Polyrhythm invites beer lovers to sip and sign

· The Pulse

After a year of business, Polyrhythm Brewing continues to brew inclusivity in the beer world with an event where attendees will use sign language to discuss the beer.

"We wanted to make sure that we created a space where everyone felt welcome," Chelsea Tessier, co-owner and head brewer of Polyrhythm, told Taproot. "It was really about creating a community space for us."

The upcoming Sip and Sign event on March 27 is an example of this approach, as attendees will learn about both sign language and beer. The event is a partnership between Polyrhythm, Hop Forward Society, a non-profit focused on intersectionality in Alberta brewing, and the Edmonton Association of the Deaf.

The event will feature a slideshow created by Polyrhythm and the association about sign language, as well as a beer tasting, and a discussion of beer-specific terms in sign facilitated by interpreter volunteers from the association. It will cost $5 for entry, and beer flights will be 10% off. Tessier said she's curating the beers for the tasting component with event-specific care.

"I want to pick some interesting ones that would have some signage (discussion points)," she said. "We just released a salted gose with orange peel. I don't know if interpreters will be able to translate the word 'gose,' but it's also a sour."

Tessier and her husband, Taylor Wacey, opened their taproom and brewery at 11635 145 Street NW last March. Tessier hails from Cornwall, Ont., while Wacey grew up in B.C. Part of their work on inclusivity came from needing to feel welcome as transplants to Edmonton.

"It was hard to find a space where you could go and hang out, and not feel awkward by yourself," Tessier said. "We wanted to create that space where you could come by yourself, sit at the bar, and have a good conversation with the person serving your beverage."

Three people clink glasses of beer inside a taproom.

Chelsea Tessier (right), the head brewer and co-owner of Polyrhythm Brewing, toasts to opening last year with friends from Ontario. Polyrhythm will host Sip and Sign, a hearing-inclusive event on March 27. (Supplied)

Work to create inclusivity includes tangible measures such as a Pride flag in the window, wheelchair accessibility, and a safer spaces policy posted in gender-neutral bathrooms.

"We do everything that we can here to ensure that everybody feels welcome," Tessier said.

Tessier comes from a background in science, while Wacey is a drummer and electrician. That's where the name Polyrhythm comes from. It applies to music and brewing in tandem, and also parallels ideas within intersectionality.

"Polyrhythm is two or more rhythms. But it also is applicable for beer, where you're combining two or more ingredients to create beer — and how the community is made up of so many different people, and it makes up one rhythm," Tessier said.

Tessier participated in Hop Forward Society's first Edmonton event at Irrational Brewing in July. It was one of the inciting incidents behind Sip and Sign. Another was a chance encounter with a mother to a deaf child, who pointed Tessier towards HandSpeak, an Edmonton-based compendium of resources for American Sign Language and more, run by Jolanta Lapiak since 1995.

In addition to celebrating a year in business and the Sip and Sign event, Tessier is collaborating with Endeavour Brewing Company and others on a Pink Boots Society beer in recognition of International Women's Day and Women's History Month. It will be a hazy India pale ale.

Polyrhythm sells products across the region at retailers that include both Sherbrooke Liquor locations and Highland Liquor in Edmonton, and at Little Guy Liquor in Sherwood Park.