Sad news in the brewing world Wednesday, with word of the death of Big Rock’s founder, Ed McNally.
Big Rock President and Chief Executive Officer, Bob Sartor, expressed his sentiments on behalf of the entire Big Rock team: “Ed leaves behind a legacy larger than life and we will forever be grateful, not only for this great company he created, but also for the lasting impression he has left on the lives of everyone who had the privilege to know him.”
For some Alberta beer drinkers, Ed McNally may not be a household name. But they’d be more than a little familiar with his legacy.
Back in the early ’80s, beer choice in Alberta wasn’t much of a choice. The notion of craft beer? Relatively unheard of around these parts.
Ed McNally helped change that, founding Big Rock in 1985, at the young age of 60, already having an accomplished career as a lawyer.
He originally set out to ”make the beers that I want to drink, not what will be popular.” But Albertans were thirsting for choice as well, and of the Bitter, Porter and Traditional that were first brewed, Trad is a mainstay in the lineup.
The brewery has a signature lineup that stands up well against any other brewery in the country, with Trad and Grasshopper among the most popular, but also an assortment of flavourful brews, including light caramel notes in the Warthog, the bold Scottish Style Heavy Ale, a quality IPA, and a tasty Irish ale that bears his name, McNally’s Extra.
Though he retired from the brewery in 2012, his name looms large over the company.
It’s a testament to McNally that some may see his brewery as one of the big guys. McNally and his team of brewmasters worked hard to build the craft segment in western Canada, and the brewery’s success, as well as its continued push to be creative, is something to be proud of.
If it’s been awhile since you picked up a Big Rock, it would be a fitting tribute to raise a glass to the man who helped move the beer industry in this province along.