His first-ever beer may not have gone down as smooth as Kenton (Kent) Donaldson would have liked.
Growing up in Vernon, attending BX, Hillview and Silver Star elementary schools, Fulton Junior Secondary and Vernon Senior Secondary, Donaldson was a teenager out with his uncle, in uncle’s truck, showing him some trails on the way to Becker Lake, up Vernon Mountain. It was where he liked to ride his dirt bike.
“He wanted to see where I’d been going, so I showed him. On the way down, he stopped, reached around and pulled out a can of Kokanee beer for me,” said Donaldson, 58, who now lives in Golden. “I choked it down and thanked him for the beverage.”
Since knocking back that first brew, Donaldson grew fond of the drink, and turned a lifelong love of beer into a full-time endeavour.
A retired geophysicist who graduated from VSSS in 1979, then went on to engineering school at UBC in Vancouver, Donaldson and his wife, Shelley, had been living in Calgary where they had been doing some home brewing.
On an excursion to Golden to look at a possible home on Golden’s ski hill, Donaldson met local resident Mark Nagao and the pair discovered within 15 minutes they shared a love of beer.
“I said to him, ‘man, this place needs a brewery,’ and we almost went to Vernon,” said Donaldson, who launched Whitetooth Brewing Company Ltd. with Nagao in Golden on Dec. 1, 2016, named after a former ski hill in the area.
With the help of brewmaster Evan Cronshaw, Donaldson has helped make Whitetooth Brewing Company Ltd. one of Canada’s best breweries.
The brewery picked up five medals – three gold, one silver, one bronze – from the live-streamed online 2020 Canadian Brewing Awards ceremony Saturday, Sept. 12, in Toronto.
“The winning beers were selected in a series of blind tastings by a panel of BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program)-certified judges,” said Donaldson, who has obtained his BJCP ranking, meaning, “I’ve tasted a lot of fantastic beers.”
Whitetooth won gold in the Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadruple category for its Directissima Dubbel; in North American Style Pale Ale division for its Sickbird Northwest Pale Ale; and in the American Belgo-Style Ale competition for its Icefields Belgian-Inspired Pale Ale.
It took silver in the Belgian-Style Abbey Ale/Pale Ale for its La Tenace Belgian Single, and Whitetooth won bronze in the Belgian-Style Tripel event for its Trepanation Tripel.
“Beer is a fabulous beverage,” said Donaldson. “Every minute, though, the drink is getting fancier. There’s lots of diversity. But we have Evan and he loves to brew.”
Donaldson is currently working on a sour raspberry style beer in his Golden garage, with his son.
Whitetooth’s products can be found in Vernon at Monashees Wine Spirits Beer, Vernon Square Liquor Store and the East Side Liquor Company.