Wild Rose Country is seeing some big changes in their craft beer scene. For instance, Wild Rose Brewing Company (the first Alberta microbrewery that I fell for) has made some major moves recently. They opened up a new brewery, launched a different marketing campaign and of course, brewed more new beers for us to taste. Ya, 2014 is shaping up to be a good year for us Alberta craft beer hounds.
The New Brewery
I was able to attend the new brewery launch party that Wild Rose threw once their South East location was up & running. While there I got to check out their new pad and brewing setup.
This new brewery had been planned for a while. They had reached their maximum capacity at the Currie Barracks microbrewery and needed a little more leg room if they were going to meet the increased demand for their tasty brewskies. Learning that their lease was expiring at that location only made them move faster. And more space is exactly what they got. While partying it up at the new brewery launch it was hard not to notice just how huge this new space is. But this is not wasted space (although I was slightly wasted while in that space) there’s a nice & shiny new brewing system that will be pumping out 60 hectolitre batches for us eager fans.
The new brewery will be producing the majority of their beers. Their biggest sellers: Velvet Fog, Wraspberry Ale and IPA will all be crafted there. As will the other beers that make up their regular lineup such as SOB, Read Wheat & their 1st lager, Electric Avenue (your totally singing the song aren’t you). Their seasonals and most of their casks will also be originating from this new brewing system.
The New Look
Along with the new brewery comes a new marketing launch for their bottles, packaging, site and ads. When I asked Brian Smith, the Director of Brewery Operations, about this he told me that with all of the changes being made it just seemed like the right time.
Plus it does look pretty awesome. I like how they used an open barn motif to convey the “wild” character that is so much a part of this province & the microbrewery. If you haven’t checked out their new website yet you should. There is a little Alberta trivia game that will give you something to do for a few minutes and who knows, you may learn something new.
The Currie Barracks
Their microbrewery and taproom at the Currie Barracks will stay open for as long as they’re able to keep it there. They are currently scouting out a new location; hopefully it will remain in the barracks. The taproom is a really popular hangout for local beer geeks and tourists alike. The historical feel of the old air force hangar, photographs and memorabilia give you the sense that there has been many a story told over a good pint right where you’re sitting.
The old brewing setup (I love the look of those copper kettles) will continue to brew batches of their more experimental craft beer offerings and one-offs. The weekly casks at the taproom on Fridays will continue to be offered. Some of these casks will be brewed there as well.
As much as I love the Wild Rose IPA or a pint of Wraspberry Ale on the patio during a hot summer’s day, it is the seasonal beers that I live for. And Wild Rose does not disappoint when it comes to releasing experimental delights!
The Cherry Porter is their most popular and well known seasonal release and this dark, rich cold-weather battling beauty is something that we can look forward to every year. But wait, there’s more…
Life on Mars
If you have not tried this French farmhouse ale, go out and pick one up! This is a take on the Northern France Biere de Mars (Google translated into “beer of March”) was brewed to quench the thirst of local farmhands. It delivers a full, unfiltered 8.2% flavour punch to your palate. I rather enjoyed the way that the lime leaves played off of the citrus and passion fruit from the New Zealand Pacific Jade hops.
This will be a session pale ale, so it’ll be an easy drinking pale ale that you would be able to stick with for pint after pint. The twist to this session beer is that it will be single hopped with Galaxy. Galaxy is a hop variety that is grown down under in Australia. Expect some major citrus & passion fruit from this bad boy coming out this spring.
For the summer Wild Rose is kicking it old school by brewing up this traditional farmhouse ale that was first brewed by Finnish peasants back in the 16th Century!
It is comprised of a variety of both malted and unmalted grains (sometimes bread was used). Once the mashing stage was complete the mash was transferred to a kuurna (wooden trough) and filtered through juniper twigs which acted as a filter. The wort re-circulation and sparge through these juniper twigs gave the beer a juniper flavour which was used in place of hops.
Expect this unfiltered beer to have some serious body (since it is not boiled) to it with a taste of banana along with some tartness.
With the start of fall comes that exciting glass boot chugging festival from Germany that we all love, Oktoberfest! Wild Rose plans to have a Marzen (March, since it was brewed during that month) ready in time for us to enjoy during this most festive of times. I look forward to enjoying some of this full-bodied, toasty & rich beer next Calgary Oktoberfest while watching the Oompah Band perform “Ein Prosit”!
Keep your eyes open for small batch releases at the taproom from Wild Rose’s experimental barrel aging program. The effect that aging your beer in oak barrels has is quite incredible, I am a big fan of this and hope to see the trend continue to grow in Alberta.
Hopefully I’ll see you at the taproom for a pint soon but until then cheers to local craft beer!