New entry into Alberta beer market is set in Stone

- October 15th, 2014


Despite the long-held misconception by many people more accustomed to Budweiser being representative of American beer, the craft beer scene south of the border is really far ahead of what’s going on in Canada.

We’re catching up, but there is lots to be envious about.

In a lot of ways, though, we don’t know what we’re missing, because there is so much that isn’t available here.

Case in point is San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. This award-winning brewery, the largest craft operation in southern California, is just now being released in Alberta and B.C.

Wholesaler Horizon Beers, which recently brought Colorado-brewed New Belgium beers to Alberta, has partnered with Stone Brewing to bring six year-round brews, plus seasonal releases to stores, bars and restaurants starting Monday, Oct, 20.

“It’s awesome to be able to bring Stone beer to many of our long-awaiting Canadian fans,” said Stone Vice President of Sales Todd Karnig.

“We chose Horizon Beers because they believe in providing craft beer fans with quality beers at the peak of freshness—something that is extremely important to Stone.

“Canadians are ready for Stone, and we feel privileged to contribute to the country’s prospering craft beer scene.”

In honour of the occasion, Stone, Horizon and Craft Beer Market in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver have teamed up for special launch parties next week, featuring up to 15 Stone beers on tap. They have been giving away tickets through their Twitter pages. Keep checking for your chance to win.

In addition, there will be events at other top beer spots in all three cities, including National in Calgary, MKT in Edmonton and Biercraft Bistro in Vancouver, plus several others.

For a full listing of events surrounding the Stone launch in Alberta and B.C., check the Stone Brewing Co. website.

Big Rock hopes your next party is a Barn Burner

- October 15th, 2014

The Steel Cut Oatmeal Raisin Stout and the Thresher Wheat Lager are featured in Big Rock’s Barn Burner 12-pack.

Two things I like about Big Rock Beer doing a fall mix pack:

1. They include Scottish Heavy.

2. They do a fall mix pack.

Big Rock has many a good beer in their lineup, but, admittedly, I’m biased in favour of their darker offerings. As refreshing as Grasshopper can be, I’ll take Trad or McNally’s Extra any day.

Last fall, they unveiled an Oktoberfest Marzen and a Royal IPA in their fall pack.

This year, they take the party to the farm with the Barn Burner, which makes a nice alternative to all the pumpkin offerings you may see on the shelves.

It offers up Trad and Scottish Heavy (a favourite of mine, if you’re just joining the blog), plus new offerings Steel Cut Oatmeal Raisin Stout and Thresher Wheat Lager.

Both offer up a taste of the prairie harvest as we nestle in for a cold winter ahead.

The Thresher Wheat Lager reminded me of my first attempt at home brewing using a Brooklyn Brew Shop kit. The colour of the Thresher, as with my Brooklyn Summer Wheat Ale, is a nice copper colour, in this case from the caramelized wheat malt.

This delicately hopped lager has a nice malty flavour, with enough of a balance from the hops.

For added oomph, the Steel Cut Oatmeal Raisin Stout takes Brewmaster Paul Gautreau’s favourite cookie and turns it into a nicely drinkable stout. it has all the characteristics you’d expect, with roasted malt flavours and chocolate notes, but with a hint of the added raisin and other dark fruits.

The Barn Burner 12-pack is available in stores now.

Mill St. gets hip with 100th Meridian

- October 15th, 2014

The latest release is the golden yellow 100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager.

I am a fan of amber lagers.

I like them a lot better than lighter lagers, with their rich biscuity flavour and crisp hop finish.

Sam Adams Boston Lager, Creemore Springs and Barking Squirrel are a few I quite like, but I’m always interested in trying new ones.

So I was quite excited when I heard Mill St. Brewery was releasing its 100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager in Alberta.

I’m a fan of a lot of what Mill St. has to offer, especially their Vanilla Porter and Stock Ale, as well as some of their seasonals.

The 100th Meridian (which, if you’re a fan of the Tragically Hip, you’ll know is where the Great Plain begins) is billed as an organic amber lager, made with ingredients from the heart of the country’s breadbasket.

While I don’t think it can be classified as a disappointment, it did fall a little short of expectations.

That’s not to say it’s a bad beer, mind you. It’s a nice, easy sipping lager that’s a good fit for a warm autumn evening, how ever many of those we still have left.

It falls somewhere between light yellow lager and a deeper copper tone that you may expect with your standard amber.

Staring into the glass after pouring it, it looks almost like amber in the literal sense, as in fossilized tree resin. It’s a golden yellow, deeper than your typical lager, with a nice white head.

Flavour-wise it tastes like a cross between a pale lager and a darker amber. It has light breadiness, but a lot of fruit and grass notes, with a crisp enough hop finish.

Does it fail for not being and amber I know and love? You could make the argument. But I think judging it on its appearance and taste, it is still a good Mill Street product.

Strap on your lederhosen – it’s Oktoberfest season

- September 24th, 2014

Visitors celebrate with first beer mugs the opening of the traditional Bavarian Oktoberfest festival at the Theresienwiese in Munich, southern Germany, on September 20, 2014. Germany’s world-famous Oktoberfest kicks off with millions of revellers set to soak up the frothy atmosphere in a 16-day extravaganza of lederhosen, oompah music and, of course, beer. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOF STACHE

It’s that time of year: The leaves are changing colour, the weather is cooling, and people are ready to break out their dirndl and party it up at Oktoberfest celebrations.

The concept of a German-themed, beer-fuelled oompah fest is nothing new, but the folks behind Alberta Beer Festivals (Calgary International Beerfest and the Edmonton Craft Beer Festival) are bringing a craft beer focus to Oktoberfest efforts, which kick off this weekend in Cowtown before debuting Oct. 3 in the Chuck.

While people may normally associate massive steins and Bavarian barmaids with Oktoberfest, the two events are sampling events, with a bit of a German twist, giving patrons a chance to try a variety of local and German beers from nearly 30 breweries.

“That’s the benefit of a sampling event,” Alberta Beer Festival’s Trevor Bacon says.

“We want to expand our presence in Edmonton,” Bacon added.

“We feel we need to introduce more beers to Edmonton audiences.”

Both Calgary’s and Edmonton’s festival will feature European brews from the likes of Peroni, Pilsner Urqell, Fruh, and Maisel, but there’s also a heavy focus on Canadian craft beer.

Alley Kat, Big Rock, Wild Rose, Olds College, Grizzly Paw, Tool Shed, the list goes on.

Adding to the craft beer goodies is a cask stage, with special beers unique to each festival.

Calgary’s features Olds College, Wild Rose and Brewsters on Friday, while Saturday features a collaboration brew, Village Brewery and Something Brewing.

Edmonton’s cask stage features Olds College, Hog’s Head and Brewsters on Oct. 3, followed by Wood Buffalo, Alley Kat and Ribstone Creek on Saturday.

Both events will feature local food as well as oompah music and other live entertainment.

Tickets to get into the event are $19 in advance or $25 at the door, with tokens available on site for beer and food samples.

For more info on both festivals, visit the Alberta Beer Festivals website.


You want beer, Edmonton? Shabam! You have a beer fundraiser

- September 10th, 2014

Sample beers from across Western Canada at Shabam Beer Tasting Festival, in support of the Kidney Foundation.

With the cool weather settling in around Edmonton sooner than anyone would really have liked, warming up with a few beers seems like a worthy enough cause.

But when that worthy cause is actually for a worthy cause, it makes it even better, right?

The Kidney Foundation is hosting its annual Shabam Beer Tasting Festival this Friday, Sept. 12, at the Alberta Aviation Museum Hangar on Kingsway Ave.

“It’s the fifth year we’ve been putting together the event,” said Flavia Robles, executive director of the Kidney Foundation Northern Alberta and The Territories Branch.

“It’s really a time for people to be intimate and interactive with the brewers.”

The event features brewers from across Western Canada: Alley Kat, Big Rock, Brewsters, Central City, Great West, Grizzly Paw, Hogs Head, Okanagan Spring, Wild Rose, Yellowhead and Yukon, as well as Sherbrooke Liquor Store, who will have a sampling table, plus they’ll be running the on-site store, for those who want to take some home afterward.

Admission to the event is $20 in advance or $25 at the door, and with it you get a glass and two drink tickets, and every ticket after that is $2 for a 4-0z. pour.

In addition to the beer tastings, there will be music and food on site, as well as a silent auction.

The event goes from 7-11 p.m., but pouring stops at 10.

For tickets and more info, click here.