It has been a while since I have gotten to a Random Acts of Beerness (now with a hip acronym – RAOB!). Not that there hasn’t been beer news that has caught my attention. It is more that I have been swimming hard just to stay afloat with everything. Plus I have been trying to make a priority of new brewery profiles which is taking up a lot of my onbeer time.
But I thought I should at least offer up a quick rundown of some of the things that have caught my eye recently. As I built the list I realized many of them are not, actually, news and are things I should have mentioned ages ago. Oh well.
- Tops of the Shoulda-Done-That-Sooner list is Yellowhead Brewing’s new tap room, which has been open since the fall. They re-worked their small retail space to create a cozy 20-seat tap room offering up to 7 taps. Open Monday thru Saturday from just before lunch to early evening, it helps take advantage of the under-utilized location they have right downtown Edmonton. Other changes at Yellowhead include a new brewmaster and a commitment to producing a series of one-offs and experiments on their pilot system. As a result we are seeing a variety of Yellowhead creations. Most are tap room only exclusives, but some leak their way to special events and the like. A new direction for them worth watching.
- Also opening a new tap room, as well as a whole new location, is Saskatoon’s 9 Mile Legacy Brewing. The tiny brewery opened a couple years ago (read my profile here), and this move and expansion marks the next step in their evolution. In fact it is more than just a tap room. The new location will have, in addition to their existing 1BBL system, a new 5BBL brewhouse allowing them to have greater capacity yet retain small batch flexibility. They officially launch at the new location March 10.
- Since I am on the topic of new locations, I got to get a sneak peak of Blind Enthusiasm a couple weeks back. It is still a construction site, but things are beginning to take shape. I can officially say that the brewhouse is gorgeous! It will be a great addition to that part of Edmonton. They hope to be open sometime in April.
- Bench Creek’s take on New England IPA, Apex Predator, is now officially released and will make its way around Northern Alberta in the coming weeks. The beer actually is a tweak of the three-way collaboration released late last year (read here). But it remains noteworthy because I sense the potential that this could become a permanent, or at least semi-regular, release by the Edson brewery.
- I have commented recently about the growing trend of collaboration beer. Calgary has been particularly active on this front. I have seen no less than eight collaborations in the past couple months. A lot of the breweries are involved, but Trolley 5, Dandy, Banded Peak and Village seem particularly active. I also note they are picking more adventurous styles, like sours, baltic porters, Belgian strong ales and the like. That is encouraging. The latest is Village-Banded Peak offering up Banded Belgian Tripel as part of Village’s Village Friend series.
- It may not be beer, but I note that our northern friends, Yukon Brewing, have won not one but three silver medals at the 2017 Canadian Whiskey Awards. More impressive is that this was their first time entering the national competition, having just released their first single-malt whiskey (that would be scotch to you and me) a year ago. They won for Release 01 Classic, Release 02 Special Finishes, and Release 03 Peated.
Finally, tonight is the official launch of Issue 3 of the Alberta Beer Guide (being good Millenials they have eschewed a website and are going with Twitter). This quarterly publication is attempting to profile every brewery in the province along with some general beer education stories and the like. The launch event at Situation Brewing is sold out (sorry – look for the next one) but look for the guide in beer places near you. As full disclosure this issue marks the beginning of my official relationship with the guide (I wrote for the first issue as a one off). Moving forward I will be writing the cover feature profiling an Alberta brewery. This issue it is Brewsters and I look at their fascinating history in Alberta beer.
That is all for now – although I know I have omitted tonnes of stuff. More when I can get around to it.