While in the car on my way to the Kananaskis Craft Beer Fest my spirits were exceptionally high. How could I not be in a good mood when I know that I am about to sample some great Alberta craft beer while enjoying this incredible scenery? There is something about the Rockies that just makes me happy to be in Alberta. They can keep all of the sandy beaches and tropical weather because my heart belongs in the mountains.
The craft beer festival was held in a large outdoor tent in Kananaskis village near the Delta Lodge. Now, this was not just any tent. This tent was souped-up! It had heating, a sound system for some music, a food station offering tasty eats from the BBQ outside and of course, numerous beer stalls. The setting was more intimate than most beer fests. This was a benefit because it really allows you to talk to some of the people from the local breweries.
Meeting Banff Avenue Brewing Company’s Kent Paterson
Banff Avenue Brewing Co was there in force with four of their beers on tap. I had already enjoyed their Czuggers & Lower Bankhead Black Pilsners at the YYC Oktoberfest the prior week. One of their other offerings was Stubble Jumper Saskatoon Berry. This had a nice fruity flavour that was not too dominant, so you know that you are still drinking beer. Their other tap handle was Head Smashed in IPA. Now, as I have mentioned before, I am something of a hop head, so this ale was right down my alley. In fact, this was my choice for the one full beer at the end of my day.
Kent Paterson, the Head Brewer over at Banff Ave., was on-site and talking to all of us beer geeks. After talking to Kent about the brewpub in Banff and their sister brewpub in Jasper, I made a promise to myself that I would take one weekend to visit both of these locations and spend time hiking in the Rockies. No date has been set as of today, but this is something that I will be blogging about.
Grizzly Paw Brewing Company: Alberta Craft Beer Pioneers
Another major event supporter was The Grizzly Paw Brewing Co. I was able to talk to their Sales Manager Darren McJannet while enjoying some Rutting Elk Red and Powder Hound Pilsner. It was fascinating to talk about how the craft beer scene has evolved in Alberta. Grizzly Paw was one of the forefathers of Alberta Microbreweries. Back in 1996 it would’ve taken a lot of guts and vision to open up a brewpub in Canmore. When you look at the state of the industry today it is obvious that Niall Fraser’s grit paid off.
Darren’s descriptions of the new microbrewery and rustic restaurant nestled in the mountains sold me on another weekend venture that I will have to take. It looks like I am going to be spending lots of time in the Rockies!
Pumpkin Pie Ale from Alley Kat: A Solid Fall Beer
I was happy to see that Edmonton’s Alley Kat Brewing Co had sent down some bottles for the event. They were represented by a local guy from Canmore. I find it really cool how people in the craft beer community will step up and lend a helping hand just because they are passionate about good beer.
Alley Kat’s Pumpkin Pie Ale was definitely one of my tasting highlights. I love the taste of pumpkin pie and when an ale uses the right amount of these spices it can be a beautiful thing. Try one after a long afternoon of raking up leaves, trust me, you will not be disappointed.
Monkey’s Fist: Big Rock’s Best IPA
Another high-point was spotting a family of deer feeding right outside of the event tent. This is not a regular occurrence at beer festivals. Pink elephants have been spotted from time-to-time but not too many deer. This sighting took place while enjoying a Monkey’s Fist Royal IPA from Big Rock Brewery and talking to the cheery Big Rock rep. Monkey’s Fist is a new release from Big Rock and their best IPA, in my opinion. The generous use of hops is blended with a nice caramel malt to bring about a flavourful, but easy to drink, India Pale Ale.
Overall my experience at the first Kananaskis Craft Beer Festival was a memorable one (despite all of the beer I consumed!) I met some great people and was inspired to add on some more beer-related journeys up in mountain country. I look forward to my next venture out there.
Until next time, cheers to local craft beer!