Brad McQuhae began selling beer when he was 14 years old. It was the start of a long career as a brewmaster and the head of Newlands Systems has donated a brewing system to the new KPU brew program, which is offered in Langley.

Brad McQuhae began selling beer when he was 14 years old. It was the start of a long career as a brewmaster and the head of Newlands Systems has donated a brewing system to the new KPU brew program, which is offered in Langley.

Brewmaster donates equipment to KPU brew program

Students need to learn equipment that mirror what is used in the industry

Last year, Newlands Systems paid it forward in a big way.

North America’s premier brewing equipment manufacturer has worked on hundreds of projects over the past two and a half decades, supplying big brewing companies and small craft brewers alike with the equipment they need to perfect a fine-tasting brew.

One of their latest ventures was to take that state-of-the-art equipment and customize it specifically for instructional purposes, so that the industry’s next generation of brewers, brew pub owners and beer business professionals could hone their craft on the tanks, vessels and controls they’ll work with out in the field.

The Abbotsford-based company headed up by lifelong brewer Brad McQuhae donated a 2 HL Newlands Pilot Brewing System, along with invaluable expertise to Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) new instructional brew lab in Langley, which held it’s official grand opening last month (Sept.16).

“One of the reasons I wanted to get involved with KPU’s brewing and brewery operations program is I’ve always felt education is important, and the industry in North America has lacked the same sort of educational programs found in Europe,” said McQuhae, who explained that having proper, scalable brewing equipment that mirrors what’s found in industry is a key part of a brewing education.

“Simply put: if students train on simple equipment that isn’t industry grade, they won’t learn the knowledge they need to be employed,” he said.

McQuhae has a spent a lifetime collecting that knowledge.

“I originally started home brewing when I was 14. I put the beer in champagne bottles but didn’t drink it — it tasted horrible. But I was a bit of an entrepreneur, so I sold some of what I’d made to the older kids at 50 cents a bottle,” he said.

“Years went by and I continued to brew, somewhat more successfully. I eventually found myself studying biochemistry and microbiology in Victoria, and it turns out that I was learning excellent skills for improving my understanding of brewing.”

Coupling a background in science with hands-on trade knowledge is part of what’s led to McQuhae’s 25 successful years in the industry, where his clients with Newlands include Molson, Labatt, Central City Brewing, Steamworks, Brooklyn Brewing, Boston Beer Company and Miller Coors Brewing, to name seven out of hundreds.

If there is another ingredient that’s led to his success, it’s passion — something McQuhae is generously sharing with KPU students.

“Having the opportunity to get a quality education in the science of brewing, to train on the best industry equipment and to craft connections with the industry is a recipe for success. I’m happy to have a hand in supporting B.C.’s next generation of brewers, and to be doing that alongside KPU.”

McQuhae sits on the advisory committee that oversees KPU’s two-year brewing and brewery operations diploma.

The program’s second intake of students began learning the science of brewing this fall, in a brand new, customized brew lab fitted with top-of-the-line equipment thanks to Newlands Systems.

For more information about the program, visit kpu.ca/brew.

Langley Times