Traditionally the prairies have not been particularly good at preserving and honouring our history. Historic buildings are razed for strip malls and mega-stores. Our public spaces focus more on looking forward than back. Things are getting better. We are slowly realizing that it is important to keep our history alive.
One group that has been working hard to preserve and promote Edmonton’s history is the Edmonton Heritage Council. This non-profit group has been developing programs and outreach to make history more accessible to people. One of their more intriguing projects is ECAMP, which stands for Edmonton City as Museum Project, which is designed to get history out of the museum and show us that history is all around us.
No, this website hasn’t suddenly become a history blog. I mention all this because the Heritage Council has organized Brew Curious: YEG’s Brewing History, a bus tour of the city’s beer history. The tour will include stops at some well-known historical sites, like the old Molson plant, but will also include lesser known locations such as one of the oldest standing brewing structures in the city (you will have to take the tour to find out where it is). The guides will tell some of the stories of Edmonton’s beer personalities and grand events. The tour will also create a link between our past and our present, with stops at Edmonton’s craft breweries for brewery tours and tastings.
At Alley Kat, attendees will get a chance to taste a one-of-a-kind beer brewed specially for the tour. It is an historic stout, designed and brewed by myself and Alley Kat’s Neil Herbst (with some brew day assistance from Shane Groendahl of the Edmonton Beer Geeks Anonymous). We picked a stout because it was a very popular style in Alberta in the early 1900s.
I found a late 1800s British recipe that seemed a likely candidate to be how they would have brewed it. We home roasted some of the malt (the story of which I will save for another day), selected a yeast that we think is similar to what they might have used, and we used locally grown hops produced by Northern Girls, a new hop farm west of Edmonton. We brewed it on Alley Kat’s pilot system, so there is only enough for the tour. How’s that for an incentive to come along!
I have also been consulting with the Council on the tour itinerary (they have great historians – I have mostly been adding some beer knowledge ) and will be one of the guides for the tour. They hope to sell two busloads scheduled an hour apart.
So, here are the particulars. The tour is Saturday, April 18 with one bus departing at 11:00 and the second at 12:00. Expect about a five-hour tour. Tickets are $85 and include the tour, beer, some food and a bit of swag. You can buy them online at the ECAMP website. They are on sale now.
If you want to learn a bit about Edmonton’s beer history and spend a day hanging out with other beer curious people, consider signing up!