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To-ings and Fro-ings on the Beer Scene

Photo Courtesy Global Edmonton

Interesting news on a few fronts in the Edmonton Beer Scene that I would be remiss if I didn’t relay.

In what may be the most concerning news, Amber’s Brewing has, on short notice, been informed that the rent at their 99 Street brewery location is going to be tripled, forcing them to quickly find a new location for their brewery. You can read the Edmonton Journal story that broke the news here. Jim Gibbons had mentioned this to me in passing a couple of months ago, but at the time was hopeful he could work something out with the landlord, so I trusted it would all be alright. I guess I was wrong.

The timing is particularly bad for Amber’s, what with the beginnings of the busy summer season. Even if he finds a place to move, I suspect production will be down for at least a couple of weeks (maybe longer?) while equipment gets broken down, transferred and set up again. These are the kind of headaches small brewers have to contend with on a regular basis, as they simply don’t have the bargaining leverage of the bigger boys.

On the good news front, however, the soon-to-be open Underground Tap and Grill on Jasper and 100 Street released its beer menu this week. They are offering 72 taps (12 of which will be constantly rotating) with a full range of styles, locations and  beer “seriousness”. Rather than tell you what they offer, you can check it yourself from the menu included in their press release. They will also have a short bottle list as well, which will accent missing pieces on the tap list. In the interests of transparency, I should indicate that a couple months ago they asked me to review a draft list and offer suggestions. I can safely say the bulk of what you see today was already there, and they readily accepted most of the tweaks I recommended. I also helped clean up the categorization of the beer. So I have had some sense of what was coming for awhile.

Regardless, it is a good list. I particularly like their division into levels, as it allows for some distinguishing between interpretations of styles (e.g. Brockton IPA vs. Corne Du Diable – both IPAs but worlds apart). The BIG question for them will be whether they can move sufficient quantities of 72 different (often overlapping in profile) beer. For readers of this site, it will be one of only two or three places in town where we will be able to spend an entire evening never drinking the same beer twice.

And since I am talking news, I should offer the latest beer releases for the prairies while I am at it:

  • Alley Kat Yellow Dragon, the latest in their single-hop Double IPA series, hit the streets last week. Yellow Dragon uses the experimental HBC 342 variety. Extensive research (5-minutes scanning websites) suggests that this high-alpha hop has a citrusy flavour and a soft aroma with fruity, candy accents. Hopefully a few bottles will remain when I get home in a couple weeks.
  • This week Calgary’s Wild Rose releases its latest seasonal, just in time for the summer heat. Hoodoo Hefe is a traditional German Hefeweizen which will work its way around the province in the coming weeks.
  • In just over a week, the latest version of the occasional Phil’s Pils will be released at the Half Pints Brewery in Winnipeg. No word on whether it will reach Saskatchewan or Alberta shores (I trust it will). In the past, this beer has always straddle that line between a Bohemian and a German Pilsner, making it an always intriguing quaff.

Funny how the beer world doesn’t stop just because I am not in the region. Go figure.

7 comments to To-ings and Fro-ings on the Beer Scene

  • SDot

    Jason – Have you seen that MKT has opened up on Gateway, just south of White.

    Here is their beer menu, its surprisingly heavy on the macros, with prominent offerings from InBev and MillerCoors, but good to see some local brews being presented.

  • Liam

    I just happened to stumble across the Blog and must say that I will be returning on a regular basis! I recently had a bottle of the Alley Kat Black Dragon, so I’m eager to try this new Dragon as well. I’ll have to make a beer run ASAP.

    Anyways, thanks for the blog and I look forward to catching up on your old posts and reading the new!

  • Darrell

    Hmm, I don’t know SDot, seems a bit pricey…for the genuinely good ones at least-although I notice they have Alley Kat’s Full Moon & Amber(not to mention Paddock Wood’s 606, etc). But $11.75 for a 330ml Orval? Or worse imho, $13.75 for the Rocheforts(6, 8 or 10)? If I recall correctly, the Rochefort 10 I’m in the process of aging,cost me under $7 at Keg’n’Cork last month. True, the St. Bernardus Abt. 12 & Delirium Tremens are only $9.25…on tap, no less. But I have a problem with a $15 La Fin Du Monde-true, a 750ml but…, when I can pick one up at Liquor Depot for roughly $8. Seems to me they’re kind of encouraging drinking at home, as I see it at least.

  • Matt Sander

    National Beer Hall is selling $7.50 bombers of Hop Stoopid for $20. The ridiculous price of beer in Alberta rarely shocks me anymore.

  • Thanks for the heads up SDot. Interesting how the American craft beer revolution apparently NEVER HAPPENED looking at both the menus. Underground has Anchor Liberty and Rogue Dead Guy at least. MKT has Sam Adams but that’s about it. Some would consider Alberta as part of the Pacific Northwest but you would never know it from pub menus. Rogue, Lagunitas, Pike – lots of possibilities. MKT’s beer guru, Roger Mittag, is based in Toronto – perhaps he needs to look at a map.

  • Okay, I didn’t see Ommegang Hennepin at MKT. Still, could do with fewer Europeans and macros and more west coast pale ales and IPAs.

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