It’s funny how you can find inspiration to write about something. I have been mulling over different article topics for weeks. Yet all that it took was having an eventful day and boom, I knew what I wanted to say. This might come across as pointless to some but I think that this day, which was focused on beer of course, is a good indicator of how much our beer scene has grown over the last couple of years. I hope that you agree.
A Simple Work Meeting
Since I work in the beer industry it should not be surprising that many of my business meetings take place at bars and involve pints of beer. This meeting in particular included Graham Sherman. Now, some of you might not know that this is one of the owners/founders of Tool Shed because he tends to be very shy and quiet 😉 We met at my local pub, the Pig & Duke to speak with the owner. During the course of our meeting we discussed the explosion of new breweries in the province and how difficult it is to keep up with them.
While we were talking about this I had two excellent beers. Both of these happened to be from local breweries. For the record they were Bench Creek’s Naked Woodsman Pale Ale and Last Best’s Dirty Bird Dark Lager. That might not seem like a big deal but when you take into consideration that these were on a list along with Common Crown, Big Rock, Tool Shed & Village as well as imported heavy hitters like Deschutes (one of my favourite breweries), Steamworks & Bridge it is kind of impressive. Especially, when you think about how different that selection would have been three years ago.
A Collaboration to Take Note of
Once my work day was done I met up with my buddy Brett Hopper (the beer guy for Bench Creek Brewing) at Trolley 5 to try out their new beer. This beer was a massive Double IPA called Kaiju Killer. The aroma of stone fruit and citrus just leaps right out of the glass to greet you as you dive in for a sip. The specs on this bad boy state that the ABV is way up there at 8.9% but your taste buds will argue with that because it sure doesn’t drink like a beer over 8%!!! This is what I like to call a “dangerous beer” because it drinks really easy and packs a big punch.
The main reason that I am bringing this up is not solely because it was a great beer. It is because of who they collaborated with to make this DIPA. This beer was brewed with Portland’s (or America’s Beer Mecca) Gigantic Brewing . These guys are major players in the US craft beer scene and consistently put out fantastic beers. If you have never tried Gigantic IPA you should do yourself a favour and go grab one…now!
It just strikes me as really cool that Ben Love and his lovely wife Andrea (who used to brew at Wild Rose) would decide to come to collaborate on a beer with one of our local breweries. I know that Ernie & PJ are well connected in the beer industry but I also think that this could be a sign that people outside of our province are starting to take note of our growing craft beer scene.
Dinner at the Barracks
Hopper and I then made our way over to the Currie Barracks for the Wild Rose beer dinner. Upon our arrival I was blown away by how packed the room was. Supposedly there was upwards of 80 people (including my friend Haydon from The Daily Beer) who showed up to enjoy the four course meal paired with four different beers. This included two seasonal releases. The dark saison, Shady Character and the Blushing Brew which was a blend of Cowbell (a kettle sour) and kombucha from Wild Tea Kombucha.
To see that many people come out to enjoy this kind of culinary experience was reassuring. Educating people on how well beer and food can go together is something that I am very passionate about. So it puts a big smile on my face to see others showing an interest in it.
There are many of these dinners taking place at restaurants around the province. They are great events that put the spotlight on beer and food pairings. However, I encourage everyone to pair a beer with their food on a regular basis. It does not always have to be at an event, you can do this at home or whenever you go out for dinner. Garret Oliver (the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery ) wrote a fascinating book on the subject that is a valuable resource for anyone interested in this; it is called The Brewmaster’s Table. Or you can always ask a knowledgeable server for some advice.
I hope that this article has done what I want it to do and serves as a good representation of how much the beer scene has advanced here in Alberta. We are still quite young and are currently going through a growth spurt. With that comes growing pains so I am not saying that everything is perfect, you can refer to some of my previous posts to see that I believe that we have a lot more work to do ahead of us. However, there is no doubt in my mind that we have made some major strides over the past few years. So everyone, let’s celebrate the wins and raise a cheers to local craft beer!