Posts Tagged ‘big rock

Big Rock hopes your next party is a Barn Burner

- October 15th, 2014
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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.

Big Rock and Wild Rose hop to it with pair of September packs

- September 5th, 2014

Things are getting decidedly hoppy at two of Alberta’s big breweries this September.

Both Big Rock and Wild Rose are putting a bit of kick onto liquor store shelves with flavourful new variety packs.

In Wild Rose’s case, they’re offering an IPA trio that fans may be familar with, while Big Rock is offering a pair of twists on an old favourite.

In the case of the Wild Rose, they’re giving fans The Bitter Truth, in the IPA Family Pack, which features the brewery’s signature IPA, the White Shadow White IPA and the seasonal 42, a lighter Session IPA.

All three are tasty brews, and nice expressions of the style.

Plus, there’s this.

Big Rock, meanwhile, is unleashing hopped up versions of it’s old standby, Traditional Ale.

Dubbed Rad Trad, the six pack features three bottles each of The Cascadian and the Anarchist.

Both clock in at 6.1% abv (compared to the flagship Trad’s 5%), and feature two very different styles of hops.

As its name would suggest, The Cascadian features Pacific North-West hops varieties Cascade, Chinook and Citra, adding citrus characteristics to the mild malt flavours.

The Anarchist, on the other hand, is like the punk rock cousin in the family.

It spices things up with a quartet of British hops: Challenger, Progess, Fuggle and Goldings.

Watch for both of these in your local liquor stores this month.

Alberta loses craft beer pioneer with death of Big Rock founder Ed McNally

- August 20th, 2014
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Big Rock founder Ed McNally gives a thumbs up aas he stands with a statue of himself at the Big Rock Brewery Inc. 18th Annual Big Rock Eddies on Monday, June 6, 2011 at the Jack Singer Concert Hall in downtown Calgary, Alberta.
STUART DRYDEN/QMI AGENCY

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.

Big Rock continues busy year with spicy entries.

- May 7th, 2014
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The latest Big Rock Swinger Pack, featuring two new beers.

It’s hard to keep up with everything going on in Calgary’s growing craft beer scene, and Big Rock is a big part of that.

They have set an ambitious brewing schedule, and have already released an ESB, a druid gruit (an old-world blend of beer and flavouring herbs instead of hops), and they’ve collabeerated with the folks at Phil & Sebastian and Tool Shed Brewery on a very unique coffee stout.

And they just don’t stop.

Their latest in the Alchemist Edition is another old-world throwback, this time to Norse mythology.

Freyja’s Field is a Mead Braggot named for a Norse Goddess, and is a delectably light concoction made from Alberta clover honey, two-row malt, hallertau hops and special yeast.

It is a great combination of mead and beer that combines into its own unique concoction.

It’s available in 650 ml bombers, and is in stores, but just 3,000 were produced, so you may have to hunt for some.

For those who are looking to mix it up a little, Big Rock is out with its new Swinger Pack.

Old favourites Grasshopper and Saaz Republic Pilz are back, but replacing the Purple Gas and the Paradox Dark Ale are the Juniper Berry Mild Summer Lager and the Cracked Pepper Wheat Ale.

They both live up to their names.

The Juniper lager allows the slight bitterness of the berries to play with the citrus and pine flavours of the Chinook and Cascade hops. Last year’s Hibernation Ale featured juniper in a mix of berries and herbs, but this lets it stand alone, and it’s pleasantly crisp.

For my taste, the Cracked Pepper could have used a bit more spice and it still would have been a light, easy-drinking ale, but it is definitely the kind of beer you could pair well with chicken hot off your grill.

Not too fizzy, it has a nice pepper aroma with a light pepper finish.

The 12-can Swinger Pack is in stores now.

Next up for Big Rock, I believe, is the Rhine Stone Cowboy Kolsch.

Give a hoot about Calgary craft beer with Night Owl from Tool Shed, Big Rock and Phil & Sebastian

- April 24th, 2014
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The Night Owl coffee stout from Tool Shed and Phil & Sebastian.

Tuesday was a big day for the guys behind Calgary’s Tool Shed Brewing Company.

Not only did they get the keys to what will become their new headquarters — they’re moving out of the shed and into their own warehouse space in the northeast — but they launched a pretty special beer.

The Night Owl Kenyan French-pressed Coffee Stout blended the talents of Tool Shed’s Graham Sherman and Jeff Orr with the coffee know-how of the folks at Phil & Sebastian. The team collaborated with Big Rock brewmaster Paul Gautreau to launch night owl to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Calgary International Beerfest.

If that’s not enough cross-pollination, all the proceeds from the beer will be donated to support a scholarship for the Brewmaster Program at Olds College.

For those wondering whether Calgary’s craft beer scene had grown into a community, there’s your answer.

Sherman told me that he had wanted to do a coffee stout for a long time that really highlighted the coffee (for those wondering, he also roasts his own beans at home).

The key was in how they were able to infuse the coffee — specially selected Kenyan Kabingara AA beans — into the beer.

Sherman said the process was like running the beer through a giant French press.

The Phil & Sebastian blog breaks down the process quite nicely.

Historically, coffee beers have been made in a number of ways: by adding ground coffee to the boil, the mash tun, or the fermentor, or even by brewing coffee with water and then adding that solution to the fermentor. From our point of view, these methods fall short — both in theory and in results — of an ideal extraction. The boil kettle is too hot, the mash tun is not hot enough, and the fermentor is way too cold. By brewing coffee with water, you end up either watering down the beer or not adding sufficient coffee flavour.

To ensure we achieved a proper extraction and brew strength, we approached the problem as if we were making a massive cup of coffee — only using beer instead of water. We used a brew ratio of 17:1 by weight, which ended up being 180 lbs of coffee! We infused the sweet, unfermented beer (called wort at this stage) with the coffee after the boil, but before it was chilled down to room temperature to ferment, allowing us to extract at an optimal temperature. Before diving right into the full-sized batch, we brewed several small-scale test batches on Tool Shed’s home-brew rig (which actually is in a tool shed) and were able to dial in the grind setting and contact time to give us the flavour profile were looking for. In particular, we found that by adjusting our grind setting we were able to really maximize acid quality, much in the same way we would when dialing in coffees on our brew bar.

The beer was launched Tuesday at Phil & Sebastian’s Mission location, where it will be exclusively available until May 2. From there, it will be on tap at the Calgary International Beerfest May 2 and 3 at the BMO Centre, and the Edmonton Craft Beer Festival June 6 and 7 at the Northlands EXPO Centre.

It’s definitely a beer worth trying, and not just because it’s helping a worthy cause (training future brewers). It’s a rich beer that truly highlights the coffee without taking away from the beer.

“It walks that line really well,” Sherman said.

It has a nice malty nose, but hits you with deep, rich coffee flavour on the palate, and has a creamy, lingering finish. It clocks in at 7% abv, and, for those who are keeping track, 42 IBU.