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Our First Brewmaster

Remembering Orrin Besko

Well known in the brewing industry, Orrin Besko brought more than thirty years of brewing experience to Old Credit Brewing Company. 

With a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Dairy Microbiology from the University of British Columbia, Orrin at first thought he was destined to work for the dairy industry. But it was brewing which ultimately attracted him. Orrin served thirty years  with several of the world’s largest breweries (Canadian and International) in the quality control, quality assurance, and direct production of beer. 


He was an active member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas starting in 1969 and an active member of the American Society of Brewing Chemists from 1966. In addition to his university education, he was also a graduate of the Siebels Institute of Brewing Technology (1970). 


An active interest and experience in environmental issues and the control of effluent from industry, especially the brewing industry, enabled Orrin to qualify and serve on the Environmental Advisory Committee for the city of Etobicoke from 1991 onwards.


Working at Old Credit Brewing, Orrin quickly became family. He would spend his days handling every step of the brewing process. Moving around with his pint glass in hand, taking small sips every so often. And his palette was so refined, that one sniff would tell him if things were going okay. 


On one of the first days of Old Credit Brewing Orrin’s mentor and long time colleague came over to visit him. It was John Britnell who Orrin learned under when he started working at Molson’s, and him who he wanted to show what he created. Fresh from the maturation tank Orrin filled two glasses of his creation, the Amber Ale. Then in silence he handed one of the glasses to John who picked it up, looked at it, and immediately ran outside. Holding the glass up to the sun he looked at the beer, smiling as he looked at the colour and clarity he turned to Orrin and said “You did it.”


Without Orrin, we would not be where we are today. His dedication, passion for his craft, and love of teaching created a tradition and left a legacy that we are happy to carry on today. We miss him every day.  

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