There are views and then there are VIEWS. Standing on the balcony at the Banff Inn and looking at the scenery, I could not be more content. Staring at the Rockies and anticipating my night of eating & drinking freshly brewed Alberta craft beers; I just could’t ask for more.
The Main Strip
Walking down Banff Ave. you have to marvel at how the town blends with the splendor of the mountains. There are not too many main streets out there that offer this kind of experience.
I could see that Banff Avenue Brewing Co. was getting into the Halloween spirit when I spotted the Clocktower Village Mall. The mixture of patrons with ghouls on their balcony was a dead give away that the Banff Ave crew would be having some fun with the fall tradition.
Inside the Brewpub
Once inside I grabbed a pint of the weekly cask ale. Banff Ave. taps a different cask every Friday for craft beer lovers to come and experiment. This one was a “Buck Lake Chocolate Chai Cream Ale”. The use of the chai spicing was not overpowering, it blended nicely with the chocolate and malt flavour to deliver a delicious fall ale.
I met up with Kent and he showed me around their brewing space in the back where all of the magic happens! They have a nice set up for craft brewing. It is smaller than a microbrewery but big enough to supply the steady stream of regulars and tourists with quality craft beers.
I made my way thought the crowd to order another beer at the bar. The place was buzzing with activity to get ready for the Unity Brew that would be taking place the next day; but more on that subject later.
I went with the “Reverand Rundle Stout” this time. This dark offering was infused with nitrogen to give it a creamy texture that feels wonderful in your mouth. The taste comes off much smoother than Guinness (one of my early favourites). The dark roasted malts really take to the hard water profile from the glacial water that is used in all of Banff Avenue’s brews.
I was really impressed with the menu; not only did it include notable pub-grub faves, it also offered a variety of unique dishes. I ordered the banana and panko crusted chicken with a curry sauce. I was not disappointed.
I sipped a “Brewer’s Oar Cream Ale” while I chowed down. The addition of nitrogen was also used in this ale to lend it a creamier feel. The malty flavours went down well with the meal.
Alberta Microbrewery Unity Brew
I stopped by the brewpub the next morning to catch a glimpse of the 5th annual Unity Brew in action. Basically every brewery in Alberta sent a rep to this collaboration. If you scan my Alberta Microbrewery Profiles page & randomly select one, the chances are that they were present.
Banff Ave. laid out a hearty breakfast buffet to fuel the creative process for the day. There were also bottles from all of the Alberta craft breweries in attendance so that these guys could share the fruits of their labour with their fellow brewers. That is a major part of what Unity Brew is all about, bringing all of these brewers together so that they can work together and promote the local craft beer revolution.
For this year’s Unity Brew they were brewing an Imperial Russian Stout. A mixture of of 5 toasted malts were being used to give the stout some depth and dark colouration.
I have no doubt that this will be an excellent brew to enjoy in the upcoming winter months (wait a minute, winter is already here!) The higher alcohol percentage will help warm you up on those cold nights.
To top it off the proceeds will be going towards the fight against MS, so you’ll be drinking for a good cause. It always makes me feel better when I know that I am boozing to benefit society!
Keep your eyes peeled for the Unity Brew to go on sale at select location across Alberta in the upcoming weeks. This will be something that every craft beer lover will want to try.
Part two of this craft beer road tip takes place in Jasper so stay tuned.
Until next time, cheers to local craft beer!