat from red chilies complements these flavours, evoking the unique taste of spiced Mexican hot chocolate. 

Tim Tung (left) and Alejandro Paz (right) who created Xocolatl. 

"Our recipe was inspired by a mix of tastes and memories from my hometown in Guatemala, which has a significant Mexican influence," says Paz. "My brewing partner, Tim, is drawn to beers that tell a story and stand out, so he was ready for the challenge of creating a chocolate milk stout with cinnamon, vanilla and red chilies," says Paz.

In Mayan culture, "Xocolatl" or "bitter water," was believed to be the drink of the gods. This rich beverage, prepared with roasted cacao seeds, chilies, water and cornmeal, would become thick and foamy when poured between pots.

During their studies, Paz and Tung gained experience working in local breweries in Langley and Port Moody. After graduating in 2023, Paz joined Camp Beer Co. and then Trading Post Brewing as a technician with a focus on brewing and quality assurance, while Tung became a full-time brewer at Yellow Dog Brewing.

"The instructors and peers I've met at KPU have been hugely influential. The experience of making beer and learning how to improve it has been the most valuable thing to me," says Tung.

CBA 2024 KPU Brew - Michael Miller - Dominic Bernard - Alek Egi
KPU brewing instructors from left to right: Michael Miller, Dominic Bernard and Alek Egi.

The KPU brewing program continues to make its mark on the beer industry, with several alumni winning awards in the 2024 competition. Among them is Adam Keil, a KPU graduate and co-founder of Mountainview Brewing in Hope, B.C., who claimed gold in the Flavoured Stout/Porter category for their Black Forest Stout.

"We are incredibly proud to see our graduates being recognized by the industry in the oldest and largest national competition in Canada," says Alek Egi, brewing instructor at KPU, who accepted the trophy for Xocolatl at the Canadian Brewing Awards in Hamilton, Ont. on May 25. "Our program equips students with the tools and knowledge to build a solid foundation for their brewing careers and achieve great success in the industry."

Xocolatl milk stout will be available for purchase later this summer at the KPU Brew Lab, which is open for sales every Friday from 1 to 6 p.m. It is located at KPU Langley, 20901 Langley Bypass.

The Brew Lab will be hosting a Let's Talk Brewing event on May 31 from 12 to 2 p.m. in celebration of Canadian Homebrew Day, and Brewing Discovery Day on July 9 from 5 to 8 p.m., where participants can learn more about the brewing process and studying at KPU.