It may not feel or look like spring around the prairies quite yet. The blanket of snow and iffy temperatures have completely stymied my plans to do a March brew session, for example. However, beer people less weather dependent than clearly believe that spring is here, given the spate of new releases and upcoming beer events. There is quite the late March crush of news. So let me get right to it:
- Wild Rose is (TODAY – March 21) launching its spring seasonal, Natural Born Keller. Aside from having a wonderfully clever name (I chuckle every time I read it), it is also quite the frankenstein of a beer. They claim it to be a hybrid between a California Common (Steam Beer) and a Bock then treated like a German Kellerbier (meaning it is unfiltered and underwent some cold lagering). Deftly calling it a California-style Keller Bock (at least they didn’t make it “Imperial” – Wait! I likely just gave them an idea for next year!) they sidestep the natural questions about merging the hop-accented Steam Beer with the malty Bock. Also, I know I like Kellerbier, as they offer an old-school flavour profile. So, we will see what this is like.
- Alley Kat is next up on March 25 with their spring/summer seasonal release, Summer Squeeze Grapefruit Ale. You read that right, grapefruit. Given the popularity of Steigl Radler in the summers, as well as ginger beer and a variety of tarter, fruity styles, the timing makes sense. It is not a wheat beer, so I suspect that will mean it will have a slightly fuller body than many versions, but that is just guesswork.
- A few days after that (March 30) marks the return of Pothole Porter from Winnipeg’s Half Pints, its big, robust Baltic Porter. Hopefully it makes its way to Alberta again, as previous versions have been quite enjoyable.
- Paddock Woods unveiled back on Tuesday (March 19) Ninkasi Imperial Pilsner, the latest release in the Sherbrooke/Paddock Wood Beer God Series. The beer style is self-explanatory. Ninkasi was the Sumerian Goddess of Beer and quite an important figure in beer mythology. Her name, by the way, is translated to “she who fills the mouth” and an ancient poem in her honour, Hymn to Ninkasi, contains the oldest found recipe for beer.
- This isn’t so new, but I missed it last time, so I thought I would highlight that Canmore Brewpub/Brewery The Grizzly Paw has added another beer to its line-up of bottled product. Big Head Nut Brown is now available in select locations in Alberta in 650-ml bottles. I hope this is a sign that they plan to expand their retail line-up.
- And then there is Big Rock who isn’t so much releasing a new beer at the moment (although a new beer will be the end result) as they have a contest to name a beer. Big Rock, a big supporter of Folk Music Festivals, is planning a special beer to be served at many of western Canada’s folk festivals. They have decided to let their customers decide which style they will serve and to name the beer. There are three styles in the competition – California Common, India Pale Lager or a Peach Wheat Ale. The most popular beer will be served at all of the folk festivals, but with a different name at each one. The participating folk fests include Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Alas, no Edmonton. I am told it is for logistical reasons related to Edmonton’s site.
There are also a spate of beer festivals hitting the province in the coming weeks and months:
- Urban Craft Beer & Food Festival. April 19, 6:00-10:00 Alberta Aviation Museum. This new event organized by Sherbrooke Liquor brings together craft beer and local food truck operators to create an urban fusion of beer and street food. Tickets are $25 and all proceeds go in support of Urban Spirits Rotary Club. Tickets available at Sherbrooke or online.
- Calgary International Beer Festival. May 3 and 4. BMO Centre Stampede Park. Now in its 9th year, the Calgary festival has a long list of beer exhibitors and a selection of Calgary restauranteurs lined up. Tickets range from $19 to $35 for a weekend VIP pass.
- Edmonton Craft Beer Festival. June 14 and 15. Expo Centre at Northlands. From the organizers of the Calgary festival, this is the first incarnation of their event in Edmonton. It will be structured in the same way as Calgary, with an emphasis on beer, local food and beer education. Ticket arrangements are also the same. You can get more info on both events here.
That should be enough new beer and beer happenings to keep you busy for a while.