Welcome back to the ABX Beer Chronicles, straight from the desk of the Beer Baron. Thank you for taking the time to read the first edition of the Chronicles last week. The reception has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m excited to watch this weekly publication grow with you as I continue to put it out each Monday.
What happened this past week?
A lot has happened in the past week since the first issue was posted: Alberta elected a new government: we’ll check in with the to-be appointed Economic Development and Trade Minister about inter-provincial alcohol trade barriers at a later date. Despite a great run during the regular season, the Calgary Flames were extinguished by the Avalanche – making NHL history for the first time both conference champions were eliminated in the first round. If you’d told me a month ago that Calgary would have more wins than Tampa Bay in the playoffs, I’d have been a happy man. The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, a historical landmark, suffered a significant fire. I remember being 19 years’ old and visiting Notre Dame. I left the cathedral and stopped at a street-side café and asking for “une biere, s’il vous plait.” As a recently turned-of-age beer drinker I had done little exploring with beer; what I was brought that day was unlike anything I’d ever tasted. This was no Molson Canadian, nay, nay. This beer was an interesting colour, it had a smell I couldn’t believe, and a taste even more surprising. The waiter told me it was a “white beer,” which I began to ask for during my next two weeks around Paris – I later found out I was drinking Kronenbourg Blanc and Hoegaarden, which started my love affair with witbiers. Every time I have a witbier it takes me back to those two weeks in Paris and the Notre Dame Cathedral. A tragic loss to the historical society.
I hope you were able to enjoy your long weekend and had the chance to spend time with family and friends. And if you were hiding eggs for the kids hopefully you hid some treats (cans of beer) around the house for yourself as well. Save some of that chocolate (if you didn’t dip into it on Saturday with a case of the 420 munchies) and pick up some dark delights for pairing: Stouts, Porters, Brown ales, Belgian Dubbels. You may even want to consider pairing a Barleywine with some of the caramel-filled chocolate offerings; or try something sweet like a Fruit Lambic – a Framboise can be a nice accompaniment to chocolate. Do some experimenting and find what pairings work for you.
Beer for a Good Cause
Christina from Freehold Brewing in Calgary, Blind Enthusiasm in Edmonton, and the Parkinson Association of Alberta have teamed up to bring you ‘Dunkel Shmilk’ (4.7% ABV). ‘Dunkel Shmilk’ is a dark brown lager with milk chocolate aromatics, a rich chocolate body with a cherry note, and lactose sugar to give it that creamy and crisp mouthfeel. This collaboration hopes to make the world a better place one pint at a time; $1 from every pint sold will be donated to the Parkinson Association of Alberta. This is a cause near and dear to Christina, as her Oma lived with Parkinson’s for 20 years. The brew launches in Edmonton April 25th at Beer Revolution, Biera, Craft Beer Market, Pink Gorilla, Plaza Bowl, Northern Chicken, Glass Monkey, Board N Brew, Three Boars, The Common, Arcadia, and Wishbone. Then on April 30th you can find it on tap in Calgary at Last Best, Cilantro & Chive, Dandy Brewing Company, and Craft Southcentre. Get out to at least one of these places and buy a round to support a good cause.
New Brewery Launches
Okay, they may not have a brick and mortar location yet, but Big Beaver Brewing is launching their first beer this week. Kudos to them for taking risks and coming out of the gates offering a Brut IPA and a Red Ale as their first brews, both weighing in at 5% ABV. The Red Ale is “a classic UK-style Red Ale, with caramel and dried fruit characteristics. We didn’t try to do anything funky with this one,” says Big Beaver’s Michael Hiltz. Before we go any further, we should discuss the name – get your mind out of the gutter – one of the founders is from Big Beaver, “a small hamlet in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan.” Sorry to burst your bubble. As for the Brut IPA, Hiltz had this to say:
“This one we went a little different route on; obviously IPAs, DIPAs NEPAs, etc. are all the rage and there’s tons of great ones out there. When we started this journey of contract brewing, we looked at our timeline of when we could realistically have product to market and seeing that it was Spring/Summer we thought we’d try something a little different and create this EXTREMELY crushable dry IPA. We used a Kveik yeast along with an enzyme to knock out the bitterness. What you’re left with is Amarillo hop flavors and an extremely low IBU to make this the go-to summer brew.”
Sounds promising and certainly ambitious. I'm sure the crew at Big Beaver has done their fair share of brewing before deciding to go commercial with their hobby, but opening with a Brut IPA is still a bold choice. Can't wait to try it!
Another soon-to-be brewery, Valley Brewing in Drumheller, announced the first of their five core beers; Capstone Pilsner. It’s a “mash up of pilsner malt and German hops creating a light, crisp, crushable any-time-of-year beer. Long Hop Brewing in Calgary has also canned their first commercial offering ‘Let’s Not Beat Around the Bush’ Pale Ale, but, according to their social media, “no exact release date has been named yet.”
SunnyCider Gears Up for Batch #2
Releasing any new crafted alcoholic beverage to market is always a nerve-wracking experience, even for veterans in the industry, but the folks at Sunny Cider in Calgary seem to have hit it out of the park. Their first batch release was immensely successful with people scouring the city to find liquor stores that still had some bottles left. Their second batch is now kegged and ready to go. This batch was made from Granny, Red Delicious, Gala, Spartan, and Mac Okanagan Apples and was aged for four months. Be on the lookout for it around the city.
Best of Both Worlds – IPA Whisky
From time-to-time I like to take a break from beer, and I might enjoy a nice Whisk(e)y or Scotch. But thanks to the joint efforts of Burwood Distillery and Zero Issue Brewing I can enjoy the essence of both in one glass (okay, I could pour Whisky and IPA into a glass together, but I’ll leave the blending to the experts). This has been a project a year in the making. Word has it, this drink has all the attributes you love about Nemesis, but with the added spice of a spirit; “all of the sweetness, tropical fruit, and rich bourbon smells on the nose carry straight through into the flavour when it is sipped.” On the finish you can expect a wave of hop flavour to remind you this isn’t your dad’s Whisky. It weighs in at 44% ABV and will be available April 30th. Burwood and Zero Issue are hosting a Beer and Whisky Dinner at Hayden Block on April 30th, featuring two Burwood spirits – both infused with Zero Issue beers – and three other Zero Issue beers, sans spirits.
We’re almost ready for you to come visit! Our opening has been slightly delayed due to some hang-ups with certain permits (any of you reading this who have started a brewery or craft beer store, I’m sure you can relate to those pesky delays); however, we’ve made some great progress this week at the store. Our walk-in keg cooler was installed, as was our service counter, and the private event space is now complete featuring a sweet coffered ceiling. We’re really excited to host you in this space for some of our educational tasting sessions. Stay tuned for our upcoming session and our opening date.
And that will wrap up this second edition of the ABX Beer Chronicles Vol. 2. Check back next Monday for Vol 3.
The Beer Baron
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in CRAFT BEER
’88 – Released ‘Jump Street Triple IPA’ Friday (10.1% ABV, 95 IBU), “For this monstrous Triple IPA we went huge on the malt bill, chucked in as much Mosaic, Simcoe and Idaho 7 as we possibly could during the boil, and of course we had no choice but to dry hop with 21 grams per liter, which makes this our most aggressively dry hopped beer yet!, Like a 25 year old pretending to be a high school senior, its sticks out a bit. You’ve been warned!”
Annex Ales – New beer ‘Null Test’ Citra Pale Ale (4.9% ABV) collab with Third Harmonic Beer to be released April 25 at The Common in Edmonton. “Fermented with Kviek yeast. The yeast is doing most of the work here, as it shows off this incredible lemon and lime juice flavour and aroma with a tiny bit of acidity.”
Big Beaver – Very first beer launches will hit the market this week: ‘Red Ale’ (5% ABV, 23 IBU) “A classic UK style Red Ale, with caramel and dried fruit characteristics. We didn’t try to do anything funky with this one, we just wanted a tasty and crushable Red Ale.” And ‘Brut IPA’ (5% ABV, 12 IBU) “we used a Kveik yeast along with an enzyme to knock out the bitterness. What you’re left with is Amarillo hop flavors and an extremely low IBU to make this the go-to summer brew.”
Citizen – New beer release for their 100th batch ‘Batch C’ Blueberry Nitro Milkshake Sour (5.5% ABV), “The beer is fruited with blueberry puree, adding to the tartness of the sour. We added Cashmere and Mandarina Bavaria hops to the mix, two hops known for their unique citrus flavours. The milkshake character of this beer comes from the added lactose during the boil. We used a higher than normal oat addition to the mash on this one and then put it on nitro for an extra creamy head and mouthfeel.”
Common Crown – Now pouring ‘Hef Off!’ Hefeweizen (5.5% ABV)
The Establishment – New release on the Brewer’s Tap ‘Brandon’s Hefeweizen’ German Wheat Beer. ‘Straight Razor’ West Coast IPA, and ‘Afternoon Delight’ New England Pale Ale now available in cans.
Freehold – Releasing ‘Dünkel Schmïlk’ Dark Brown Lager (4.7% ABV) April 25 (Edmonton), April 30 (Calgary) collab with Blind Enthusiasm. “A dark brown lager with a ruby hue, milk chocolate aromatics, on wafer-like malt character, rich chocolate body and a tantalizing cherry note. The addition of a touch of unfermentable lactose sugar gives it a creamy, yet crisp, mouthfeel.” Edmonton available at: Beer Rev Oliver Square, Biera, Craft Beer Market, Pink Gorilla, Plaza Bowl, Northern Chicken, Glass Monkey, Board N Brew, Three Boars, The Common, Arcadia, and Wishbone. Calgary available at: Last Best, Cilantro & Chive, Dandy Brewing Company, Craft Southcentre.
Inner City – Launched two new beers on Wednesday, ‘Slide into the Sea’ West Coast IPA (6.4%) and ‘Aftershock’ West Coast ISA (4.7%) “We used the same hops and hop schedule for both of these beers to highlight the impact of grist and ABV on hop character.”
Last Best – Current seasonals on tap: ‘The Morning Show with Kelly RIPA’ Hazy Red IPA (7.2% ABV) “Notes of grapefruit, pineapple, pine and dankness complemented by a caramel and light coffee malt backbone, medium full body with a medium dry finish, dry hopped with Amarillo, Chinook and Simcoe.” ‘Super Hype 2.0 DDH IPA’ (5.9% ABV), “Double dry hopped IPA, Ella/Enigma/Simcoe hops, dark gold, slight haze, grapefruit, soft floral and light berry aroma, moderate sweetness, grapefruit pith bitterness, slightly grassy, all delicious”
Legend 7 – Canning ‘Superbia’ Saison
Long Hop – Canned ‘Let’s Not Beat Around the Bush’ Pale Ale (5.4% ABV)
Mill Street Brewpub – Released new beer ‘The Red Mile Weisse’ Berliner Weisse with Raspberries
O.T. – Two new beer releases ‘Ape Index’ Barleywine and ‘Double Dry Hopped Flagstick’ (with Simcoe hops)
Revival Brewcade – New small batch released Friday, ‘Superstar’ Blood Orange IPA (6.6% ABV, 67 IBU) “A big blast of hops during the whirlpool followed by generous amount of dry hops gives that classic Citra IPA flavour. We upped the game and loaded it with 84lbs of Blood Orange puree on our 4bbl nano during high krauzen and post fermentation.”
Tool Shed – New release: blended ‘Flat Cap Stout’ into a Speyside Scotch barrel, being poured on nitro, have canned ‘Black is the New Pink’ Black IPA – Pink Boots Society brew
Village – Hosted The Ringwalds’ EP release party on Saturday – The Ringwalds’ made a bubblegum flavoured beer for the event
Wild Rose – New beer release ‘Chuck Industrial Park Ale’ IPA
Zero Issue – Teased a new beer ‘Relic’ , style unknown, with some nods to comics. Seems like it will be a release around Calgary Comics & Entertainment Expo (Apr 25-28)
Alley Kat – Announced new core beer: ‘Fish Bone’ New England IPA for their 25th Anniversary (to release April 25th)
Analog – Two new beers on the way: ‘Popping Pilsner’ (5.1% ABV) “A Dry hopped pilsner done in the classic style with imported German Malt. The dry hopping leaves with a super crisp citrusy flavor.” And ‘International Beire De Guarde’, “For their second international collaboration, the Saison, Bière de Garde, & Farmhouse Ale Appreciation Society was inspired by the French Biere de Gardes from the turn of the 20th century. This beer uses a heritage Albertan 6-row barley and was boiled for 5 hours. We then fermented it on oak with a mixed culture of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, and Lactobacillus. With breweries from over 17 different countries participating this really is something worldly.”
Bent Stick – Re-released ‘Art Teachers Office Dank IPA’ Friday, “Back for 420 with a new danker formula! We first brewed this IPA for the legalization of cannabis 6 months ago. We switched up a couple of the hop varieties and are stoked on the overall dankosity of this batch!”
Blind Enthusiasm – Will release ‘Best Friends Forever… forever’ (5.3% ABV) on April 23. “It’s a hoppy, super-dry ale. Straw coloured and lightly hazy, this medium-high bitterness ale has notes of ripe pineapple, papaya, and lemongrass. Flavour displays some honeydew melon and a touch of earthiness. It finishes ultra-dry and clean. We made this beer with our good friends Town Square Brewing.”
Sea Change – Re-stocked ‘The Eagle’ Session Ale on Saturday, teased a possible collab with Phillips
SYC - are hosting a party for can release April 26th
Town Square - new beer release ‘Don't Call Me Sweetie’ Saison, Pink Boots Society collab with Wine & Beyond
EVERYWHERE ELSE, ALBERTA
4th Meridian – New experimental release ‘Root Beer’ (7% ABV)
Apex Predator – Teased a collab brew with High River, ‘Whiskey Gap’ English Strong Ale (10.5%, 23 IBU) will release in about 2 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 – Continue to tease their new can releases featuring sharp Bauhaus-inspired art
Dark Woods – now selling bombers of ‘Tree Top’
Fahr – Are now pouring a Radler “made like home in Germany.”
Field & Forge – Core lineup 6 pack cans hit shelves last week
Folding Mountain – new summer seasonal release: ‘Summer Margarita Gose’ available May 4, to retail the following week
Grain Bin – Have released ‘Make Happy Vol 2’ Sour IPA
Hamill Brothers – New beer release ‘Pub Ale’ Extra Special Bitters “lightly roasted flavours from our amber malt – these might come through as home baking or even a tiny bit of a nutty flavour. The hops are low in aroma and bitterness, the floral and tea flavours provide a subtle complement to this easy drinking beer.”
Hawk Tail – Releasing a new beer April 22nd, ‘Hawk Tail New England Pale Ale’ (6% ABV), Launched a ‘Double IPA’ for #SmallBatchFridays, will launch a ‘West Coast IPA’ on April 26 for the next edition of #SmallBatchFridays
Hell’s Basement – coming soon: ‘Lemon Verbena Pale Ale’, new release: ‘Strawberry Feels Forever’ Light Blonde Ale “made with real strawberries, giving just a whisper of ripe strawberry character.”
High Country – Currently have an ‘English Pale Ale’ and ‘Kolsch’ on tap, and will release a ‘Cascading Black IPA’ on tap in two weeks
High River – posted a video of their collab with Apex Predator, looks like it’s an American Wheat Ale using mangoes and kiwi
Hub Town - Will begin construction on the brewery April 23rd
Lakeland – Will have three new summer seasonal beers: ‘4 Day Work Week’ Hefeweizen, ‘Frigid Gypsy’ Grapefruit Radler, and ‘The Dude Abides’ DIPA
Medicine Hat – now pouring #SmallBatch ‘Peach Cobbler’ Red Ale
Olds – now selling new student brew ‘Heart of Gold’ Hopped Wheat Ale, ‘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: ‘ESB’ Extra Special Bitter
Ribstone Creek – Launched their ‘Raspberry Berliner Weisse’ (4% ABV) Thursday, “This classic German beer style dates back to the 16th century and became the drink of choice for many of those living in Berlin. A subtle sour tartness is balanced nicely with the sweetness of fresh, orchard-grown raspberries. This provides for a refreshing beer finishes clean and dry. An exceptional beer that is perfect to share with exceptional people!”
Sawback – New beer release ‘Lime Gose’ with Himalayan Salt & Coriander
Sheepdog – Brewed their first beer this past week
Township 24 – New beer ‘Norwegian Kveik’ pilot brew
Valley – Teased the first of their five core beers ‘Capstone Pilsner’ “a mash up of pilsner malt and German hops creating a light, crisp, crushable any-time-of-year beer.”
… in CRAFT SPIRITS
Burwood – teamed up with Zero Issue Brewing using their ‘Nemesis IPA’ to make an IPS Whisky (44% ABV). “This Whisky has all of the attributes of the Nemesis with the added attitude and spice of it becoming a powerful spirit. All of the sweetness, tropical fruit and rich bourbon smells on the nose carry straight through into the flavour when it is sipped. It finishes with a wave of hops just to remind you that it doesn't conform to the whisky norm.”
Confluence - released ‘Vinland Aquavit’ “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.”
Troubled Monk – released ‘Troubled Tea’ Hard Iced Tea
Sunny Cider – now available on shelves again - ‘Batch #2’ (4.5% ABV) “was made from Granny, Red Delicious, Gala, Spartan, and Mac Okanagan Apples. Aged for 4 months.”
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 25 – Burwood Distillery hosting Chef inspired 7-course tasting dinner
April 30 – Burwood Distillery & Zero Issue Beer & Whiskey Dinner at Hayden Block, $65/person
April 30 – Beertail Dinner at Craft Beer Market featuring cocktails using Common Crown beer and Park Distillery spirits