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Welcome to Random Acts of Beerness

A rare photo of me on this website. Photo courtesy of Edmonton Journal.

A rare photo of me on this website. Just Because. Photo courtesy of Edmonton Journal.

When I started this website over 6 years ago (!!) it was with two explicit functions. First,it was an outlet for writing, observations and ramblings that couldn’t fit into my regular columns. Second, and most importantly, it was going to be a website that covered the craft beer scene on the prairies. At the time there were good sites covering B.C., Ontario and Atlantic, but no one was paying attention to the prairies. I decided to step into that void.

At the time the prairies were a sleepy little corner of the beer world. Only a couple of breweries each in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and a handful in Alberta. Frankly the job of covering the scene was pretty easy.

Oh, man, has that changed in the last year or two. New breweries popping up in all three provinces, more seasonals, more events and generally more stuff happening. It has been increasingly difficult to keep up with it all, in particular because this site is a non-paying sideline to my regular life (you know, job, family, hobbies – homebrewing! – and the like). Anything I did had to be squeezed in between all these other things.

Over the summer I have been thinking about the role of the site. I have mused a couple times about the relative value of my regular News Roundups. But I have also been thinking about the sustainability of other aspects, such as my commitment to do up a profile of all new breweries in the region and my ability to keep the Prairie Beer page up to date.

Don’t worry – the site isn’t going anywhere. But over the coming months you will start to see some changes in my approach and what I do here, including – if I can get my act together and/or get some low cost assistance from a designer – a visual re-boot of the site.

The first decision is that, despite some response saying they are valuable, I am doing away with the regular News Roundups. I found them becoming too much work and, frankly, I was starting to miss too much stuff. It is the missing stuff that bothers me the most, since I am shortchanging breweries when I leave out their news.

In its place I am going to start a regular feature called Random Acts of Beerness. In Random Acts I will discuss observations of what is happening around the region, highlight interesting news bits that caught my eye for one reason or another and draw attention to upcoming stuff that seems cool. In short it will be a less structured, more haphazard version of the news roundup. No promises to anyone on what will make it in. It will have more commentary and will likely engage a bit more policy-oriented stuff as well (as you people seem to like that stuff – wonks all of you!). I am not sure how frequently it will appear, but I am hoping it will, to a degree, cover the ground the roundup handled but without the stress and guilt that came with it.

Without further ado, here is my first incarnation of the Random Acts of Beerness (albeit abbreviated because I rambled on so much to this point):

Breweries, Breweries and More Breweries

You would have to be living under a rock to not notice that the number of new breweries opening on the prairies is exploding. In Manitoba, Barn Hammer, Torque and Peg have all opened their doors this year, with at least 6 more coming up behind them. Alberta has seen a huge spate of openings. This summer alone has seen the arrival of Cold Garden, Dog Island, Lakeland, Prairie, Half Hitch, Trolley 5 (brewery operations), Hell’s Basement and Bent Stick. Sixteen breweries have opened since the beginning of 2016. Interestingly, Saskatchewan has been relatively quiet with only Malty National opening its doors in 2016 (although keep in mind Saskatchewan had a wave a couple years ago).

Owen getting wet tapping a cask!

Owen getting wet tapping a cask!

Cask Ale and More Cask Ale

After a bit of a lull, where the cask nights at various pubs around Edmonton and Calgary seemed to be losing momentum and some of their excitement, I sense a bit of a resurgence. Of particular note is Situation Brewing’s decision to have a new cask offering EVERY DAY. That has me extremely excited and hopeful that other places take a similar step. And, of course, I can’t talk about casks without mentioning that the lastest Edmonton Beer Geek’s Anonymous Cask Festival is coming up on September 10. As of a few days ago there were still a few tickets left. This is a joyously crazy afternoon of cask beer. I was told there are over 30 this year.

Back Alley Kat

Alley Kat has launched a new series called Back Alley Brews that seems, at first, to be offering slightly more experimental offerings from the Edmonton mainstay. The first release, earlier this summer, was a spruce beer and I just yesterday I got a sample of the latest, High Level IPA, which has a crazy combination of hop varieties in it (including one I have never heard of – Jarrylo). They utilized hop bursting for this beer – a first for Alley Kat. Hop bursting is the practice of adding a large volume of hops very late in the boil, whic they say lowers bitter harshness and maxes hop flavour and character

Collective Tap Takeovers

Ontario’s Collective Arts Brewing is holding two take overs at Beer Revolution (tonight in Calgary, Saturday in Edmonton). I am really intrigued by Collective Arts and their commitment to combining beer, art and music. A unique model that people should pay attention to. Plus the beer is really solid. Nevermind they come from Hammertown – a city I have great affinity for (having got my Masters at McMaster).  Oskee Wee Wee!

beausNaturally Beau’s Comes to Town

I was pleasantly surprised to see Ontario’s Beau’s All Natural decide to enter the Alberta market this week, with three of their beer on shelves. Every time I go to Ontario I try to pick up a few bottles of their Lug Tread, which is an excellent Kolsch-style beer. It is particularly noteworthy given the recent controversy over mark-ups and all the dire predictions that Canadian breweries would vacate the market. The arrival of a well-respected Ontario brewery, in spite of the higher mark-ups, is a hint that maybe, just maybe the impact won’t be as catastrophic as some have suggested. There is still money to be made selling beer in Alberta.

Your Guide to Alberta Beer

Alberta is soon to have its own Alberta Beer Guide, inspired by The Growler in B.C. It will have a listing for every brewery in the province (good luck keeping up with that guys!) as well as some interesting articles to pique reader interest (full disclosure: I wrote a piece for the first issue). It will be out in September. More details as they arrive.

That’ll do for now, given my lengthy preamble. Feel free to comment on whether you like the new approach or not. More when the spirit moves me.

3 comments to Welcome to Random Acts of Beerness

  • Hey, who is doing the Alberta Beer guide?

    Also, while many people prefer an ad-free environment, have you considered advertising on your site just to cover the cost of web design and hosting? Everyone does it, you know.

    • beerguy

      The guide is being done up by an Edmonton beer guy with experience in publishing. I haven’t asked permission to share his name – I don’t if he wants it public or not.

      As for ads, I do contemplate it, but so far the site hasn’t cost me much (except for the one time when it was hacked) and so doesn’t seem worth the loss of purity 🙂

    • Brady

      I don’t know either, but when I ran into the female rep for said guide, and praised its premise, but subsequently mentioned my own preexisting ode and review guide to Alberta beers, I got nothing but immediate silence and the ol’ stink-eye. Sorry, there’s nothing new under the sun, eh?

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