Attending craft beer festivals pays off! Like I mentioned in my post on the Kananaskis Craft Beer Fest not only do you get to taste premium beers, you get to meet a lot of interesting people. One of the guys that I spoke to at the festival was Kent Paterson, the head brewer at Banff Avenue Brewing Company. Kent told me that he was coming to Calgary on Saturday so we got to hang out for a while to talk about Banff Ave. and the craft beer scene in Alberta.
Nightrider RCDA: A Craft Beer Collaboration
Kent brought over some of Banff Avenue’s new release, “Nightrider RCDA” (Rye Cascadian Dark Ale), which was brewed in collaboration with Terrapin Brewery. Terrapin is an American microbrewery located in Athens, Georgia and is regarded as one of the 25 best craft breweries in the USA according to Jimmy Carbone, the host of Beer Sessions Radio.
I have blogged about enjoying Banff Avenue’s beers before; so when Kent told me that he considered this to be one of their best brews, my anticipation level spiked.
It seems that Terrapin and Banff Avenue share a mutual acquaintance in the craft beer community. Banff Ave.’s malt guy is friends with the brewers at Terrapin Brewery (small world). They thought that it might be fun to get together and see what they could come up with. Spike Buckowski, Terrapin’s brewmaster, traveled up to Banff and they got the creative juices flowing.
What they came up with is a giant of a Rye Cascadian Dark Ale that was brewed using all Canadian malt and all American hops. With the abundance of grains available in Western Canada and some of the best hop varieties growing in states like Washington, this formula seems like the right path to follow.
The story behind the name “Nightrider” has to do with the brewing process. On the day of the brew the burner was having some issues. This delayed the process and the brew ended up being an all nighter! On the bright side of things, it also gave them a cool name to christen these bad boys with.
Sticking to the beer label (hell ya that’s a pun!) I really get a kick out of how the rearing horse throws the rider back into a perfect chugging stance. I have not tried this stunt out yet. And that is probably for the best. Because if I had; I probably wouldn’t be physically capable of typing this post.
The ale stays true to its name and pours out black as the night. One of my favorite things about craft beer is the nose, a quality beer will deliver flavour notes through their scent just like a vintage wine, single malt scotch or a plate of fine cuisine. But the flavour party does not stop at your nose, once you take a sip the real treat begins. The cascade hops let their presence be known but they do not dominate, the rye malt counters with some rich, sweetness to round off the flavour and leaves a velvety sensation in your mouth.
I was really impressed to learn that proceeds from this beer would be donated to charity. Kent informed me that the owners over at Bear Hill Brewing Company are very involved in the local community and donate to charity frequently.
Mile Zero IIPA: A great Double IPA for a great cause
This conversation led to the other beer that Kent brought over, “Mile Zero IIPA” from Jasper Brewing Company, another Bear Hill brewpub. The story behind this double IPA has to do with the Jasper Fire Chief, Greg Van Tighem, whom is an avid cyclist. Every year he does the ride to raise money for the cure to Multiple Sclerosis. Since Greg’s favourite beer is an IPA, Jasper Brewing Co. decided to release Mile Zero IIPA to help support the charity. Five dollars from every bottle sold will go to the End MS Fund.
After tasting Mile Zero I am confident that this will raise a good amount of money. It has everything that a proper IIPA should have. An explosively fresh nose full of citrus and floral notes greet you when you move in for a sip. The flavour follows up with a burst of hops that is just what we hopheads crave.
What the future has in store for Bear Hill Brewing Company
Bear Hill Brewing Co. will be bringing their motto “Creating Community-Focused Beer Culture” to two new locations opening up in Calgary and Grand Prairie sometime in the future. Each of these brewpubs are different from their sister operations. Kent told me that the Stout and ESB are the only shared beers brewed in Banff Avenue, Jasper and Wood Buffalo. Otherwise the brewmasters are able to fully express themselves creatively. So, your eating and drinking experience will be different when you go for a night out at any one of these brewpubs.
I know that I am excited to see how the Calgary location (local for me) will develop their unique flavour.
Until the next time, cheers to local craft beer!