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Aleberta: Alberta Beer Then and Today

aleberta logoLast night I got my first view of the new beer history documentary series Aleberta at a screening at Yellowhead Brewery. As of this morning, the three-part series is available online and it will soon begin showing on Telus Optik tv (who funded the project). You can watch all three parts on the Aleberta website. I could embed the videos here but prefer to generate traffic for the film’s producer.

The series begins with the origins of beer in Alberta and runs up to the 1980s (that’s a lot of ground to cover in 17 minutes!). Relying heavily on interviews with local beer historians (including yours truly!), it walks us through some of the unique characters that built beer in Alberta in the early 1900s and beyond. They also dug up some great archival photos to bring some of the stories to life. My favourite was the drunkard sitting on the sidewalk in front of a tavern door with a “ladies and escorts” sign above. If he was the escort, I would hate to see what kind of shape the “lady” was. The first part finds a nice balance between solid historical facts and  playful take on some of the more outrageous elements of Alberta’s beer history, such as the silly post-prohibition restrictions on taverns and retail sales.

The second part looks at the rise of craft beer in the province, starting with Big Rock and moving through the breweries that are now mainstays but at the time had quite the struggle to stay afloat. It is easy to forget just how barren Alberta was for good tasting beer back then. It also reminds us of the failed efforts during that period.

The last part looks at the mini-explosion of new breweries over the last two years. It is less history and more of a celebration of where craft beer has come. It profiles a number of the young upstart breweries that are beginning to populate the Alberta scene.

All around, I found the production to be entertaining, informative and engaging – which is exactly what a documentary should be. It is must viewing for Alberta beer afficionados. And even if you are not from Alberta, I think you will appreciate the inspiring and at times quirky history of beer in Alberta. Just forgive the ramblings of the short guy in the plaid shirt who pops up periodically in the films.


1 comment to Aleberta: Alberta Beer Then and Today

  • Deb Renner

    I also saw this 3 part series shown at Big Rock Urban in Vancouver earlier this past week. Thoroughly enjoyable entertaining and artistic. Thanks for the fine documentary.
    The guy in the plaid shirt certainly looks taller on TV ! I’m so glad it was also well received in Edmonton as well Spencer Estabrook!

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