Best known as a cast member of The Real Housewives of Vancouver, Reiko Mackenzie has proved to be much more than a reality TV star. Mackenzie is a fiery, stylish mom with a passion for fast cars, and a healthy lifestyle ethos.
At first, it might seem a little curious that a health-conscious full-time mom would pursue the beer industry. When asked about her interest in craft brewing, Mackenzie describes herself as ‘a bit of a beer connoisseur’.
“I’ve always been a beer drinker. It’s been about five years now, since I started playing around with gluten-free recipes. I started blending my own flours at home.”
Originally the idea started as a gluten-free flour blend, and evolved over time into what is now known as Corsa, a pink, bubbly, gluten-free beer that Mackenzie describes as a ‘rose gold ale’- the first of it’s kind.
The name Corsa is born out of the Italian word for “race”, which is unsurprising given Mackenzie’s very vocalized passion for racing, and Italian cars (she owns two Italian cars which she loves to race). It is described on the website as “a full-throttle gluten-free fuelled beer”.
Typically, beers are derived from malted barley or wheat. So, making a beer that is gluten free, but still has the consistency and taste of beer in the absence of one of these main ingredients is likely the most pertinent obstacle. Corsa is made using brown rice and gluten free oats.
Part of what makes this alternative beer extra-appealing is that it maintains a 5.5% alcohol content, which keeps it neck-in-neck with the majority of craft beers on the market.
In regards to it’s pink colour, this was an important aspect to the unique beer Mackenzie was aiming to create. “Obviously, it’s to attract more females to drinking beer,” says Reiko. “Because beer is so awesome.”
As far as palette, this beer has a light, crisp and clean flavour, with a very slight tinge of sweetness which comes from fresh blackberries, which are also responsible for the beer’s gorgeous baby-pink colour. Mackenzie says that she “didn’t want to make the beer to sweet, because [she] isn’t a fan of sweet drinks in general”. The fact that Corsa isn’t uncharacteristically sweet definitely contributed to its popularity across a wide audience.
Though this rosé brew is appealing to the eye, it is by no means a ‘girly’ drink. Since it hit taps and shelves in September of last year, Corsa has received a large following from celiac beer-lovers, foodies and craft-beer enthusiasts alike.
Corsa is brewed in Portland, which makes it an import beer, but Reiko chose this particular brewery because it is a 100% gluten-free facility, which ensures authenticity of the brand’s claim. “My brewers are celiac, so I trust them,” says Mackenzie.
Reiko also made a serious point of using as many local ingredients as possible for Corsa, though the majority come from Washington and Oregon. “We’re the pacific northwest, that’s all of us here”.
As creative director, Mackenzie was in charge of pretty much everything from the recipe to designing the label: a sleek, red and white label which screams post-racetrack relaxation.
The success of Corsa underscores Mackenzie’s passion and drive to do something different with something she really loves. Not to mention, it is the perfect way to make her own name, and step away from the ‘reality TV’ label. Her advice for young entrepreneurs is classic: “Do what you love.”
Since she is a self-described connoisseur, I had to ask Reiko what her top 3 beers are aside from her own, and I must say I was impressed with her responses:
- Fuggles and Warlock IPA
- Driftwood Fat Tug IPA
- Kronenbourg Blanc
You can find Corsa at private liquor stores and on tap at Darby’s St. Augustines, Pink Elephant Thai, and O’Hares. There is also talks of Corsa coming to taps at Pourhouse as well, so stay tuned for that!
For more updates, follow @reikomommy on Twitter
Review by Alycia Sundar