He was 35 years younger and his hair had no sign of the grey that covers his scalp today.
But Okanagan Spring head brewmaster Stefan Tobler remembers vividly the day – a Saturday – as a brewmaster’s apprentice, the first product the Vernon brewery produced rolled out on Oct. 19, 1985.
“It was our Premium Lager,” said Tobler, now 54, on the 35th anniversary of that historic day. “We don’t make that anymore. Our 1516 product took that over.”
That first brew, under the guidance of then-head brewmaster Raimund Kalinowski, took more than 12 hours to make, then needed another six weeks to ferment.
The Premium Lager was introduced to the public on New Year’s Eve, 1985.
“We used to have a store attached to the brewery so we started selling it there,” said Tobler, who became head brewmaster in July 1992. “Then we got it into the local stores and pubs.”
The ‘super brief’ history of the brewery, as it reads on its website, goes like this: “We first opened our doors in 1985, in Vernon, B.C. Inspired by our natural surroundings — and a total lack of damn good, local beer — we started brewing our own. To us, making a better beer isn’t work. It’s a way of life.”
From Day 1, Okanagan Spring has been a huge community supporter, one of the North Okanagan’s largest employers, and a proud category leader in the province.
Okanagan Spring products recently won five honours at the World Beer Awards – including gold as the winner for its Porter, and silver for its King Eddy Pilsner and Pale Ale.
Tobler and his crew have released Okanagan Spring’s new seasonal beer, Winterland Orange Cranberry Ale.
As for the 35th milestone, Tobler has quiet plans.
“I might have a beer or two,” he chuckled. “Here’s to another 35 years.”