Or, Armchair Travels in Good Taste
Without the freedom to travel as we please, it seems the whole world is getting antsy. We always miss what we can’t have.
But at least, with craft beer, we can still enjoy the taste of traveling beyond our regional limitations - until global supply chain collapses cause material shortages.
Okay, stay calm, please don’t panic buy! Beer will survive! That was a joke (mostly).
Good old beer has seen us through plagues, pandemics and other natural disasters worldwide since the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs (~ 5000 years ago). It was favoured in medieval times as a safe alternative to potentially contaminated drinking water. (With credit to Heartland Brewery for the historic fact checks - https://www.heartlandbrewery.com/history-of-beer/)
Alberta’s craft brewing history is much shorter but in recent years the industry has boomed thanks to regulatory changes and targeted incentives. But who cares why? The more important thing is, we have so much more to choose from just within Alberta, and what better time to get really acquainted with the quaff close to home?
Over the course of my media travels around the province I’ve made a point to sample the local craft whenever I can, which has led to many satisfying discoveries.
So here’s a little virtual road trip around #Albeerta, drawing on some of those recent experiences - or as I like to call it:
See no evil, hear no evil, taste no evil
*I realize this is far from exhaustive, just some of my favourite discoveries; for more, check out the links below.
South to North
Medicine Hat - Hell’s Basement Brewery: Alberta’s most literary brew co. name comes from Rudyard Kipling, who gave this nickname to the Hat after a visit there. And they’ve got a pretty Heffeweizen with a name I love: He Ain’t Jefe, He’s my Brother.
Calgary - Cabin Brewing’s Super Saturation NEIPA has a peppery summer tingle to it, and a can design that wins the retro feelgood vibe of the year award. (Top photo.) - Banded Peak’s Javalanche is a smooth coffee stout that feels just right for a lazy summer breakfast substitution (okay, brunch) or evening by the fireside.
Lacombe - Blindman Brewing can do no evil, as far as I’m concerned (see photographic proof), and continues to nail it with every new release. I’m a super fan of their Summer Session series.
Sylvan Lake - Snake Lake Brewing’s Sidewinder IPA is one of my favourite recent discoveries. IPA done just right, and approachable enough for even the occasional IPA drinker.
Edmonton - SYC’s Farm Table Saison is my top thirst-quencher of spring 2020, so far. A beer that feels sophisticated and yet down home. - Bent Stick Brewing has wowed me with their barrel-aged witbier and some of their special releases.
East to West
Lac La Biche - Fat Unicorn’s Russian Imperial Stout was the beer highlight of my winter ski roadie for #SkiNorthAB. They even made a float out of it, which was my first time trying beer and ice cream together, and it was surprisingly good!
Edson - Apex Predator is another dependable fave AB brewer (I pick up a 4-pack pretty much every Jasper ski weekend), and their collaborations with other AB breweries have been especially good.
Hinton - Folding Mountain Brewing may well have the prettiest brewery location in Alberta, and too many great beers to list just one. (But stay tuned - I intend to revisit this one soon.)
Although I claim some knowledge of beer and spirits from my work, writing and travels, I recognize that I’m still an amateur. For better and more extensive coverage on beer, here and elsewhere, check out these other great resources.
* More Alberta beer resources: