Nothing inspires a team more than a little friendly competition, and Big Rig is no exception. If you’ve had the chance to stop by our Taproom in the last few months, you may have heard rumblings about a Lager Competition – and it’s because we are doing just that.

Since beer is what we do best, we decided to open up the creative floor to all our brewers to do a little something different. Originally starting out as an experiment for a few brewers, it quickly evolved into a full on competition of varying lager flavours.

In an essence, each brewer (or pair in some cases) came up with an original recipe for a type of lager, and then brewed their selection. Being that lager is one of the most popular beer styles in the world, it has proved to be a unique task to come up with variations that set itself apart from the crowd.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing you to each beer – and you’ll get to know our brewers in the process!

This week, you meet two very different variations of lager – ‘I Love You, Man’ Märzen by brewer Eric, and ‘Disorderly Conduct’ IPL by head brewer Kris.

‘Disorder Conduct’ IPL – 4.5%, 28 IBU
Head Brewer Kris Cote

Big Rig: What inspired you to choose this style?

Kris: I think everyone else was doing classic styles, so I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to do something different; I just wanted to do something that had a lot of hops, very hop forward. I’ve been drinking a lot of New England style IPA’s lately, and figured it was a good excuse to make something like that, but make it a lager.

BR: What are the key tasting notes you were going for?

K: A really smooth, creamy body. There is wheat and oats in it, so I kind of wanted that ‘breadiness’ – that oat, smooth mouth feel. And I added a whack of hops. All the stuff that I used was really tropical and citrusy, I was looking for those hop characteristics, with low bitterness. Something you can drink a couple of pints of.

BR: What inspired the name ‘Disorderly Conduct’?

K: I thought it sounded good. Everyone wanted to do classic lager styles, and this beer isn’t anything like those. It is kind of more brash and in your face, a more disorderly structure of the competition.

BR: What would your ideal food pairing be for this beer?

K: I think something spicy. Something really hot like chicken wings, or Thai food. Good, spicy Thai.

BR: How did you get your start in brewing?

K: I started home brewing. A friend of mine was doing it, so I started doing it with him. I didn’t grow up really drinking beer; I didn’t like the taste of beer. But then I had a Hefeweizen, and it was like nothing I’d ever had before, so I started drinking beer and getting more interested with the details of how it’s made. I then started to brew with a buddy of mine, and then it just went from there.

BR: Whose upcoming beer are you most intimidated by?

K: That’s tough, I think everybody has been making good beers so far. A lot of people have something to prove. But, I think Cody. He’s been making the Vienna for a couple of years now, he really knows what he’s doing with the recipe and it’s really tasty. But Lon really could come out nowhere as well; he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve.

‘I Love You, Man’ Märzen – 7.0%, 20 IBU
Brewer Eric Saulis

Big Rig: What inspired you to choose Märzen?

Eric: It’s not a very well represented style in Canada. I decided to do something that interested me back when I was in school, just because it was something I hadn’t really heard of and I wanted to try it. There weren’t a lot of examples out there, so I just… made one.

BR: What are your key tasting notes you were going for?

E: What I was going for was malty sweet, with a little bit of bitterness, with finishing notes of citrus and herbal.

BR: What inspired the name ‘I Love You, Man’?

E: So, let me tell you a story. When I designed the recipe I designed it be within range – so around 6.5%. When I actually brewed it, it came out a little bit higher than that. Kris [Big Rig Head Brewer] and I were talking about the beer and how I should name it something along the lines of being drunk at Oktoberfest – because typically Märzen is an Oktoberfest style beer. So I went on the old “Google box” and looked at different styles of drunk at Oktoberfest, and the one I thought was funniest was the “I Love You, Man” – which is also a reference to a phenomenal movie.

BR: If you were the one serving your beer, what is the one thing you would want the customer to know?

E: The number one thing about it is that I genuinely care about it, it was a passion for me to do this one because it was something that I’d been trying to perfect over a couple years, and was lucky enough to get the opportunity to try it on such a large scale for a brewery and have it go out into the market. Hopefully it was received well, from what I was told it was drinkable… so that’s what I was going for.

BR: Ideal food pairing for your Märzen?

E: Definitely gotta be sausage and potatoes. Gotta go straight German on this one.

BR: How did you get into brewing?

E: I’ve always liked beer, even when I was a kid – that makes me sound like I’m an alcoholic [laughs]. It was something that was interesting to me, and I was lucky enough to live with people who knew worked at the Clocktower, and got to do some stuff with them. Then I found about the college program [at Niagara College] and went down there, and found out that making beer was a viable option for a career. It just seemed natural!

BR: Whose upcoming beer are you most intimidated by?

E: Having tasted Kris’, definitely his. Phil’s is a fairly good example of the Bock, and Cody’s was a very good Vienna, and I haven’t had a chance to try Hugh’s yet or the other ones, so definitely Kris’.

Eric’s ‘I Love You, Man’ and Kris’ ‘Disorderly Conduct’ have already run its course. Did you get a chance to try either of these tasty beers?

We’ll be back next week to introduce two more delicious lagers!