March 15 is a dire day if your name is Caesar. However, if you are a craft beer lover then it is a day with another edition of the prairie news round up. Today we have an interesting mixture of beer releases, brewery openings and policy changes. I will start with the policy stuff.
- The Saskatchewan government a couple weeks back announced an expansion of allowable growler fill locations. Growler sales were previously available at breweries, brewpubs and farmer’s markets. The new policy permits growler fills at SLGA stores, off-sale locations and other retailers. A significant footnote to the policy is that to receive a permit for growlers, the retailer must guarantee that at least one of the taps be a Saskatchewan beer if offering four or fewer taps, and two Saskie taps if greater than four.
- While it is not policy per se, in February Saskatchewan’s craft breweries banded together to form the Saskatchewan Craft Brewers Association (no website yet). All Saskatchewan breweries under 20,000 hl are eligible (which excludes Great Western). The association will lobby on behalf of the industry and their first priority will be to push for changes to the province’s definition of craft brewery.
- Rebellion Brewing in Regina has a set of announcements that nicely transitions me from policy to beer. First they have announced the creation of the Lady Rebels Beer Club, a women’s beer club, with a goal of expanding women’s appreciation for craft beer. Rebellion’s taproom manager, Chelsea Humble, and one of their brewers, Vanessa Owen, are heading it up. The first meeting is April 4. Rebellion is also hosting their 2nd Annual Cask Festival on April 15 and 16. The timing coincides with the 2016 ALES Open homebrew competition. At the time of writing the list of participating breweries included: Tool Shed, Six Corners, Half Pints, Paddock Wood, 9 Mile Legacy, Nokomis, Black Bridge, Bushwakker and Rebellion.
- Talking about Black Bridge Brewing in Swift Current, they have been quietly expanding their line-up from the original three beer a year ago. A while back they released PSEUDO Lager, their take on a light refreshing beer, as part of their year-round line-up. They put out a limited edition Saison a couple months back in 750-ml bottles. Their latest release is Double IPA, with Mosaic as its dominant hop. No word on whether this latest release will be permanent or seasonal.
- In the past few weeks, both of the new Grande Prairie breweries opened their doors. GP Brewing officially launched last Friday, while Grain Bin Brewing opened in late February. Grain Bin has also officially launched its Democracy series (for a summary read here). Four styles are on the first ballot – Imperial IPA, Dubbel, Imperial Stout or Dark Mild. The vote is taking place here.
- Up in Whitehorse, things have also been busy. Winterlong Brewing, the small upstart which only opened last summer, has announced an expansion that will triple the breweries production capacity. It was a bit of a fortunate turn of fate as the brewery jumped on an unexpected opportunity to lease the entire building where the brewery currently takes up a small section.
- Down the road at Yukon Brewing, the long anticipated release of their single malt whiskey, Two Brewers Single Malt Whiskey, finally arrived last month, and is slowly developing distribution in Alberta and Yukon. To prevent confusion, what we mean by Single Malt Whiskey is “Scotch” (they are not allowed to use that name, but I can). Inspired by the release, they are also releasing Spirit Dog, which is their regular Lead Dog with the addition of a portion of a previous batch of Lead Dog that had been distilled. Sounds enticing. They also have a schedule of seasonal, one-off releases in the coming months, including a Haskap Berry Kolsch and an Imperial Pilsner, as well as a birch beer and a white IPA down the road.
- Shifting to Alberta, in addition to the recently reported re-introduction of Full Moon Pale Ale (read here), Alley Kat has been busy with other releases. Their Ginger Beer is currently on shelves and will be joined next week (March 24) by the return of Red Dragon, which is the version using Simcoe hops. Word has it that the Lemon Hefeweizen will also make an appearance again this summer.
- Working our way down Highway 2, Lacombe’s Blindman Brewing has released its first take on kettle souring. Simply called Kettle Sour #1, it is also dry-hopped with Galaxy and Mosaic hops and is available on tap and in 355ml cans. They also recently released a new version of their Saison Lacombe, This one called Noir and is a dark version. Also floating around at places is Ichorous Imperial Stout.
- In Red Deer, Troubled Monk has made a push north and are now have their cans available in select liquor stores in Edmonton. the Olds College Brewery has also started retailing in a few stores in the capital region.
- Finally arriving in Calgary, Dandy Brewing has announced an ambitious goal to release 40 unique beer in 2016. The total will involve beer produced over the range of their platforms, including seasonals, limited editions, Dandy Editions (hand numbered bottles, limited to 200), and tap room only offerings. Well, those boys will sure be busy.
Well, that will do for now, I suspect. I will keep my nose to the ground and my pint glass full to the rim and will report on anything new soon.