A lot happened this past week:
- scientists took the first picture of a black hole (how did they get into my beer cellar?),
- voting for the Alberta election started,
- the government lifted the final Federal barrier on interprovincial alcohol trade,
- and of course many in the Alberta beverage industry were at the Craft Brewer’s Conference in Denver.
Stronghold Brewing in Fort McLeod gets a facelift!
Trolley 5 is getting the Red Mile ready
Pink Boots Society brews named after badass women
Pink Boots Society beer releases continue to trickle in. Trolley 5 tapped their ‘Betty White’ Peach Cream Ale, Grizzly Paw released their ‘Pucker Me Pink’ Dry Hopped Sour, and Olds College Brewery will release ‘Demeter’ White IPA. That beer is named after Demeter, the Goddess of the Harvest and Mother of Barley, as we continue to see Pink Boots Society brews named after some badass women.
Alley Kat Brewing celebrates 25th anniversary
Alley Kat Brewing in Edmonton is preparing to celebrate their 25th anniversary by introducing a new beer to their core lineup: ‘Fish Bone’, a New England IPA. That brew will launch April 25th. Some truly salivating releases were announced last week: Cabin dropped their ‘Little Red Wagon Tart Cherry Pie Ale’, which is exactly what it sounds like. The name offers a hint of nostalgia; I fondly remember my Little Red Wagon – that is, before my grandmother turned it into a garden planter. Last Best teamed up with Crave Cupcakes to release a Red Ale with Crave’s signature red velvet cupcake batter in it! And Paddy’s Brewbecue released a ‘Blackberry Vanilla Dark Sour’. Plenty of sweet-sounding treats hitting taps and shelves this week.
The Fort Distillery in Fort Saskatchewan releases Premium Roast Espresso
Old Prairie Sentinel Distillery in Lacombe releasing a new Ready-to-Drink cocktail, ‘Sufferin’ Bastard’.
Another exciting release in spirits this week was Old Prairie Sentinel Distillery in Lacombe releasing a new Ready-to-Drink cocktail, ‘Sufferin’ Bastard’. When founder and head distiller Rob Gugin told me I should look into the history of the cocktail because I might find it interesting, he certainly wasn’t wrong. The ‘Sufferin’ Bastard’ cocktail was invented by Joe Scialom, a trained chemist turned bartender, in Cairo, Egypt in 1942. He manned the bar at the Shepheard’s Hotel, a favourite spot of British officers and the press during World War II. The ‘Sufferin’ Bastard’ was born out of a need to cure hangovers as Joe had heard many British officers complaining about them. The Shepheard’s Hotel was destroyed in 1952, but the Sufferin’ Bastard lives on, and has now been brought back, thanks to the Old Prairie Sentinel Distillery.
Government lifts final Federal barrier on inter-provincial alcohol trade
Let’s explore that trade barrier bit I mentioned at the beginning of this newsletter a bit further. The lifting of that federal barrier removes the current rule which prohibits individuals from ordering or shipping alcohol across provincial borders. Meaning, the incoming/outgoing alcohol will no longer need to go through a provincial liquor authority; however, individual provinces and territories will need to make their own changes for direct-to-consumer shipping. This does little in terms of allowing producers of alcohol to sell their product in liquor stores of neighbouring provinces; rather, it’s geared toward fulfilling online orders from customers in other provinces. At least that’s how I interpret what was said in the press release from the government.
When I reached out to the AGLC for comment about this news I was told that “because Alberta is now in a general election, we are not able to respond to your specific request at this time…During an election…communications activities are limited to ensure that governments do not involve themselves in or influence the election.” Fair enough, that would also explain why I haven’t heard from the Economic Development and Trade Minister, Deron Bilous. Although Heather Holmen, Communication Manager with the AGLC did say the following: “Generally speaking, AGLC would not take a stance on another level of government’s legislation or speculate what it could look like.”
When I asked Mike McNeil, Executive Director of the Alberta Small Brewers Association, he had this to say:
“Although it’s encouraging that the Trudeau Government wants to remove internal trade barriers, ultimately, this does little for Alberta Beer. We need provinces working together to open their markets and eliminate discriminatory trade practices. As it stands now, Alberta brewers are disadvantaged by an uneven playing field that is holding back the growth of our industry.”
Hopefully we can get a more definitive answer about what this news might mean for Alberta-made alcohol once this election wraps up.
When is ABX opening?
And that will wrap up this first edition of the ABX Beer Chronicles Vol. 1. Check back next Monday for Vol 2.
The Beer Baron
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What’s happening in CRAFT BEER
’88 – Released ‘Liquid Diet’ Turmeric IPA, “added 1.5L of freshly pressed turmeric juice from our friends at Juice Because. To balance out that earthiness we heavily hopped it with Mosaic and cryo Citra.”
Born Colorado – Released ‘Hi Cutie!’ Wheat Ale with Raspberry and Mint
Cabin – Released ‘Little Red Wagon Tart Cherry Pie Ale’ (5.4% ABV, 15 IBU) Friday “Tart red cherries give the beer a most gorgeous violet glow, while delicate additions of cooking spices and a mountain of Golden Naked Oats have you swearing you’re smelling fresh-baked pie.”
Dandy – Will release their collab with Dieu du Ciel in about 2 weeks (all AB malts, all QC hops)
The Establishment – Recent releases: ‘Thirst for Knowledge’ California Common (5.2% ABV), and ‘Sure Footing’ British Best Bitter (4.7% ABV) “Tipping under the 5% mark this ale is super drinkable but also packs a solid malt flavour from Maris Otter and Crystal malts. Floral and earthy hop flavour and fruity esters balance the malt. Named after the dodgy floor at the original Establishment... A classic take on a British pub ale.”
Goat Locker – underwent a full rebrand and released a new ‘Light Pilsner’ (3.5% ABV, 7 IBU)
Good Mood – released a new experimental brew Friday – a Grapefruit Saison
Last Best – Released ‘A Crave Collaboration’ Red Ale featuring Crave’s signature red velvet cupcake batter, “light toast, and a dose of lactose for a smooth, delicious drinking”
Legend 7 – released a new mix pack, the ‘Gathering of Legends’, featuring their ‘Temptation’ IPA, ‘Serpens’ Pilsner, ‘Patience’ Pale Ale, and new ‘Superbia’ French Saison
Marda Loop – Renamed their ‘Sin Bin’ Golden Ale collab with Calgary Saints Rugby to ‘High Tackle’ (Medicine Hat Brewing’s Red Ale is already named ‘Sin Bin’)
New Level – Are putting 100 grams of blueberries into a new “hazy” they’re brewing up, despite being told to “stop putting fruit in beer”
Ol’ Beautiful – Released ‘Slow Waltz’ Vienna Lager, “rich in sweet, bready flavours with notes of light toast and a touch of hop bitterness for balance. This lager has been lovingly aged.”
O.T. – Brewed a Double IPA by taking Matt Sander’s ‘Luxury IPA’ (LIPA) homebrew recipe and scaling it up, featuring Azacca hops and adding a “huge drop of honey” from Two Pine Farms
Paddy’s Brewbecue – Released a ‘Blackberry Vanilla Dark Sour’ “fermented with an obnoxious amount of blackberries and finished with Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans.”
Red Bison – released ‘Purple Haze’ Blackberry Ale
Revival Brewcade – Released ‘NORM!’ New England IPA (6% ABV, 37 IBU) – named after Norm from Cheers - on Friday, and released ‘Surround Sound’ Pale Ale (5.5% ABV, 18 IBU), paying homage to The Paradise Garage and DJ Larry Levan in 1970s New York
Trolley 5 – Tapped Pink Boots Society release ‘Betty White’ Peach Cream Ale, and ‘Red Mile Blonde’ Vermont-style Blonde ale
Wild Rose – Relaunched ‘Ponderosa Gose’, new releases: ‘Barrack’s Brown Ale’ and ‘Rosie & Reggie Wraspberry Ale’
Alley Kat – Announced new core beer: ‘Fish Bone’ New England IPA for their 25th Anniversary (to be released April 25th)
Bent Stick – New beer release ‘B.S. Brune’ Strong Belgian Brown Ale, brewed with @beermedani, “This big delicious brown ale has a solid malt backbone and highlights of fruit and spice from the Belgian yeast”
SYC – Released ‘Lunar Phase!’ on Friday, “pairing fruity and spicy Franco-Belgian yeast with fruit, piney, new world hops, this beer is a nod to the cyclical nature of brewing. – Passionfruit, pine, spice”, and are hosting a party for can release April 26th
EVERYWHERE ELSE, ALBERTA
Apex Predator – Newest beer ‘Honey Oat Blonde’ (5.5% ABV, 4 SRM, 20 IBU) “brewed with over 50kg of locally produced honey, this beer is a clean, refreshing pint perfect for sipping on the patio”, ‘Whiskey Gap’ English Strong Ale (10.5%, 23 IBU) will release in about 3 weeks “a bold, deep red, single batch beer crafted specifically for APB’s 3rd anniversary – fermented with Sauvignon/Merlot/Shiraz grape must.” Will release the ‘Hour 12’ India Pale Lager collab with Folding Mountain at the end of May
Banff Ave – Announce they’ll be releasing two of their beers in cans, one a long time local favourite, the other a past brew with a new twist, new release ‘Strike a Chord’ Lime Gose (4.6% ABV) – a portion of the proceeds will go to Banff Mineral Springs hospital to support their music therapy program
Canmore – Releasing new beer next week, ‘Flowerdaze 2.0’ Honey Session Ale (4.5% ABV, 5 SRM, 24 IBU) collab with Breton Brewing from Cape Breton, NS. “This brew is light, has a mix of botanicals and delicious honey from the Scandia Honey Company, and is sure to go well with sunshine, and friends!”
Coulee – Brought back ‘Cold Press Coffee Porter’ (5.3% ABV, 37.5 IBU)
Fitzsimmons – Started canning a ‘Cranberry Pomegranate Sour’
Grain Bin – ‘Prairie Horizon’ Hefeweizen now available in 355mL cans
Grizzly Paw – Announce new Mountain Mixer Pack, featuring ‘Grumpy Bear’ Honey Wheat, ‘Beavertail’ Raspberry Ale, ‘Rutting Elk’ Red, and ‘Three Sisters’ Pale Ale, 12x355mL cans, 3 of each style, and released Pink Boots Society ‘Pucker Me Pink’ Dry-hopped Sour
Hard Knox – Released ‘Burning Fuse’ Jalapeno Pineapple IPA
Hawk Tail – Released a ‘Belgium White’ on Friday for #smallbatchfridays
Hub Town – Released their FIRST EVER commercial beer yesterday at Tom’s House of Pizza in Okotoks – (hope you enjoyed that pizza with the new Game of Thrones episode!). Will begin construction on the brewery April 23rd
Jasper – Teased a new Session IPA can, and new Albeerta Mix Pack featuring ‘Show Pony’ Pale Ale (Last Best), ‘Jasper the Bear’ Ale (Jasper), ‘Babe’ Blueberry Vanilla Ale (Wood Buffalo), and ‘All Malt Lager’ Munich Lager (Campio)
Olds College – Pink Boots Society Release: ‘Demeter’ White IPA (6% ABV), and Alberta Beer Festival #BeTheBrewer collab ‘Ctrl, Alt, D’Wheat’ Hefeweizen (5.6% ABV) will be available in Craft Beer Market Calgary (May 2) and Calgary and Edmonton International Beerfests
Red Hart – new beer release ‘Peated Porter’ (7.8% ABV, 37 SRM, 42 IBU) “big smoky porter with hints of dark chocolate, coffee, and peat smoke.”
Ribstone Creek – Are releasing a new ‘Raspberry Berliner Weisse’ (4% ABV)
Stronghold – Are continuing their ‘Summer Wheat’, now flavoured with added peach and blood orange
What’s happening in CRAFT SPIRITS
Confluence – Will release ‘Vinland Aquavit’ April 19, “Aquavit is a Nordic spirit celebrated across the globe and served as a digestif. Ours is a blend of Caraway, Dill, Fennel, and a variety of Alberta botanicals.”
Eau Claire – In addition to their ‘Cherry Tom Collins’, they will also be canning their ‘Equinox Mule’, and ‘Parlour Gin and Tonic’
Last Best – Released ‘Lamplighter Cinnamon Shine’, “adding to the Electric Avenue party…a naturally flavoured, no sugar-added, All-Alberta, barrelled Tri-Malt spirit. Infused with two types of cinnamon, sarsaparilla and Alberta cherries, containing no glycol.”
Old Prairie Sentinel – Have a new RTD beverage: ‘Sufferin’ Bastard’ Gin, Ginger, and Citrus Cocktail (6.1% ABV) “A lime-citrusy ping supports a subtle Gin sweetness through the middle, giving way to a hint of ginger and spice on the back of the pallet.”
Rig Hand – Friday released an extremely limited number (60 bottles) of a Single Cask Brum Barrel that was forgotten about and sat in that cask for almost 3 years
The Fort – Released their ‘Premium Roast Espresso Vodka’ (40% ABV) Friday, a collaboration with a local coffee roaster in Fort Saskatchewan “we are using Brazilian beans which are a cinnamon roast, and they steep in our Prairie Gold Vodka for 2 weeks”
What about MEAD?
Grey Owl – Three new meads coming soon
Sunny Cider – Began kegging batch #2
April 24 – Beermaker’s Dinner at Hotel Arts Kensington featuring Caravel Craft Brewery and Oxbow Restaurant. Four course meal + beer pairings, $75. Giving away 2 tickets to Calgary International Beer Fest
April 30 – Beertail Dinner at Craft Beer Market featuring cocktails using Common Crown beer and Park Distillery spirits