Macros and Micros and Nanos, Oh My!

The word is out that a teacher (Ben), a chemist (Derek), a baker/chef (Dylan) and one of their friends (anonymous at this time) have started Alberta’s very 1st nanobrewery: The Dandy Brewing Company . What I aim to do with this article is to shed some light on what this ground-breaking decision entails for craft beer in Alberta.

Why Choose This Path?

Some people may be wondering why a group of men with decent jobs have decided to dedicate their spare time to starting a brewery. Well, it comes down to one word really….Passion!

These guys have been homebrewing for some time now, some of them are actually fellow Cowtown Yeast Wranglers. So the interest in crafting beer has been a part of them for a while. Derek is so fascinated by it that he will be starting the Olds College Brewmaster & Brewery Operations Management program next year.

Dandy Ales First Brew

Here’s an image from their first professional brew day. Brewing is something that they enjoy doing. Photos of the nano are courtesy of the dandy gents themselves

Throw in a love for craft beer; particularly the well balanced styles coming out of the UK and you have a crew that wants to add to our local craft beer scene.

What they propose on doing is something that has done wonders for the craft beer revolution in the US (particularly Portland). They are going to introduce Alberta to the wonders of a nanobrewery.

Explaining the Nano

A nanobrewery is a scaled down brewery that brews batches of beer that can be measured in the hundreds of litres rather than hectolitres. Most of the time it involves a few (or even one) entrepreneurs who want to take their passion for homebrewing and turn it into a small commercial enterprise.

Here’s an example to help get a better picture.  The Townhouse Brewpub & Eatery converted some 50 litre kegs into kettles to create a system that brews approximately 40 litre batches.

The Townhouse

The Townhouse Brewpub & Eatery in Nova Scotia. Photo courtesy of e-dining

Seeing successful nanobreweries and talking to some of the people involved like the guys at Idle Hands in Boston showed them that their dream was possible.

Support From The Local Community

Since they’ll be Alberta’s 1st nanobrewery there aren’t too many people nearby that they could go to for help on certain issues.

That being said, the local Alberta brewing community has been very supportive. The guys over at Tool Shed, Fallentimber Meadery & Last Best have been very generous with their time & advice.  And Al, who is one of the partners at Village Brewery, was able to sell them some used brewing equipment which they modified to create their 3 barrel system by cutting the tanks in half.

Dandy Ales Nanobrewery

The Dandy nanobrewery setup.

It’s definitely been a learning experience. But now Dandy will be able to guide others who are serious about heading down the nano path here in Wild Rose Country.

Beer Me

The Dandy Brewing Co. will start off with 2 staple beers:

Dandy in the Underworld Sweet Oyster Stout will be a nicely balanced traditional oyster stout. I can’t wait to have this with some oysters!

Their second beer will be Golden Brown Dandy Ale (GBD). This English style pale ale will have a strong malt backbone to stand up to the frequent addition of UK and N. American hops throughout the boil.

Dandy Ales Brewing Company Logo

This logo was designed by a local artist. Keep your eyes open for it around town.

Eventually this roster will grow to include more beer styles; plus they will be brewing seasonals to keep us on our toes. These seasonals will be the more quirky experimental style of beers that have become popular in N. America.

And on top of all of this they will have a heavy focus on cask ales.

A Little Info on Cask Ales

Cask ale events are something that most of you have probably attended or at least heard about. But what exactly is cask ale and how is it different from any other beer?

Cask ale is the traditional way of brewing beer before the use of gas (CO2 & N2) was introduced to the process of dispensing beer.  Once primary fermentation is complete the unfiltered beer is placed in a cask to mature.

During maturation the beer undergoes a secondary fermentation. This is because there is still some yeast left in the beer. Sometimes brewers will also add priming sugars or new yeast to enhance the conditioning (remember yeast eats sugars then pees out alcohol & CO2).

It is quite common in N. America to add different ingredients (dry hopping, etc) at this point to change the flavour of the beer.

Once the cask arrives at its destination it should be given sufficient time to rest since the yeast will still be working & needs to settle at the bottom of the cask. If the cask is kept in a cellar at a temperature of 8 to 14 degrees Celsius it should take somewhere around 24 to 48 hours for the beer to clarify.

During this period the Cask should be vented so as to release excess carbonation until the desired level, as determined by a good cellarman, is reached.

Tapping the Cask

Tapping the cask at The Libertine Public House. They used gravity dispense to pour our pints that night.

Now it is ready to be tapped & served to thirsty beer enthusiasts like you and I via a beer engine (aka handpump) or gravity dispense. Interested in learning more? Talk to Rachel she’s an expert.


Now that they have received their license to brew beer in Alberta from the AGLC (on International IPA Day none the less) I can’t help but feel excited to see their beer at one of the local pubs. When that does happen I look forward to raising a cheers to local craft beer with a pint from our first nanobrewery!

5 thoughts on “Macros and Micros and Nanos, Oh My!

    • Ya, things are really exciting here at the moment. We’re working hard on creating a great beer culture out here. What you guys have over in BC is a fantastic model of just how incredible it can be.

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