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Catchin’ Up on the News

Brewsters BA Dubbel 3I have been quite the busy puppy the last few weeks, as my more sporadic than usual posting may attest. One thing that has fallen behind is reporting the latest beer news and releases. As it turns out the past month or so has been relatively quiet on the new beer front. This makes sense as the summer seasonals have been announced and the breweries are busy keeping up with climbing post-Victoria Day demand.

Some of the big news, including the Canadian Brewing Awards and Manitoba’s legalization of U-Brews, I have already reported on in previous posts (here and here). So let me get to what I have missed, or at least think I have missed. Most of the activity seems to be in Calgary this month, with Saskatchewan appearing rather quiet. Usual caveats apply and feel free to add omissions in the comments section:

  • Brewsters is wasting no time taking advantage of its newly found retail access, releasing its latest seasonal on the market a couple weeks ago. Brooding Soldier Barrel-Aged Dubbel is the second of what may or may not be a burgeoning series from the brewpub chain. The second Brooding Soldier (the first was a tripel) is an 8% Dubbel (meaning it is edging into Dark Strong territory) was aged for eight months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels – which I find a fascinating choice. They are available in limited quantities for a limited time.
  • Tool Shed may have the most intriguing and “out-there” news this month. On May 28 the crazy guys at Tool Shed drove a hand-built coolship (a shallow fermenting pan used in Lambic brewing) fill with freshly boiled wort around a local barley and fruit farm (Scott Keller Farms). The purpose was to attract the local yeast fauna to innoculate the wort. In partnership with the Olds College Teaching Brewery lab, they plan to isolate strains that might hold promise in making an Alberta Terroir beer. No specific plans on the beer as yet, but hold tight for further announcements.
  • The dandy folks at Dandy Brewing have another new seasonal, going a different direction with this one. Smoke Boss Rauchbier adopts a more German tradition for this English-inspired brewery. Beechwood smoked malt serves as the base for this amber ale.
  • Village Brewing also charts some new territory with its latest one-off release. Grand Father West Coast IPA was originally intended to celebrate the 1000th batch of beer to be produced in their brewhouse. However, they shifted gears to make it a Fathers’ Day present for beer lovers in the province (which of course is coming up fast all you sons, daughters and spouses). It also marks the first – to my knowledge – time Village has packaged a seasonal in 650-ml bomber bottles. The beer also comes with a handy sew on patch in case your dad wants to wear “the colours”.
  • bigrock_wai-itiBig Rock is hardly going to be left out of this Calgary stampede, releasing the latest in their Brewmasters’ Edition a couple weeks back. Wai-Ti Wheat Ale is described as a “India Wheat Ale” brewed with rare New Zealand Wai-Ti hops noted for a bright, sweet citrus character
  • Not one, but two new breweries are planning December openings in Winnipeg. Peg Beer Co., owned by former Half Pints co-owner Nicole Barry, will be a middle sized brewpub on the north edge of downtown. A little farther west soon will be Barn Hammer Brewing, a venture of a local Winnipeg businessman. Notably Barn Hammer’s inaugural brewer will be former Alley Kat brewer Brian Westcott. I am reaching out to both breweries and will offer more details once I have chatted with them.
  • In a little bit of non-brewery related news, Manitoba Liquor Marts (the government liquor stores) has announced a new Canadian craft beer promotion called Coast to Coaster. Over the summer they will profile Canadian craft beer from 30 breweries in eight provinces, many of which have not sold in Manitoba before. Adding to the fun is that both Half Pints Brewing and Fort Garry brewing have created special one-off beer for the promotion. The details of the two beer are yet to be announced.
  • Finally, as briefly mentioned before, Alley Kat in Edmonton is reaching an important milestone. On June 20 they are celebrating their 20th anniversary of brewing craft beer in Alberta. They plan a big, yet informal event at the brewery. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased from Alley Kat directly.

We will have to see what other things summer brings us as the temperature climbs and our thirst for beer grows. I promise to do my best to stay on top of it.



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