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A Great Beer Harvest

WR ipa packWith the fall equinox fast approaching and the leaves starting to turn, it is likely time for another news roundup. Many things afoot across the prairies as the region’s craft brewers shift from the craziness of summer to a merely very hectic fall. And, of course, who can forget that Oktoberfest is just around the corner.

So here are the latest beer releases and related news, as usual in no particular order.

  • We should likely start with Half Pints, who probably deserve multiple bullets for all they have on the go. First up, TODAY is the annual release of their Oktoberfest, as reliable a fall sighting as Canada Geese flying south. Then, next Thursday (Sept. 25) they are releasing the first Pro-Am Challenge brew. This beer was the best-of-show winner at last year’s innaugral Half Pints Pro-Am Brew Challenge (more on that in a minute). Designed by Dean Kelly the beer, called Simcoe Spruce, is a Pale Ale infused with spruce tips. Its release is just in time for the 2nd Half Pints Annual Pro-Am Challenge. This is a unique competition that pits professional and homebrewed beer side by side, with the amateur winner getting to brew their beer at Half Pints. Entry deadline is September 21, so if you move fast you could likely still Xpresspost a couple of entries (see here for details). Judging will take place October 1 to 4.
  • Moving westward (maybe that is how I will handle it today), Prairie Sun continued their one-off seasonal series last week with the release of Saskatoon Berry Saison. The name is enough to tell you what is going on with that beer. Not sure if there is even any left, but if you are in Saskatoon swing by and find out.
  • Two Calgary breweries have similar releases this month. First up is Wild Rose who has just released a Mixed IPA pack called The Bitter Truth. This six-pack has two bottles each of their regular IPA and two past seasonals, White Shadow White IPA and 42 Session IPA. I haven’t heard whether this is a limited offering or a new year-round option. I suspect the former.
  • Big Rock has just announced its own new mixed pack. The Rad Trad Variety Pack offers two twists on Big Rock’s longtime flagship, Traditional Ale (usually just called ‘Trad’ in Alberta). The Anarchist and The Cascadian are both a bumped up version of Trad (6.1%) and with a more noted hop presence. Cascade, Chinook & Citra in The Cascadian, and Challenger, Progress, Fuggles & Golding in The Anarchist, meaning the former will have a more American character and the latter more British. Three bottles of each are in each six-pack.
  • Something Brewing, the craft arm of Red Deer’s Drummond Brewing, will soon be hitting store shelves in AlAK pink dragonberta. They were at the spring beer festivals and later this month we will begin seeing cans of their first three beer. Gimme That Nut Brown Ale, Dark Side Schwarzbier and Hop Bomb IPA are a marked divergence for the brewery. Launching a true craft line has long been a goal of the Drummond owners, who until now have been competing in the “value” segment of the beer market. An interesting twist is their decision to go with distinctive boxes of 4 cans, rather than the usual six. It gives the case a very noticeable shape and look. No official date on their release, but expect them soon (along with a review of the beer on this site sometime).
  • Up in Edmonton, Alley Kat is releasing its latest Dragon Series beer next Thursday (Sept. 25). Pink Dragon is brewed with Sterling hops and as usual will only be around as long as the one batch lasts.
  • Finally, Yukon’s Longest Night Black IPA is floating around Alberta at the moment. Not sure how much of it there is and how long it will last, but try it while you can.

In other news, Alberta Beer Festivals, the company that organizes the spring Edmonton Craft Beer Festival and Calgary International Beer Festival, has launched a fall version of their events to celebrate Oktoberfest. The Calgary version runs September 26/27, while Edmonton goes October 3/4. Similar to their spring events, the Oktoberfests will offer a bit more German flair and some slightly tweaked processes (including a sample flight paddle). Go here for ticket info.

And since I am talking, I can let you know that the official launch of Stone Brewing’s entry into the Canadian market happens October 21. Stone is one of the most talked about craft breweries in the U.S., and their beer is not for the feint of palate (check out my recent review of their Enjoy By… IPA). Apparently there will be some industry and public events in the days around the event. Keep an eye out for notices.

There are a few breweries who haven’t announced their fall plans yet, so I suspect a follow-up post in the coming days or weeks.



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