Karen Kuzyk, General Manager at Category 12 Brewing - Baron Mag

Karen Kuzyk, General Manager at Category 12 Brewing

Calgary International Beerfest x Baron
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Who are you and your current job?

We're Michael and Karen Kuzyk, and presently when Michael isn't on the brewhouse, we're overseeing all aspects of planning, production, marketing, distribution, bookkeeping...you get the idea!

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What was the inspiration behind your brewery? 

The first forays into brewing were simply out of cash-strapped necessity as students...for years the creative (and scientific) outlet was a welcome distraction from Michael's academic and career pursuits, though as time passed we realized that the window during which we would be comfortable seizing the opportunity to create our own brewery was not going to be open forever, and made the plan to create our own. We've shamelessly leveraged Michael's scientific background (he has a Ph. D in Biochemistry and Microbiology from UVic) to create our own "lab", Category 12, where we can create the beers that we are genuinely passionate about. Our bottle label art helps to round out this new and exciting universe!

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Can you give us a tour of your beer scene? 

We are fortunate to be a part of a very vibrant, long-established brewing scene here in on the Island. For example, Victoria is home to Canada's oldest brewpub (Spinnaker's), as well as long-standing and successful breweries such as Phillip's, Driftwood, and Vancouver Island Brewing. Because there is already such a plethora of commonly consumed styles with fervent followers, we saw the opportunity to embrace beers that are slightly outside of the mainstream. Our creations over the last two years have been diverse: we've used a multitude of yeast strains (cultured in-house!) as seen in our Wild IPA, our Barrel holder releases (we've had both delicious, complex, Belgian-inspired beers in bourbon barrels, as well as Brett IPAs aged in locally sourced red wine barrels; neither lasted long!), an Elemental Series dry-hopped kettle sour (now in it's second year...it has an aroma reminiscent of sour patch kids!), all the way up to our smooth and dangerous 10.6% ABV Belgian Golden Strong!

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What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a brewery?

Do your homework! We were able to execute our plan within a very short timeframe, without any major hiccups or budget overages, because our research was thorough and accurate. The process also was a good intro into the heavy paperwork/business side of brewing operations, which is decidedly unglamorous but absolutely essential for long-term success.