What I am Excited About: An Update On Our Growing Scene

It has been a while since I have written a post about one of the new Alberta craft breweries. I think that my last one was on Trolley 5. So what I plan on doing here is to write a post on the new local breweries that I am particularly excited about.

Bench Creek

A beautiful beer amid beautiful surroundings.

These guys caught my attention at National 17’s Winter Cask Off. Their Milk Stout cask ale was rich & delicious. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to think that because they took the belt for best cask that night.

After that I made a point to try out all of their beers at Banff Beer Festival . And you know what? I really enjoyed everything that they had to offer. Warren (another Old’s College grad) really knows his way around a brewery. In fact, I would put their White Raven right up there with the Last Best IPA as the best ones in the province IMO.

Edson is definitely on my radar as a future road trip destination so that I can check out their scenic destination brewery.

Blind Man

The tap room at Blindman brewery where you can sit down for a beer or grab a growler to go.

The tap room at Blindman brewery where you can sit down for a beer or grab a growler to go.

I have been following these Lacombe guys since their start up process because I know and respect Shayne from Edmonton Beer Geeks Anonymous. I have been quite pleased with what they have been putting out so far. Their River Session Ale is one of my favourite session ales with its light body, low ABV and punch of fruity favour and aroma from their late hop additions and generous dry-hopping. I am also quite a big fan of their Kettle Sour #1. Its tart taste and incredible dry hop aroma (can’t go wrong with a little mosaic & galaxy mix) make it a really refreshing patio beer. I should mention that both of these recently won awards at the Canadian Brewing Awards that was held in Vancouver.

Troubled Monk

The artwork on the wall in the Troubled Monk tasting room.

The artwork on the wall in the Troubled Monk tasting room.

A few clicks south of Blind Man in Red Deer resides a really cool little brewery called Troubled Monk. Head Brewer Garret Haynes (yet another alumnus from the Old’s program) has been doing a great job of showing everyone just how good local beer can be. These guys made a really big splash when they took a silver medal at the World Beer Cup for their robust and hoppy Open Road American Brown Ale. Now this was a huge deal for the brewery but it was also great for the whole scene in general. This is a major award that carries weight all over; so you can say that Troubled Monk has put Alberta on the map for global craft beer fans.

Keep your eyes peeled for Pesky Pig (their American Pale Ale) this is on tap at my local pub, The Pig and Duke and has become one of my “go to beers” there.

Banded Peak

banded-peak-brewery

Go check these guys out, you will not regret it.

Now I will come right out and say it, this is my favourite of the new YYC craft breweries. This is MY opinion remember?! Their hoppy Plainsbreaker ale takes a style that I am not particularly fond of, the American Wheat Ale and makes it wonderfully fragrant and flavourful. They achieved this by packing it with generous amounts of Citra, Amarillo & Summit late hop additions and through dry hopping. Expect vibrant and fresh notes of citrus and passion fruit from this one. If you are a fan of Jerkface 9000 you will enjoy this beer.

They have a pretty sweet little tap room at the brewery that I highly recommend checking out. It is right off of MacLeod Trail at Unit 119 519 34 Ave SE. You can relax with a few beers and watch all of the activity taking place in the brewery.

Honourable Mentions

I am going to mention a few new spots that I have not been able to explore as much as I would like to but am pumped about from what I have been able to check out.

I have been hearing nothing but good things about YEG’s Situation Brewing Co. I was lucky enough to try a pint of their IPA at National 10 which made my afternoon meeting REALLY enjoyable!  And rumour has it that their Afternooner Tea Saison is the bees knees/cat’s pajamas/donkey’s sombrero (okay I made that last one up).

Half Hitch Brewing Co. has recently started pumping out beer from their home in Cochrane. I’m happy to see them open their doors because they have built this facility from the ground up; much of it was done by the Heir family themselves. I was able to sample their brown ale Shotgun Wedding which I thought was quite different from the norm. I am eager to try out their other two brands and see phase two of their plan; a restaurant, open up.

In conclusion, it is obvious that there are lots of new breweries opening (or in the planning stages of opening) in Alberta. I am finding it quite difficult to keep up with all of them! Some of these new ones have proven to be really great & I am excited to see where they will take us. Some I am less enthusiastic about. When something is popular and in the early growing stage there will always be those who seek to simply “jump on the trend”. However, the market should weed those out who have no real knowledge or passion. But hey, let’s celebrate the good and raise a cheers to local craft beer!

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