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Alberta Beer Week in Review

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A beautiful sight – only Alberta taps to be found at Beer Revolution.

Alberta’s first official craft beer week is now over. I imagine exhausted brewery salespeople and brewers are looking forward to a return to a normal work week after the frenetic activities of last week. Not to mention giving beer fan’s livers a bit of a break.

I attended a few of the Edmonton-based events and spoke with people about events around the province. So, I can’t speak for everything that happened, but feel I have a general sense of how the week unfolded. Overall, I think Alberta beer consumers and the Alberta Small Brewers Association should be relatively pleased with how it went. It can be hard to discern just  how much of a mark the week made on consumers’ awareness of Alberta beer. Plus we have to consider that it is the first year of the week, meaning there will be hiccups, disappointments and some struggle to get noticed among the white noise of other things (Oilers/Flames training camp, federal election, SpiderMable to name just three).

For me the highlight (aside from the beer history tour – but I hosted it, so I am biased) was walking into the Edmonton Beer Revolution on a random afternoon and seeing nothing but Alberta tap handles behind the bar (Beer Rev devoted all of its taps during the week to Alberta product). It was a sweet sight to behold! It felt like you could get a cask ale any day of the week, which was also fun, even if, as usual, the end results were hit and miss. Some other observations:

  • All reports were that the Big Rock 30th anniversary party was a rocking good time. I think it was a good touch that Big Rock chose to open Alberta Beer Week with their anniversary. They could have easily done it in the summer or at a time where they would have had the weekend all to themselves. Classy.
  • Events in Red Deer and Camrose were quite popular, and organizers were pleased with the turnout.
  • The two Oktoberfests bookending the week were larger and seemed more festive than previous years – at least to my eye.
Two Sergeant's Kevin Moore and yours truly pose before a cask of our historical collaboration beer - Dampfbuster Dampfbier.

Two Sergeant’s Kevin Moore and yours truly pose before a cask of our historical collaboration beer – Dampfbuster Dampfbier.

I think for a first-go-round, it was relatively successful. However, I wonder about some things that might make it better next year.

  • I think more events hosted by the breweries themselves would add an interesting dimension. It would draw people to the actual location of the beer. I appreciate the breweries are stretched pretty thin with all the other events, I just found that was a missing element I would have appreciated.
  • I still think more  beer dinners and food pairings would be an added value. They need not be ticketed, closed events, but could be built into the flow of the restaurant. I recently did that at one of my monthly Sugar Bowl tastings – in addition to beer samples, we included a taste of food to match it.
  • That said, I also think some ticketed events with limited seating would add a formal component to the week. I know the main goal is to get Alberta beer into as many hands as possible, but I think we also need to show the diversity of beer in the province.
  • If they started thinking about it now, I bet the various breweries could come up with some fun collaborations, one-offs and special beer for the week. The casks were fun, but I think it could be cool to have an evening where everyone brought a one-off exlusive to the beer week.
  • Maybe some formal education as well – like a beer school. Brewsters tried that this year (I don’t know how well it went), but, again, formalizing the component of educating about beer would add value.

These are mostly random thoughts as I contemplate the week that was and what it could be. Anybody else have ideas? What was your experience of the week?




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