Ever try a beer made from potatoes? Neither have we! That’s why we wanted to interview a craft brewer who’s made suds from spuds. Andrew Sookram is founder of Sookram’s Brewing Co. in Winnipeg, Man., which serves Winnipeggers modern craft beer at its family-friendly taproom and brewery. He’ll talk during the Canadian Spud Congress on March 22 as part of the Brewing and Distilling with Spuds session at 3:30 p.m. CDT. We interviewed Sookram via Zoom to find out what he’s going to tell you about making beer from potatoes.

Spud Smart (SS): When did you open your brewery and why did you want to be a craft brewer? Andrew Sookram

Andrew Sookram (AS): We started up in 2019. I began brewing at home as a hobby
about a decade ago and loved it. Originally, it was a way to save money and I just really fell in love with the process of brewing. I was fascinated by everything about it, and what you could get out of it. I sent my home-brewed beer off to competitions just to get feedback and I started winning some medals. So, I thought, “Well, this is this is what I to do for a living.” At the time I was working a nine-to-five job. I thought, “If I’m going to do it, I have to have to do it now.” So, I was driven to start my own business. It was a couple years making the plan and took a year to execute.

SS: What can we expect to hear during your session?

AS: I’m going to talk about my experience making a potato beer we called Tony Starch Potato Pale Ale. This was a small test batch we made in 2021. We used about 10 pounds of potatoes in the recipe. It was delicious and customers were extremely happy with it.

SS: What do you want people to take away from your experience using potato in beer?

AS: That potatoes are really versatile and can be handy for beer production. There’s some fascinating history behind using potatoes in beer. During the Second World War, breweries couldn’t access as much barley because a lot of it was being used to feed cattle. So, they used rice or corn as an adjunct in their beer to make up for the lack of barley. When those weren’t available, they used potatoes. Potatoes are another food product we can extract sugar from in order to make alcohol.

SS: What is your favourite part about being in the craft beer industry?

AS: I’m just fascinated by the whole process of fermentation, and what affects flavour and alcohol content. Beer is just water, barley, hops and yeast. Really, those are the basic four ingredients; but there’s a ton of combinations and different variables that allow you to do an infinite number of things and make some really great products.

To watch this session live register for the Canadian Spud Congress for free.

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