Women breaking the beer bro mold

While brewing is often seen as a male- dominated profession, two women working at the top at their craft in Edmonton’s core are proving otherwise.

Teaghan Mayers is the head brewer at Campio Brewing Co., which opened in October of 2019. Just down the street in the historic H.V. Shaw Building, Lisa Davis is the head brewer at the nearly decade-old Yellowhead Brewery.

“Everyone is super, super nice and welcoming, and no one ever makes you feel weird for being a woman in the industry,” says Mayers. “There’s a lot of diversity in people who make beer these days, which is great for the product because more diversity leads to better ideas.”

Mayers has an undergraduate degree in marine biology. She was pursing her master’s in microbial ecology, only to be fascinated by food microbiology and the microbiome of kimchi. After picking up home brewing, Mayers enrolled in a brewing program. Working at breweries in B.C., she went from volunteer to production manager to head brewer in nearly two years. She joined Campio as head brewer two months before it opened.

Mayers enjoys playing with different microbes and putting recipes together. But she finds passion in other aspects of brewing as well. “Some days I’ve got Carhartts on and I’m brewing and making beer, adding fruit to beer, doing barrel work and stuff like that. Then some days, I’m doing budget spreadsheets, doing production schedules,” she says. “You do a little bit of everything, which I enjoy about the job.”

Davis had experience home brewing. She planned on furthering her education in science when she got a job at Yellowhead Brewery in May 2016 as a growler bar server. Working in close quarters with the head brewer, Davis expressed interest in production. She soon had general production duties before moving into cellaring duties on her way to becoming the head brewer.

Davis says brewing is the “marriage” of science and creativity. She uses her creative side to develop recipes and her scientific side to master the technical components. “There’s a lot of science in brewing. There’s a lot of technical things,” she says. “I really love the technical aspects of the job as well as doing fun things like small-batch brewing and trying to be creative.”

Mayers believes the trade work in brewing leads people to see it as a male industry, but it’s not as male-dominated as perceived. “It’s less so than it used to be,” she says. “A lot of women are getting into it and a lot more women are getting into drinking craft beer as well.” And the industry is open to diversity. “The brewing community is a really great group of people who just want to make a really good product that brings people joy,” says Mayers.

The gender disparity has been a challenge for Davis at times. “It can feel like a boys club and sometimes it’s hard to feel like you’re on the outside of that,” she says. But Davis surrounds herself with supportive people. “There’s a lot of great people who don’t make you feel that way. So you just have to find those people and make relationships with them.”

What used to be a male’s beverage in a male’s industry has evolved and continues to evolve. “People are really open minded to learning it’s not that way,” says Davis. “You just have to find the right people who have the right mindset and have the same values that you do.”

YEG Cheap Eats

Green Onion Cakes, $2
Pub 1905
Every afternoon at 3 pm Pub 1905 puts an appie on sale. The best deal is on Thursdays with green onion cakes, regularly $4.50, on for $2.00. Other deals: Mondays bring John Ducey hotdogs for $3. Tuesdays is $3 for two, count ‘em two sausage sliders, on Fridays it’s 50 cent wings, and Saturday you can get a half- order of Nachos for $5. 10525 Jasper Ave

Meat Patty, $2.50
7-11, Downton and Oliver
When 7-11 introduced Jamaican meat patties to the masses it kicked off a whole new category of cheap eats. OK, so it’s not a gourmet pot pie from Meat Street Pies but then their food truck isn’t always parked on a nearby corner. There are three 7-11s in the core offering 310 spicy calories for less than a penny a piece.

Plant-Based Breakie Sandwich With Beyond Meat Sausage, $7
Pêche Café
Pêche Café straddles the border between the Downtown Edmonton and Boyle Street Community leagues and it’s already built up a reputation for being a reasonable- priced, convenient sandwich and coffee shop with great food. It’s open at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. on weekends. You can get a fresh-baked brioche loaded with plant-based egg, kaju chedda, and beyond sausage for only $7. Toss in a single-origin locally-roasted 8 oz coffee for $2.50 and that’s an upscale downtown breakfast at Boyle Street prices. Pêche is brought to you by the team at Die Pie. 10255 97 Street

Pretzels, $3
Beer Revolution
$6 truffle fries; $12 nachos and two-for-one pizza after 9 p.m. The tasty pretzels are the cheapest item; the fries the most filling. 11736 104 Avenue. Mon-Sat. 3-6 p.m

Miso Soup, $1
Let’s Grill Sushi & Izakaya
Looking across Jasper Avenue at the Commodore from a table at Let’s Grill sampling half price snacks is one of Edmonton’s more satisfying experiences. Not that the Commodore doesn’t have its place, it’s just that more, say, sophisticated tastes can be found across the street–for less money–if you go between 2 and 5 p.m. A stomach-filling meal for two of half-price snacks and two bargain cups of miso soup, cost before tip but with tax $11.39. The piping hot and tasty chicken karaage with Japanese mustard sauce is just the ticket for a winter afternoon in Edmonton. And the Tako Yaki balls with octopus inside tastes of a hot summer day at a street fair in Japan.

Also available for half price, rice or miso soup for a dollar, seaweed salad, edamame or tako wasabi for $2.25, agedashi tofu for $3, five chicken wings or tako yaki for $3.75, and chicken karaage for $5. 10709 Jasper Avenue

Food evolving – from truck to table

Filistix, one of the city’s first food trucks that turned into an on-campus food spot, is a new downtown restaurant, co-founded by Ariel del Rosario and Roel Cañafranca. We spoke with del Rosario to find out what brought Filistix to 100 Avenue and 106 Street.

It’s that hospitality quotient. Food is first and foremost at Filistix. Everything is meant to be shared family style, which is unique, not unique to Asian restaurants, but unique to crossover-type restaurants. Everybody shares. Big serving spoons. You get a big plate of fried rice and everybody shares and tastes.

It was two years ago that we started thinking about opening an off-campus site. The criteria for us choosing a spot was, we had to have [density]. The government district had that density. The area is starting to become more developed. I think in the next year or two, all of those buildings will be occupied or populated and it’s just going to bring more vibrancy to the area.

Initially, our idea was to do strictly Filipino street food, hence the name Fili for Filipino and Stix for skewers, meat on a stick. And that’s the quintessential Filipino-style street food. On every corner you see these little old ladies doing grilled skewers like satay in Malaysia or Indonesia. The inspiration came from that, but as circumstances changed, like us opening up on campus, we really had to evolve our menu so that it wasn’t just Filipino street food.

We had to tweak our recipes so they weren’t super traditional, so they were a little familiar. Even the presentation had to be a little more familiar. We want to introduce our version of our food. We’ve never claimed to be authentic in any way. We want to bridge the gap to people who don’t necessarily know what southeast Asian food really is. We want them to come in and feel the atmosphere and get a little glimpse of the culture.

We want to educate a little bit, introduce a little bit, where people come in and have good food, get drinks and enjoy the atmosphere in a super, super nicely designed space. We have cinderblocks and wood and plants and this really cool tiling on our ceiling that gives a sense that you’re not in Edmonton.

Creating Canadian Cuisine

The Butternut Tree, at 110 Street and 97 Avenue, at the edge of Oliver, is chef Scott Downey’s attempt to answer that most difficult question in Canada: what’s ours cuisine. We caught up with Downey and, in his own words, he told us about his restaurant.

I just want to provoke the question of ‘What’s Canadian food?’ What’s the flavour of Canada and how are we as a country, as a group of people, going to give an identity to that? The whole goal is just being able to share everything that we learn all the way along and tell people exactly where to get it.

photo: William Frost

It’s not like I got this special ingredient and I want to hide it and nobody else is going to be able to have it anymore. That’s the complete opposite of what we want to do. Once we have that, we say exactly who we got it from, where we got it from, when you can get it, and I think that’s just the big thing – the sharing of knowledge.

I ended up looking at about 130 spots through all of downtown … and finally, when I came to this spot, I knew immediately. The big part was the location and the view. When I walked in here and just saw this giant park, the river valley, we have the streetcar that goes across and then also being Canadian, we have the legislature, it was just this perfect fit.

This type of mentality that you can have a dinner as your night … I want to build a restaurant that was around that philosophy. I want you to come in, spend the night with us, let us take care of you. Drink some wine, eat some food and relax and actually enjoy your whole night here.

We want to be fine dining in our quality of service. We want to be fine dining in the quality of our food, but I want it to be like you’re coming and having dinner at my house. If you come in, I just want to welcome you, take care of you and make sure that you’re having a good time and that you’re comfortable.

– Interview by Miranda Herchen