The ABX Beer Chronicles Vol 6.

Welcome back

Welcome back to the ABX Beer Chronicles on this fine Tuesday. Which is basically Monday after a long weekend.

I hope you enjoyed the long weekend. If you went camping, I admire your dedication and hope the rain held out enough for you. If you camped out at home with some beers in front of the TV watching the Game of Thrones finale, that’s just as good a use of a long weekend. In this issue we’ve got some exciting things to talk about, namely the Canadian International Beer Awards (foreshadowing: more like Gold Garden, am I right?), but we’ll get to that last. Before that we’ll cover some exciting new breweries opening across Alberta this summer that will give you a reason to go road-tripping. Some brewers are really latching on to the kveik trend – but not up shit kveik, drinking beers to support a good cause, and some fun collaborative brews on the way. Let’s dive right in!

Get Ready for Some New Breweries This Summer

If one of your favourite summer activities is visiting one of the many plethora of breweries that Alberta has to offer, then I have good news for you. There are at least five new breweries opening soon. Heathen’s Brewing in Calgary is a gluten-free brewery aiming for a mid-June opening date now that they’ve received their intern license from the AGLC. In Edmonton, two new breweries will soon open: Polar Park and The Growlery. The Growlery just brewed their first batch last week, and Polar Park has kept us excited with pictures of their progress on Instagram for some time now. They just recently teased their first beer, appropriately titled ‘The Endurance’; a testament to the amount of time, dedication, cutting of red tape, and overcoming of roadblocks it takes to open a brewery. They will showcase the rest of their opening lineup soon as they prepare to open. Sheepdog Brewing is Canmore’s newest brewery, they’re set to open June 7th. If you’re looking for a fun day trip into the mountains, Sheepdog is your destination and you can checkout some other great breweries while you’re in that neck of the woods. Last, but certainly not least, is our neighbour down the street, Two House Brew House. I popped into the brewery last weekend to say hello and the space is looking great. We at ABX are certainly looking forward to collaborating and working with them as we look to bring more people into the great little community that is Sunalta. 

Collabs on the Horizon

There’s something about two of your favourite breweries coming together to make one showstopping beer that warms the heart. There’s a few recent collabs out now and some that are coming soon that are sure to do that. Annex has teamed up with Cabin to bring you ‘Long White Cloud’ a Hazy New Zealand Pils. Wait a minute, that’s two lagers in as many weeks from Annex, is everything okay over there? Wild Rose will release another collab on May 25th, this one with Montana’s Tamarack Brewing called ‘Yeah Baby!’ Red Ale. It’s dedicated to Calgary Flames alumni as it celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Flames Stanley Cup win. Apex Predator and Folding Mountain are bringing you ‘Hour 12’ India Pale Lager (named for the amount of time it takes to drive between those two breweries). Hell’s Basement in Medicine Hat joined forces with local radio station Chat 94.5FM to brew ‘Chat Country Cold One’ a Farmhouse-style Saison. Troubled Monk brewed a beer with a winning group of marketing students from Red Deer College. Paddy’s is hosting a launch party May 22 for a collab brew they made with Eighty-Eight. And perhaps the biggest collaboration of all involved Edmonton’s Analog Brewing. They’ve teamed up with 40 breweries from 17 countries to bring you their interpretation of the annual ‘International Biere de Garde.’ 

 

Kveiks and Bruts are Trending

One of the newest brewing trends in Alberta is the use of kveik (pronounced kwike). What is ‘kveik’, you may ask? It’s a centuries-old Norwegian yeast strain, the origins of which are suspect at best. A few breweries have taken to using it recently, most notably New Level in Calgary. In my experience, it’s not unusual to see a brewery experiment with a line of kveik-fermented beers, brewers tend to love experimenting with this long-tenured strain. New Level’s latest offering is ‘Valhalla Awaits’ a New England Imperial Kveik Ale (NEIKA), weighing in at a hefty 8.2% ABV, with a boatload of oats and spelt to help round it out. Prior to that they made ‘A Haze in the Northern Sky.’ But it’s kind of appropriate isn’t it? A brewery with a Viking-looking mascot making use of a Norwegian yeast. Some things are just meant for each other. It helps that the beer is pretty good too. Another Calgary brewery, Banded Peak, will release their ‘Kveik Imperial IPA’ for their 3rd anniversary on May 26th. They teased the can on Instagram the other day and it appropriately features a wolf howling into the night; I say appropriate because it’s hopped with Lupine Lupulin (Wolf Hops).

Brut-style beers were a popular style last year, but some breweries are resurrecting the trend again. Typically, you see Brut IPAs (in one case I’ve seen a Brut Stout), but now Outcast Brewing and Last Best from Calgary have teamed up to bring you ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ a Brut Pilsner weighing in at 6% ABV. I like Brut IPAs, and I love a good Pilsner, now I’m curious to see what a Brut Pilsner is. Can’t wait to try this one out. Hawk Tail made a ‘Brute IPA’ for their Friday Small Batch Series last week, and Wild Rose collaborated with Movement U on ‘Bridgeland Brut’ which will be available this week.


Beers for a Good Cause

You (or at least I) don’t need a reason to drink, but somehow the calories seem to not count when you’re helping support a good cause; enter Blindman Brewing. The Hudson Heart Project was started by Lucas and Jayme of Red Deer’s Classic Tattoo after spending many nights in the Stollery Kids Hospital in Edmonton with their son Hudson. Now they host a fundraiser each year with all of the proceeds going to Stollery Hospital; last year they raised over $41,000 by giving 187 tattoos to 159 people. Once again Blindman has made a beer for this annual fundraiser, the ‘Hudson Heart Project New England-Style Dark Ale.’ The Project takes place on June 2nd this year. 

Feature Story

Cold Garden and Blindman Clean Up at Canadian International Beer Awards

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The Canadian International Beer Award results are in! Before we get to those, some quick notes about the CIBAs. They were formerly called the Calgary International Beerfest Awards, and are presented by Alberta Beer Festivals awarding Gold, Silver, and Bronze to breweries from Canada, the US, and Europe across 27 categories. Beers are judged according to Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines; judges include head judges, experienced beer industry people, and select media. 

This year, Cold Garden and Blindman did very well, with each taking home a whopping five medals (four of Cold Garden’s five were Gold), the next two breweries closest were Prairie Dog and The Establishment with three each. I think Cold Garden has earned the right to call themselves Gold Garden. Cold Garden won the judges hearts and were the closest to sweeping the podium in the Best of Alberta and Best in Show categories where their Red Smashed in Buffalo Jump and Vanilla Cappuccino Porter took Gold and Bronze, respectively, in both categories. Origin Brewing and Malting’s Legal Issues took Silver in both categories as well. Cold Garden also won Gold in the People’s Choice Award for best Brewery. Troubled Monk knows how to deliver a wicked cask ale, churning out Gold medal winners in both their Friday and Saturday cask offerings. Prairie Dog can make a mean cask ale too – they took a Silver for Friday’s cask and a Bronze for Saturday’s along with a Gold for the Rookie of the Year category with their Coconut Brown Ale. Blindman took home two Gold medals for their Cascadian Dark Ale and Ichorous Imperial Stout, two Silvers for their Triphammer Robust Porter and IPA, and a Bronze for the People’s Choice Brewery. Tool Shed took the Silver in that category between Cold Garden and Blindman.

A full list of winners can be found below the What’s New section of this newsletter, I also included a total medal count and a points system (3 points for Gold, 2 for Silver, 1 for Bronze) if you’re interested in determining a ranking. Based on my points system, Cold Garden and Blindman were the only breweries to crack double-digits with 13 and 11 points, respectively. A few breweries had 6 points and were the next closest.

 

That will do it for this edition of the ABX Beer Chronicles, thanks for reading again and we’ll see you next week!

Cheers,
The Beer Baron

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WHAT’S NEW…

…in BEER

CALGARY

88 – Released two new barrel-aged beers ‘Princess Peach’ Off-Dry Belgian Saison, “brewed with peach puree, fermented with Sauvignon Blanc wine juice, and then aged in a large Congac barrel for 3 months”, and ‘Bob-Omb’ Imperial Dark Lager (7.2% ABV), “brewed with flaked corn and aged in Tequila barrels for 3 months”

Annex – New collab release with Cabin: ‘Long White Cloud’ Hazy New Zealand Pils, “Brewed with Pilsner, Carafoam, flaked barley and rolled oats then hopped aggressively with Waimea and Wakatu hops. It presents strong notes of honey dew melon, white pepper and crackery malt”

Banded Peak – Shared a sneak “Kveik” of their three-year anniversary beer, a Kveik Imperial IPA, available at their three-year anniversary party May 26

Citizen – New beer alert: ‘Snap Crackle Hops’, “similar to your favourite lager, crisp and clean and no-nonsense. We used Saaz hops to help bring that classic Pilsner vibe. Technically an ale, the grain bill on this batch includes a ton of rice, keeping it light with a smooth mouth-feel and crisp finish.” Also teased a new collab beer available in cans soon.

Freehold – New Sociable Series release: ‘Spirit of Summer’ Gin Radler, “A wheat beer bursting with rays of sweet grapefruit and gin botanicals.”

Heathen’s – Received their intern license from the AGLC, aiming for a mid-June opening date

Inner City ‘Victoria Park’ Porter now available in cans

Marda Loop – New beer: ‘Cherry Bomb’ (5.3% ABV, 20 IBU), “made with real fruit puree!”

New Level – New beer release: ‘Valhalla Awaits’ New England Imperial Kveik Ale (8.2% ABV, 70 IBU), “Our fun with Norwegian yeast continues. It's got that haze, that super thick body, and a drier finish. Loads of Spelt and Oats for that extra mouthfeel. Lots of Citra, Ekuanot, Topaz, and Motueka hops.”

Ol’ Beautiful – New beer release: ‘Pacific Remedy’ Pineapple Ginger Sour (3.5% ABV), “this tingly, appropriately tart and subtly sweet delight is sure to sweep away all your rainy day woes.”

Outcast – Kegged a collab brew with Last Best: ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ Brut Pilsner (6% ABV), “Lagered for almost 3 months, it's the crispiest pilsner you'll drink all summer.”

Paddy’s – Hosting a launch party May 22 for a collab brew with 88, ‘Summer Session Ale’ canned and now available in liquor stores

Prairie Dog – New beer available: ‘Vanilla-oaked Porter’

Tool Shed – Pilsner will be available on June 13, New beer ‘Passionfruit’ now available

Wild Rose – New beer release for May 21: ‘Bridgeland Brut’ IPA collab with Movement U, “light on body and heavy on citrus and wine aroma.” Another new beer release May 25: ‘Yeah Baby!’ Red Ale collab with Montana’s Tamarack Brewing Company, dedicated to Flames alumni and the 30th anniversary of their Stanley Cup win

 

Zero Issue: Now have prints available for purchase of their can artwork

EDMONTON

Analog – New international collab: ‘International Biere de Garde’ collab with 40 breweries from 17 countries, “A mixed fermented beer with Sacro, Brett and Lacto this beer has been aging for 6 months on French Oak. Expect funky tart notes with a fruity overtone and a light refreshing body.”

Bent Stick – New beer release: ‘Front Lawn Saison’ (7% ABV), “stone fruit/ pineapple aromas and flaves, finishing dry and balanced with herbal notes from dandelion greens we added to the whirlpool.”

Blind Enthusiasm – New beer release: ‘Cheeky Christine!’, “this vibrant fruit beer is pink and lightly cloudy. It has a berry nice aroma of blackberry. Featuring a little bitterness, blackberry notes and a middle spiciness, it finishes with a dry cranberry note.”

Polar Park – Have named their first beer ‘The Endurance’, with more beers to come prior to their opening

Sea Change – New beer: ‘First Tattoo’ IPA (7.5% ABV), “Big tropical fruit notes from massive double-dry hopping with Vic Secret, Mosaic, and Azacca. Passionfruit, pineapple, orange peel, grapefruit, guava, and mango. Full bodied, silky mouthfeel, low-medium bitterness, dry finish.”

The Growlery – Brewed first batch

 

Two Sergeants – New beer release: ‘Incendiary Blonde’, “Just in time for the warm weather, inspired by WWII bomber nose art.”

EVERYWHERE ELSE, AB

Apex Predator – New beer to be released May 23: ‘Hour 12’ India Pale Lager collab with Folding Mountain, “One hour and 12 minutes is the time it takes to drive from one brewery to the other.”

Blindman – Released a beer for the Hudson Heart Project: A New England-Style Dark Ale, “Hazy, juicy and roast-y we hope you love it and the wonderful institution it supports.”

Field and Forge – Teased a new seasonal ale with limes

Hawk Tail – Release for Small Batch Friday: ‘Brute IPA SB1’, “sweet citrus and cucumber. Carbed with a bite to clear the pallet. Instantly refreshing.”

Hell’s Basement – Brewed a collab with Chat 94.5FM: ‘Chat Country Cold One’ Farmhouse-style Saison, to be ready for the first day of summer

Medicine Hat – New core four 12 packs featuring: ‘Boomtown’ Lager, ‘Sin Bin’ Red Ale, ‘Industrial Ave.’ IPA, and ‘Gentlemen’s Stout’

Olds College – New beer releases: ‘Aggie’s Gone Wild’, “this stronger version of the classic Aggie Ale expresses similar flavours combined with a drier, warmer finish. And ‘Wild Wild Prairie’ (7.7% ABV), “this drier and stronger version of Prairie Gold is a comfort before the arrival of the summer.”

Peace River – New beer available: ‘40K Farmhouse Ale’ Saskatoon Braggot (6% ABV), “brewed with locally grown saskatoons from Harmon Valley, 20KM to the East and honey from the Grimshaw area, 20KM to the West of PRB. It's a light brew with an almost floral flavor profile. It has drier finish.”

Sheepdog – Will open their taproom June 7th

Siding 14 – New limited release: ‘Wig Wag’ Sour Witbier

Troubled Monk – Brewed a collab (style yet-to-be-named) with Red Deer College’s Donald School of Business marketing students, and bottled a new beer

 

Valley – Showed off another core brand: ‘Discovery’ Raspberry Ale, “A perfect blend of real raspberries with a blonde ale base, fresh jam aroma and a berry refreshing flavour.”

Canada International Beer Awards

Light Lager: (S) Mexellent Lager – Brewster’s

Pilsner: (G) Captain’s Log German Style Pilsner – Caravel, (S) Pilsner – Big Rock, (B) Blue Bridge Lager – Oldman River

Amber/Dark Lager/Bock: (G) Munich Style Dunkel – Caravel, (S) The Dark Side Schwarzbier – Something, (B) Meridian Black Lager – Township 24

Light/Amber Hybrid: (S) My Best Friend’s Girl – The Establishment, (B) Grunt Work – Hard Knox

UK Ales: (G) Red Smashed in Buffalo Jump – Cold Garden, (S) Legal Issues – Origin, (B) Abbey Lane – Ribstone Creek

American Ales: (G) Cascadian Dark Ale – Blindman Brewing, (S) Bring Back Summer Pale Ale – Grain Bin, (B) Flight Path – Red Bison

Specialty Pale Ales: (G) Super Saturation – Cabin, (S) Miss Mermaid Session Ale – Snake Lake, (B) Afternoon Delight – The Establishment

Porters: (G) Victoria Park – Inner City, (S) Triphammer Robust Porter – Blindman, (B) Good Mood Porter – Good Mood

Stouts: (G) Ichorous Imperial Stout – Blindman, (S) Leviathan – New Level, (B) Alta Mira – Red Bison

IPAs: (G) Sunshine Rain – Cabin

Specialty IPAs: (S) Megawatt NEIPA – Town Square, (B) Claustrophobic Black IPA – Omen

Wheat/Wit/Rye: (G) He Ain’t Hefe He’s My Brother – Hell’s Basement, (S) The White Wit – Something, (B) Hef Off! Hefeweizen – Common Crown

Belgian/French Style Ales: (S) Lacy Saisy Saison – Freehold, (B) Community Garden – Inner City

Cider/Perry: (G) Rock Creek Rose – Big Rock, (B) Dry Hopped Bru – Lekker

Specialty Beers: (G) Vanilla Cappuccino Porter – Cold Garden, (S) Peanut Butter Porter – Brewster’s, (B) Welcome Sour Stout – Grain bin

Rookie of the Year: (G) Coconut Brown Ale – Prairie Dog, (B) Hibiscus Brett Saison – The Establishment

Fruit Beers: (G) Raspberry Berliner Weisse – Ribstone Creek, (B) Peach Sour – Railyard

Best Friday Cask: (G) IPA #22 – Troubled Monk, (S) Spring Prairie Dog Cask – Prairie Dog, (B) Nut Brown – Something

Best Saturday Cask: (G) Barrel Aged Stout – Troubled Monk, (S) IPA – Blindman, (B) Second Cask of Spring – Prairie Dog

Best of Alberta: (G) Red Smashed in Buffalo Jump – Cold Garden, (S) Legal Issues – Origin, (B) Vanilla Cappuccino Porter – Cold Garden

People’s Choice Awards Best Brewery: (G) Cold Garden, (S) Tool Shed, (B) Blindman Brewing

Big Rock: G1 S1 B0   Total Points: 5
Blindman: G2 S2 B1   Total Points: 11
Brewster’s: G0 S2 B0   Total Points: 4
Cabin: G2 S0 B0    Total Points: 6
Cold Garden: G4 S0 B1   Total Points: 13
Common Crown: G0 S0 B1   Total Points: 1
Caravel: G2 S0 B0   Total Points: 6
Freehold: G0 S1 B0   Total Points: 2
Good Mood: G0 S0 B1   Total Points: 1
Grain Bin: G0 S1 B1   Total Points: 3
Hard Knox: G0 S0 B1    Total Points: 1
Hell’s Basement: G1 S0 B0   Total Points: 3
Inner City: G1 S0 B1    Total Points: 4
Lekker: G0 S0 B1     Total Points:1
New Level: G0 S1 B0     Total Points: 2
Oldman River: G0 S0 B1   Total Points: 1
Omen: G0 S0 B1    Total Points:1
Origin: G0 S2 B0    Total Points: 4
Prairie Dog: G1 S1 B1    Total Points: 6
Railyard: G0 S0 B1     Total Points: 1
Red Bison: G0 S0 B2     Total Points: 2
Ribstone Creek: G1 S0 B1    Total Points: 4
Snake Lake: G0 S1 B0     Total Points: 2
Something: G0 S2 B1      Total Points: 5
The Establishment: G0 S1 B2     Total Points: 4
Tool Shed: G0 S1 B0     Total Points: 2
Township 24: G0 S0 B1     Total Points: 1
Town Square: G0 S1 B0     Total Points: 2
Troubled Monk: G2 S0 B0    Total Points: 6

Events

May 26 – Time for Kindness Summer Fundraiser at Arcadia (Edmonton) featuring food from Biera and casks from Town Square, Sea Change, Bent Stick, Blind Enthusiasm, and SYC, tickets $40/ea

June 6 – Juicy Fruit Tap Takeover at Last Best, 18 Alberta breweries, 18 Alberta fruit beers

July 6 – Punk in Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival (Edmonton)

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