Sharing experiences of different breweries and their brews along my travels throughout Alberta and beyond. I am trying to get out of my comfort zone and express my experiences and thoughts with everyone about the booming business of Craft beer and their Breweries. I also just talk about specialty one off craft beers when I can get my hands on them.
Wow what a summer it was! 2018 was a good year for craft beer in Alberta! All the specialty one off beers that were coming out to what seemed like almost weekly were incredible. I mean i tried a triple IPA and if you have read previous posts I never drink IPAs yet alone triples. If you want to see all the beers from my summer go and request to be in my Facebook group "Craft beer 101" and you will be able to see all the beers I got the chance to indulge in! I have posted so many beers this summer that now I have become "The beer guy" at work. I mean, I have even created a Instagram profile called Craftbeerfan101 and i post beers on their as well, not as frequent as Facebook though. But this post is going to be more about the start of my summer and some of the fun things I got to do and to get my hands on to drink. Enjoy! 2 Brewery Tastings!! Fathers Day was a good day this year! My dad brought me to two different and brand new breweries in Sylvan Lake, AB. The first was Snake Lake Brewing and the second was Undercurrent Brewing. Both breweries have are fantastic places to visit and experience their beers in their tap rooms. Snake Lake Brewing is on the outskirts of the industrial area in Sylvan and Undercurrent Brewing is right off the corner of the beach. Snake Lake is a larger scale brewery while Undercurrent is a small batch style brewery.
Snake Lake Brewing Company. When my father and I pulled up to the brewery, I thought to myself "well this doesn't look very appealing". Then Dad and I entered and it opens up into this beautiful open, welcoming, warm tap room that looks straight into the brewery and there is no glass separating the public from the tanks. I was surprised to see they had a menu and it probably would have been a good idea considering I drank a lot of beer that day. About their beers; they are definitely different, they like using flavors that I have not normally thought of putting in beer. They used pine and other sorts of flavors like that which gave the beer an unusual flavor profile which took a little time to get used to. Overall, I liked this brewery, I really liked the atmosphere they tried to portray and I enjoyed their flight of beers in the pic below. Rating 7.5/10
Undercurrent Brewing Ltd.
This brewery is in the best possible location I could have imagined as it was right along the edge of the beach and I am assuming will do very well this summer as they just opened their doors before summer. Although it is a smaller brewery my dad and I spent more time at this brewery just due to liking the beer a little more then Snake Lakes'. When we first walked in the first thing I saw was their big logo above their shelving unit full of growlers. It was a really good first impression. Then when I got to the counter I found the menu a little confusing but after a minute I was able to figure it out. While waiting in line though, I got an opportunity to look around the taproom and it had this open, warm and inviting seating area. It had there big beautiful bench style tables that invite people to talk to each other. While we were drinking our tasting flight, one of the employees came and had a good chat with us about their beers and their plans for the brewery. I really enjoy talking to staff as it makes me feel like they are passionate about their beers but also getting feedback so that they can improve or tweak their existing beers. One concern I did have with this brewery is that they did not Can anything, they would only fill growlers. Their steam beer was definitely my favorite beer between both breweries. Rating of 8/10
Facebook beer group!
Alright so if anybody reads this feel free to check out my Facebook group Craft beer 101. I started this group so that people could share their craft beer with everyone and also find out what sorts of beers people like during different times of the year. One thing I never expected was, I never thought I would make connections in the community that I never knew excited.
So a funny trend has presented itself to me after re-reading all of my blogs that I thought I would point out and that is that I must really love the Blindman Brewery! I only have four posts but it seems like I have only been drinking there beers! This post even has one of there beers in a picture! Moreover, since I have talked so much about this brewery I think I really have to get my ass over to this brewery and get the true experience and of course drink their amazing beers!
Last Years Summer Favorites
Alright so last summer was the when I really got into Craft beer! I did a lot of research on my own time and learned a lot, not enough to call myself an expert or a connoisseur as they are so called, but I did learn a little about the different types of beers, and the brewing process. Last summer I chose to find 3-4 breweries and try all of there beers and those breweries were the Blindman Brewery, Lacombe AB, The Troubled Monk, Red Deer AB, The Tool Shed Brewery, Calgary AB and my hometowns Coulee Brew, Lethbridge AB. I stuck to these breweries so that I could figure out what sort of beers I preferred and so I could follow them and see how often they came out with special or seasonal beers that they might only do once or twice. The picture below has 3 beers in it and the ones on the left and middle are two beers that were my favorite beers of the summer!
The beer on the left is a 11% extra strong ale. It is a Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels that were double oaked and aged for 147 days. WOW! this beer had a kick! I am not a spirits kind of person and bourbon is definitely not a favorite! This beer though was absolutely fantastic! The aroma this beer gave off after it was poured in the glass was a really strong bourbon smell so naturally I was a little hesitant. Then I took my first sip and it was this intense flavor of bourbon and after I swallowed it had this beautifully smooth finish of oak that made me go back for more and more until before I knew it was all gone and I was pretty tipsy. I believe this brewery also did this to there main stay porter and I was able to try that one as well and it was fabulous as well. I think there is a reason I keep talking about the Blindman Brewery and its definitely because they keep making fantastic beers that have these amazing flavor profiles that just keep you wanting more.
The beer in the middle is my favorite from last summer! It was a special beer that was brewed by the Tool Shed brewery in Calgary AB. The tool shed at the time was really pushing the using of local Alberta grown products. Where the barely was grown was a big promotional push that the brewery made. The barely growers are actually located north of my hometown where I grew up. The guys who own the farm I actually went to high school with which in a way made it even more special and made it that much better when I was able to get my hands on it. The can of this beer perfectly depicts the name of this beer in my opinion and truly represents Alberta Craft beer perfectly just by the design of the can! Prairie Pride, was the smoothest and lightest tasting beer I have ever had in my life thus far. The best way of describing this beer is by comparing it to a bud light but this beer is ten times better in every way possible. It was a beautiful crisp and flavorful beer that was smooth going down and went down way to quick and before I knew the six pack and the two liter growler were gone.
Best Christmas Ever!!
So Christmas 2017 was a memorable one. I was able to get my hands on this fantastic Craft Beer Advent calendar from a brewery out of Victoria, British Columbia called Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. I was very fortunate to even find this calendar as there was only one liquor store in town that brought it in and I was lucky enough to get there in time and get two, one for my dad of course! This brewery had specifically arranged this calendar so that every day the beer was diffenent and got better and better. The beers ranged from a simple pilsner to a blond to a sour to a stout and so on and so forth. Every style of beer was in this calendar. I was and still am really impressed by this brewery as I think it would be very difficult to come up with 25 different beers and arrange them in the way they did. When December comes around this year though I will definitely try and get my hands on a calendar again and hopefully it will be another brewery because I love trying new beers from different breweries! Not because I did not like this calendar, just to clarify! Yes that is my little munchkin hovering over top! She was very intrigued with what I was doing and wanted to see.
Alright so I was able to get my hands on some very special beers because my good friend was invited to a closed event at a brewery in Calgary, AB. My friend was nice enough to give me one of each of the beers he bought so that I could try them as he knows I am really into craft beer and all. So stay tuned and I will post once I have drank them all and have taken some pics!
Also if you would like to know more about some of the breweries I have mentioned or you might have already heard of on your own leave me a comment and I will try my best to help and give you the info you are looking for!
Craft Beer Night at SAAG Craft Beer Friday Takeover!Alright, so a really good friend/colleague invited me to a beer tasting here in town. I decided that since I had never been to one it would be a good to go out and try the beers they had. When I got there they had five beers to choose from (pic below). As I have stated in the past, the hoppy beers are not my favorite beers to drink and number 2 on the list, the Intergalactic Space Dragon IPA was probably the worst of the five but it was not a bad beer by any means its just that the other beers were just so much better then this beer. This beer was a hoppy beer I would be okay having a couple more of this beer. The Kolsch was nothing special but still better then the IPA. The Black Currant Kettle Sour was honestly the most surprising of the whole tasting. I had my reservations about this style of brew and I was hesitant in trying it. I am glad I did as I was thoroughly surprised with this beer as it was a super tasty fruity beer with a small sour taste that stuck around on the tongue at the end. The Imperial Russian Stout though!!! WOW! what a fantastic beer that was! I just could not stop drinking it! At the 9% alcohol it hit me pretty hard. I might of even had a couple to many. The last beer I did not try until closer to the end of the night but one I did I found it to be quite delicious and a great beer to finish off the night.
The next half of this post if about the second half of the title of this post. This was a complete test and never would have thought that it would work as well as it did. This is the Beer-can-chicken I cooked using a craft beer from the Tool Shed Brewery in Calgary, AB. The beer I used was called People Skills. No, I did not get any more skills in talking with people but I did manage to get this chicken just right and not burn it on the BBQ. The flavor from this beer was amazing! Sure a fruity taste on a chicken is not everybody's favorite thing to eat but when I say that this chicken was juicy I mean it was probably the juiciest chicken I have ever had so far in my life. Yes, I did use a recipe I might have seen on TV but it was mainly just for the seasoning of the chicken. (Pics Below). People Skills is a amazing Cream Ale that to me is just smooth and refreshing. It has this wonderful fruity flavor that stays on the tongue with a bit of a bite of hops at the end! Yes, I know, hops! But to be fair with this beer it really is the perfect balance and has the perfect amount of hops. I would recommend this beer to anyone who can get their hands on it!
Yes, I know I again lied as I said I would go check out the other brewery in town! I just have not been able to find the time to go visit! I promise though that I will visit soon!
Today, I just felt like I needed to write about these beers I was able to get my hands on because I feel like I need to make sure people read this, find out about these beers and if possible get their hands them! I mean their is nothing better then being able to drink a beer you know has been made carefully, with amazing ingredients and crafted by individuals who are just trying to make amazing beers for everyone to enjoy.
Alright, so it seems like a lot of breweries are starting to come out with some seasonal beers and let me be one craft brew fan and say, damn!!! There are some good beers coming out right now and I cannot wait to get my hands on more of these seasonal beers. Lethbridge is a little out of the way for some breweries to ship to but thanks to Andrew Hilton (local liquor store) for being on the ball and bringing in all these fantastic beers and helping conquer the thirst of all the craft beer fans in Lethbridge and area! I am going to talk about two fantastic beers I was able to get my hands on! I told my wife I had to go get beer and since she has been super supportive over my quest to try new craft beers and encouraged me to do write this blog she just said "okay, bye." So I went and got two beers, the first called " Drexl Blackstrap Imperial Stout, brewed by the Bench Creek Brewery. The second beer is a Foeder-Aged Golden Saison brewed by Blindman Brewery. I had been keeping tabs on both breweries as they were advertising on all the platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that they would be coming out with these brews! My main challenge is usually to get my hands on these special brews but this time was able to grab a couple! Let me be the first to say that it was "TOTALLY worth it!"
I am currently drinking this fantastic beer (Pic below). I typically would not be drinking this type of brew. But since this is a "Foeder-aged Golden Siason" made by probably if not the best craft brewery in the province, the Blindman Brewery, located in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada so naturally I had to try it. This brewery is pumping out amazing beer! I absolutely love their beers! Unfortunately I have not been able to visit their brewery yet but I have tried pretty much every special/seasonal beer they have put out since I got into craft beer that I have been able to get my hands on. I will try and post a picture of all the awesome and amazing beers I have been able to get my hands on from the Blindman Brewery. For people who do not know, Lacombe is a 4 hour drive from Lethbridge so I think I am pretty lucky they ship down to Lethbridge. Do not worry though, the next time I go up to the area, I will definitely try and make a trip to this brewery to get the full experience, and I can't wait! Anyways, this beer was really good I thought it had some nice fruity undertones in it (im not sure if there was any fruit added), but since it was aged in a Cognac barrel I was able to get those flavors come through.
The next beer, well holy moly! This beer kicked me in the ass! (note to self; make sure you eat before drinking a 11% beer!). Bench Creek brewing definitely hit it out of the park with this next beer! It is a beautiful full bodied beer that has all these amazing flavors including coffee, toffee, caramel, chocolate, blackstrap molasses and star anise, I know that is a lot right! Surprisingly it was not, it is a perfect combination of flavors which a beautiful array of flavors on your palate felt as though the flavors grew even in the after taste. All these flavors are incorporated in different ways; such as in the malts, yeasts and to top it off being aged on some american oaks is fantastic. If you are a fan of a heavy dark beer in which the flavor of the beer grows as the flavors release and grow on your tongue, then this is the beer for you! But be warned, this beer packs a punch! But totally worth it!
So, hopefully my next post I will have finally visited Lethbridge's second brewery and will be able to share my experience. I mean every time I think of it i just get excited about going, and I am not going to lie but I am going in with relatively low expectations and am hoping to be blown away!
P.S.- Do not drink and write as the next morning reading your post causes a bit of editing!.
All right everyone, so I am going to be honest here but I have been to this brewery a couple times as it is quite literally at the end of the street from where I work. It is called Coulee Brew Company. It is this big beautiful building and inside has a really nice warm contemporary country feel to it. As soon as you walk in there is the bar counter with all of its glorious taps front and center. They have several of there own beers on tap and I have even spotted another beer from another craft brewery a time or two. The last time I was there I just went to fill a my 2 liter growler with my favorite beer Bears Hump Nut Brown Ale. Coulee Brew to my knowledge only has 6 main stay brews on tap. Coulee Brew is a really great place to socialize and have a nice relaxing beer after work with little bite to eat. Coulee Brew has a kitchen, I know right, craft beer straight from the tank along with bar food, what could be better? Oh wait nothing! Although, I have my reservations about some of their food itself, I am not writing about the food just the beer! Speaking of beer, Coulee Brew just came out with what I believe to be a seasonal beer which is called the Coal Banks Porter and I freaking love it! I think I like it better than the Nut Brown Ale but I think its a seasonal beer... so sad.
If you are ever in the Lethbridge area stop by Coulee Brew! They always have some sort of event going on an have this great patio perfect for a good time. Beer is beer! Well to some extent anyways. Sure there are some terrible beers but to me those are the mainstream brands now! I don't know about you all but I have the hardest time going from any craft beer and switching to a Bud or Canadian! They honestly are impossible to choke down now! If they are your thing great but once you have a beer that has just come from the tanks into a can/bottle/keg into your glass that have been hand crafted and have these amazing flavors layered on top of one another you would have a difficult time going back to the mainstream beers to. Like seriously, with all the different combinations a craft brewer could come up with is ridiculous. I mean they could come up with combinations that include different fruits like apples, cherries, grapefruit, lemon, limes, and the list goes on, and then there are flavors like coffee, caramel and even chocolate. I have even heard of brewers using spices like cinnamon, rosemary and star anise. Not only can they incorporate those things, but the malts to are used to determine the color/style of beer. Yeast, it is also a very important part of the brewing process and there are different strains of yeast even! Yes, I know right! Who could have thought a brewer has options in what yeast he/she uses. Last but not least, hops, there are hundreds of different varieties of hops that all have there own unique flavors to them and add great flavor to any beer if done properly. So with all these, lets call them tools, it is pretty amazing the different types of flavors can be made. Oh! I almost forgot! There is a new trend I have noticed lately and full heatedly stand by! Brewers are using old bourbon and whiskey barrels to age primarily their stouts and porters! And let me tell you these beers are fantastic! I would personally consider craft beer a type of art form based on what I just described above.
Yeah I know I got a little off topic, but hey whats wrong with being a little passionate right! I did though forget to mention that Coulee Brews' staff are very friendly and inviting and have a good working knowledge of their beers....well the bartender when I was there did anyways. Moreover, Coulee Brew has a pretty cool growler that comes in a one liter can! or just the two liter growler. So to sum up Coulee Brew in a nut shell, good beer (for the most part), great atmosphere, and good people I would recommend Coulee Brew to anybody coming through Lethbridge, Alberta. I would rate this brewery a solid 7/10.
If you want to know more I have attached a link to Coulee Brews website if you want to look at their selection of beers couleebrew.co
Please Comment if you have any questions of concerns, I welcome feedback and positive discussion.
Disclaimer:I would like to express that these are my personal preferences and tastes and do not reflect the overall quality of the beers and that I firmly believe everybody has their own tastes and preferences. Also, I am not a professional beer connoisseur and like I previously stated these experiences are my own.
So, who likes beer? I do! The craft beer and brewery scene is blowing up here in Alberta, Canada. They are everywhere and it seems like every time I go the the liquor store there is a new brewery that I have never heard of before. I started to be interested in craft beer about 2 years ago and have not looked back since. I am a 26 year old, married father of one... so far and I have worked as a correctional officer for over the past six years. Anyways, enough about me, lets get back to the topic, beer! Why all of a sudden did the craft brew scene blow up? Who cares! Its awesome and I do not think anyone is complaining about it.
Sure, I have a couple of favorite breweries already but I want to get out of this rut and try beer from different breweries and that is why i started this blog so that I can write and tell people about these breweries, AND try new beer! But, I have also become accustomed to my palate and I know what I like and don't like. I have really grown into loving the "darker the better" for instance a nice Stout or Porter. I do though enjoy my red ales, blonds, Light, Pilsner and Browns. Yes! I left out a particular style of beer and that is the IPA, I left it out for a reason and the reason being that I find it is really easy sometimes, unknown to the brewery, but to screw it up and make a terrible beer. I have my reservations with IPA's because I have had some horrific IPA's that leave your throat with a dry and over-the-top hoppy finish which to me is not a taste I enjoy. Yes there are good and delicious IPA's and other styles of beers with the added hops, but I find that sometimes there are some beers that just can not get the ratios/ mixtures right and come out with terrible beers. I will get into that in future posts!
My main goal with this blog is to along my travels through the province stop by breweries and try their beer and share my experiences. No, I am not going to drive to the brewery located the farthest North in Alberta as I do not have the resources, although, if a beer from one of these breweries happens to make its way down here into one of my favorite, local beer supporting liquor stores I will definitely grab a six pack. I do not know what sort of following I am going to get, but the main point of this blog is to share with you new breweries, my experiences at these breweries (if possible) and their beer. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with everyone and hope you all enjoy this blog and I look forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions.
My plan for my next post is to drop by one of my local craft breweries here in Lethbridge, AB and try their beers and share my experience. Stay tuned! and happy drinking, but be responsible!!!