Craft Beer for Cowboys (and girls!)

During the infamous Calgary Stampede we all like to live vicariously through the life of the rugged cowboy and girl. Most of us city folk seem to be sadly mistaken that being a cowboy means drinking our beer like water and partying ’til dawn under a hot, sweaty, body-filled party tent whilst scantily clad, but we do what we can to show the support for those real-life cowboys out at the rodeo and chuck wagon races during stampede. Regardless of what the life of true western folk is really like, The Greatest Show on Earth only happens once a year and us hard-working Calgarians are entitled to relish in it; kick back, relax, enjoy a nice cold craft beer and party ’til dawn!

Big Rock Brewery-Purple Gas (photo credit-Big Rock's website)

Big Rock Brewery-Purple Gas (photo credit-Big Rock’s website)

During stampede the days are long and hot, so one of the key ingredients to remaining a hydrated and coherent cowboy or girl is a nice cold and refreshing beer. Put down that keister kickin’ Jack Daniels and push aside that high-alcohol Black Label and ace-high by grabbing one of these delicious brews, two of which are brewed freshly in our own neighborhood. After-all it is the finale of Stampede 2014 and with the many stellar music acts, grandstand shows and party tents to fit in over the next couple days you’ll thank me on Monday.  :)

To start out I’d like to congratulate Big Rock Brewery for the wild success of this one last year! Success so wild that its returned in a six-pack on it’s own this summer. This beer is called Purple Gas and is classically named after the engine gasoline that was once dyed a hint of purple to prevent farmers from using the same gas in their vehicles when leaving the farm. Purple Gas fruit wheat ale has a curious mix of agave nectar and Saskatoon berries but packs a whole ton of beer punch rather than washing your taste buds away with a sweet and fruity flavour profile. This beer was intended to create the taste of hot summer on the prairies, and at 5.2% it’ll keep you going with lots of flavour to enjoy, though remaining low in alcohol to quench your thirst. Purple gas is brewed with a blend of two hops and malt and goes wonderfully with Spoloumbo’s chicken blueberry sausage on a kaiser bun.

Last Best Brewing (photo credit-Last Best's website)

Last Best Brewing (photo credit-Last Best’s website)

The next beer I’d like to showcase for all you rowdy stampeding Calgarians is by a brand new brewery to the city, Last Best Brewing and Distilling and is called Show Pony Pale Ale. This one is for you typical Molson and Labatt swilling cowboys and girls but with far better quality than what you’re used to. Brewed with a few different hops, it sure has a well-balanced flavour profile, with just a hint of bitterness and a touch of fruit derived from the hops, finishing off with a pleasant but moderate maltiness. This is a good ol’ session pale ale at 5% that goes great with BBQ chicken or beef on a bun.

Photo credit-www.thrillist.com

Photo credit-www.thrillist.com

Finally, one of my favourite go-to summer beers is Saison Diego (Farmhouse Saison) by a brewery out of San Diego, Green Flash Brewing Company. This ones brewed in the old Belgian farmhouse style and is available only seasonally by the brewery. It’s loaded with citrus notes, hints of ginger and orange peel with just a subtle balance of sweet and sour. If you’re looking for a full bodied crisp beer with lots of fruit notes you’ll love this one! Pair with any triple cream cheese such as Brillat Savarin which is available at Springbank Cheese Company.

No matter what beer you reach for during the final weekend of the 2014 Calgary Stampede, drink responsibly and stay hydrated!

Cheers!

Beer for a Good Cause-July 4 at Bottlescrew Bills (Calgary)

Check out the teaser video created by Good Old Fridge

Check out the teaser video created by Good Old Fridge

There are countless reasons to consume craft beer during this time of year; it’s thirst quenching, the recipes are the epitome of summer-time, and it brings people together. There’s one more reason best of all why Calgarians should be drinking craft beer, and that’s because it’s for a good cause on July 4, 2014 at Bottlescrew Bills! It is just a few days away until the annual Village NUTRaiser: Prairie Oyster Ale Fundraiser put on by Village Brewery and Bottlescrew Bills. In true spirit of Village Brewery and Calgarians, each pint ($100) purchased will go towards the Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre. Support this good cause and head down for the fun at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 4, as you don’t want to miss the cask being tapped at 5:30 p.m. sharp. Let’s top the $10,000 raised in 2013 with Village Brewery’s Prairie Oyster Cask beer! This ballsy beer that’s flavoured with bulls balls is the best way to do your part in conquering cancer, and the perfect way to kick off your 2014 Stampede festivities!

Cheers!

 

Health Benefits of Beer!

Photo Credit-www.thefutureofhealthnow.com

Photo Credit-www.thefutureofhealthnow.com

Hello all you beautiful craft beer lovers! I’m very sorry about taking so darn long to post and I apologize! I can imagine you are all stoked on the fact that the weather is finally turning itself around and the patio weather we love so much is nearly upon us. Get ready to raise those glasses of tasty craft beer for the summer.

In light of summer activities, sports and outdoor fun that we all like to indulge in along-side a nice cold beer, I wanted to enlighten you all on the many health benefits of beer, especially craft beer. Now you can enjoy the summer heat with beer in hand, and sans guilt. Well…with the important note to drink in moderation, responsibly as there is such thing as too much of a good thing!

My inspiration for documenting these health benefits come from two places; The documentary ‘How Beer Saved the World’, a film that all beer lovers MUST see, and the second is because I am a soon-to-be mamma, come September, so my health and my baby’s health, once baby comes is of the utmost importance. I am able to reap the benefits of beer even now throughout my pregnancy, though minus the alcohol-hello non-alcoholic beer. I don’t encourage you to go out and pick-up any number of brands as I wouldn’t say they are nearly as delicious as good ol’ true craft beer, nor nearly as much of the selection.

The History of Beer:

Beer has been around for hundreds of thousands of years and is one of the oldest beverages that humans have produced. There is a theory that the agricultural revolution (at around 9,000 B.C.) came to be because of the need to create beer. Discovery of beer even established modern health care and can be considered one of the greatest inventions. This was just the start of this great beverage that now claims many health benefits worth sharing.

Nursing Perks for Mammas:

All you expectant mammas out there will be happy to hear that my first health related benefit to highlight is that a molecule called polysaccharide found in barley that is used to brew beer actually simulates prolactin in breast milk which ultimately helps with milk production for your baby. Non-alcoholic will do the same. It’s important to mention not to drink immediately before you plan to nurse. Ahh, one of the many benefits I look forward to come September.

Vitamin B, Fiber and Lactoflain…oh my!:

Beer is a healthy source of fiber, it contains B Vitamins and event lactoflavin and nicotinic acid to induce sleep. Darker beer has approximately 1.3 to 2 grams of fiber per serving and 0.8 to 2 grams of fiber for lighter beer. The benefit of consuming fiber can promote healthy blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, ultimately helping to reduce risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Cheers to a stronger heart! The yeast used to brew beer contains B6 and a bottle of beer can provide up to 12.5 percent of the recommended requirement of B6 which is also of benefit to the heart. By sticking to craft beer rather than commercially brewed, you are also doing your health a huge favour by avoiding preservatives and additives used to artificially add colour and flavour to beer.

These and many more health benefits are attributed to the great beverage of beer. However it’s important to remember that when drunk in excess beer can actually cause unwanted weight gain and rid your body of important vitamins and minerals, so stick to moderation; no more than 1 or 2 a day. So now you know! Go on out and enjoy (in moderation) some cold ones out on the patio or at home on the back deck all summer!

Cheers!

Beer Olympics:Award-Winning Canadian Beer

It has been nearly a week since the official close of the 2014 Sochi Winter olympics in Russia, and if you’re going through serious withdrawal like me, then I have the perfect solution! I’ve compiled a list of award-winning Canadian craft beer from 2013 from some of my favourite style categories. Beer festivals from all over North America are getting ready for spring/summer so get ready to check out these award winners before going out to try some of the 2014 award winners.

Photo credit, Mt. Begbie website

Photo credit, Mt. Begbie website

Light Hybrid Beer: If you like a refreshing light beer with citrus undertones, try…

Silver-High Country Kolsch, Mt. Begbie Brewing Co. (Light Hybrid at the Calgary International Beer Fest)

Photo credit: Propeller Brewery website

Photo credit: Propeller Brewery website

Boheman Style Pilsner: If you like a pilsner with a touch of sweetness and a refreshing bitter finish try…

Silver-Propeller Pilsner, Propeller Brewery, Nova Scotia (Bohemian Style Pilsner at the Canadian Brewing Awards  in Fredericton, NB)

Photo credit: OK Spring website

Photo credit: OK Spring website

Lager: If you like a clear golden lager with balanced bitterness and malt try…

Gold-Okanagan spring 1516, Okanagan Spring Brewery, B.C. (North American style premium lager at the Canadian Beer Awards in Fredericton, NB)

Kellerbier: If you like a light crisp brew with hits of apple and a floral nose try…

Silver-Central City Kellerbier, Central City Brewing, B.C. (Kellerbier at the Canadian Brewing Awards, Victoria, B.C.)

Wheat/Wit/Rye: If you like a beer with complex spice and fruit notes try…

Bronze-Belgian Wit, Mill Street Brewery, Ontario (Belgian Wit at the Calgary International Beer Fest)

American Ale: If you like a dry beer with complex citrus and bitter notes try…

Gold-Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale, Parallel 49 Brewery, B.C. (American Ale at the Calgary International Beer Fest)

Photo credit: Central City website

Photo credit: Central City website

North American Style Amber/Red Ale:If you like a beer with balanced caramel and coffee notes try…

Gold-Red Racer ESB, Central City Brewing, B.C.  (ESB at the Canadian Beer Awards in Fredericton, NB)

Photo credit: Big Rock website

Photo credit: Big Rock website

Domestic Ale: If you like a beer with warm vanilla, toffee and hits of oak try…

Gold-Scottish Heavy – Big Rock Brewery, Alberta (Domestic Ale at the Calgary International Beer Fest)

 UK Ales: If you like a beer with toasted notes and subtle bitterness try…

Bronze-Pumphouse SOB, Pumphouse Brewery, New Brunswick (UK Ales at the Calgary International Beer Fest)

Photo credit: Pumphouse Brewery website

Photo credit: Pumphouse Brewery website

Fruit Beer: If you like a beer with crisp, peppery blueberry notes try…

Bronze-Pumphouse Blueberry Ale, Pumphouse Brewery, New Brunswick (Fruit Beer at the Canadian Brewing Awards  in Fredericton, NB)

North American IPA: If you like a beer with medium citrus hops and tropical fruit characteristics try…

Silver-Flying Monkeys Smashbomb, Flying Monkeys Brewery, Ontario (North American IPA at the Ontario Brewing Awards)

Imperial India Pale Ale: If you like a strong beer with pine hops, bready but sweet malt try…

Gold-Imperial IPA, Central City Brewing, B.C.  (Imperial IPA at the Canadian Beer Awards in Fredericton, NB)

Photo credit:Amsterdam Brewery website

Photo credit:Amsterdam Brewery website

Bock: If you like a strong beer with hits of dried fruit notes try…

Silver-Amsterdam Spring Bock, Amsterdam brewery, Ontario (Traditional German Style Bock at the Canadian Beer Awards in Fredericton, NB)

Porter: If you like a rich, strong beer with hints of coffee and dark chocolate notes try…

Gold-Pothole Porter, Half Pints Brewing Co., Manitoba (Strong Baltic Porter at the Canadian Beer Awards in Fredericton, NB)

Enjoy these brews and go on our during beer fest season to pick out your own award-winning beers. These will be sure to cure your blues from missing this years winter olympics.

Cheers!

Must-Have Brews for Super Bowl XLVIII

As the Seahawks and Broncos get ready to kick off Super Bowl XLVIII, you’ll want to be prepared with the perfect beers for the occasion. Gear-up with your jersey, stock the living room with some staple Super Bowl eats and crack a beer while cheering on your team! These beers will be sure to put you in the Super Bowl spirit and some may even make you feel like you’re right there on the sidelines in New York watching the game.

Now let’s be honest, most Super Bowl parties involve the pre-show, the entire game and reliving some of the highlights with friends following the game. That said, your Super Bowl party this Sunday may very well be a nearly full-day event, so drink responsibly. These beers will quench your thirst, and with lower alcohol content will allow you to be the first one standing at each touchdown.

Photo Credit-http://www.shmaltzbrewing.com

Photo Credit-http://www.shmaltzbrewing.com

In the spirit of Super Bowl taking place in New York, the first choice beer is straight out of upstate New York from Schmaltz Brewing Company, one of the top 100 brewers in the world. Messiah Nut Brown Ale by Schmaltz is one of my favourites from their portfolio, as it’s easy drinking, has a very nice balance of malt and roasted notes and finishes with just a touch of chocolate. Cheers to your teams first touchdown with a glass of this paired with some messy bbq chicken wings.

Photo Credit-http://brooklynbrewery.com

Photo Credit-http://brooklynbrewery.com

If a traditional lager is more your style, Brooklyn Brewery out of Brooklyn, New York makes a Vienna style lager simply titled ‘Brooklyn Lager’. This nice crisp lager has lots of refreshing flavour with just ever so subtle floral hop notes. The caramel-copper hue must be admired by pouring into a proper flute beer glass. Brooklyn Lager pairs nicely with any number of different dishes, though is a great palate cleanser with chili dogs and cheesy dips.

Photo Credit-Instigator Communications c/o Guy McClelland

Photo Credit-Instigator Communications c/o Guy McClelland

Check out these next Belgian brew which will pair great with stews and chili or roasted beer nuts. PALM is your classic Belgian brew with just gentle banana aroma from the yeast and warm bready malt notes. The malts used are very mildly sweet, making this Belgian beer a great one to enjoy for those that are new to Belgian beer. The full body and moderate carbonation of PALM proves perfect when paired with rich meaty dishes. If you’re interested in trying some other great European beers, check out the infographic below; there’s a beer to please every palate.

Photo Credit-Instigator Communications, c/o Guy McClelland

Photo Credit-Instigator Communications, c/o Guy McClelland

For you local Calgarians out there, these next two are from two local breweries. Tool Shed Brewing is the hottest brewery to hit Calgary in the past year. Their beer is brewed by two craft beer loving dudes that started out brewing beer, well…ever so fittingly in their back tool shed. They currently brew three beers; An IPA named Star Cheek, a red ale Red Rage and an easy sipping cream ale named People Skills. People Skills I’ve chosen as a must-have for the Super Bowl. Grab a six-pack of these and share with friends. People Skills is an easy-drinking session ale that pairs perfectly with pizza or pulled chicken sandwiches. It’s a creamy, thirst-quenching beer that is balanced well with light hop notes and smooth malt.  Big Rock has just released their first of 13 beers for 2014, and this first one to kick things off is a tasty ESB called Fowl Mouth. This is part of the Brewmasters Edition Series and is extra-special bitter brewed with actual UK Fuggles Hops as well as East Kent Golding Hops and three different types of malt. This one has lots of complex notes of citrus and warm malt which balances out the hop and malt beautifully. Get this one while you can as it is out for a limited time.

Whatever your plans are for Super Bowl, enjoy responsibly and pair with your favourite Super Bowl grub.

Cheers!

12 Beers of Christmas-Day 10 (Phillips Trainwreck Barley Wine)

It’s an honour to announce day 10 day post done by a guest blogger, Tom Dyer of thebeerblogger.ca. Please read on for Tom’s write-up about Phillips Trainwreck. Thanks Tom for your contribution.

Photo credit-canadianbeernews.ca

Photo credit-canadianbeernews.ca

While it’s easy to ‘spruce’ up your beer selection with some winter seasonals, or step ‘ginger’ly into spice beers during Christmas (and resisting the urge to make a ‘Don’t slip on the Eis’ or a ‘Naughty or Eis’ Eisbock joke), I always turn towards the rich malt flavours of a big barley wine to keep me warm during the colder season. Victoria’s Phillips Brewing Company returns for the fourth year in a row with the 2013 edition of their Trainwreck Barley Wine. Weighing in at a hardy 10% ABV and available in 650mL bombers; heed the warning label and be “careful not to derail your caboose”.

Best enjoyed a little warmer than not, Trainwreck is deep reddish amber in colour with an off-white head and provides a sweet nose with notes of caramel. Aging in wet bourbon barrels gives it a smooth body that carries the caramel flavour and mixes it with hints of vanilla and big, malty overtones. The long finish dries out slightly and brings out the trademark sourness associated with whiskey-barrel aged beers. In contrast with some other strong beers, Trainwreck’s high alcohol content is only noticeable from the pleasant feeling of warmth it spreads from head to toe.

Although some argue that it’s more of a ’strong ale’, as it lacks the fruitiness or nutty flavours of a typical barely wine, pairing it with nothing but good company and a warm fire provides the perfect finish to a winter dinner or family gathering.

Remember, don’t drink more. Drink better!

Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year!

T.

12 Beers of Christmas-Day 8&9 (Village Monk & Grizzly Paw Rutting Elk Red)

Happy Christmas Eve day to everyone! I hope you’re all taking the time to visit with family over a nice cold beer. I’m lucky to have my sister here from Whistler, B.C. and my mother and step-father from Dundas, Ontario for the holidays. In celebration we’ve picked up a couple great beers, among others.

Photo Credit-Village Brewery website

Photo Credit-Village Brewery website

Village Brewery, brews a limited edition called Village Monk, which is a chai winter porter. When everyone’s sipping on mulled wine this is my holiday go-to. It has tons of seasonal notes; everything from cloves, cardamom, chocolate, mint and ginger to hints of fennel and peppercorn. It’s very balanced with a subtle mint finish and a nice roasted malt profile. The Monk is available in growlers and on tap at many Calgary pubs. Grab a growler or two for the holidays. I’ve enjoyed a glass with a chocolately caramel Turtle on the side. It was delicious!!

For those that enjoy a more medium bodied ale, try Grizzly Paw Brewery’s Rutting Elk Red. This scottish style beer is great aside roasted peanuts or with a prime rib meal. It’s dark copper in colour and has delicate roasted and toasted notes and caramel in the finish. This is a great session beer for the holidays at 5.2% and with medium carbonation.

Photo Credit-Grizzly Paw Brewery website

Photo Credit-Grizzly Paw Brewery website

Thanks for keeping tuned in to the 12 Beers of Christmas! Stay tuned for the final three brews to get you through Christmas Day. The final brew will be posted on Boxing Day and will be a great one to celebrate with after a fun but tiresome holiday!

Cheers!

12 Beers of Christmas-Day 6&7 (WRB Cherry Porter & Rogue Chocolate Stout)

Well I must admit, due to some serious Christmas party-ing this weekend I failed to post day 6 of the 12 Beers of Christmas. I’ll be featuring two wonderfully delicious brews today, two of which I’ve indulged in this weekend at National on 10th (Calgary, AB). They are both big, bold and tastily rich. What can I say, I kinda owe it to you after skipping out on yesterdays beer of the day.

Photo credit-Wild Rose Brewery website

Photo credit-Wild Rose Brewery website

The first one, Wild Rose Brewery’s Cherry Porter, is one I look forward to each winter. It reminds me of black forest cake in liquid form with some knock-out cherry and mocha notes. It’s brewed with only the juiciest and plump B.C. cherries, giving it a delicate fruitiness that’s balanced with rich, roasted malt notes. A strong yet smooth beer at 6.6% with just ever so slight dark bitter chocolate notes in the finish. Cherry Porter is available starting in November each year and is available for a limited time, until stores/pubs run out, and you can be sure they will, and fast! Available in 1L swing-top bottles or on tap. Enjoy with your favourite Christmas cookies or fudge.

Photo credit-Rogue Brewery website

Photo credit-Rogue Brewery website

So this next one, though available all year round, is Rogue Brewery’s Chocolate Stout and sure packs a ton of rich chocolate punch. The recognition in awards that this beer has received is only a small testament to its wealth of flavours and superior quality. It is even the only US beer to have won an award at the Mondial de la Biere Festival in Strasbourg, FranceIt is hands-down my favourite stout with creamy and sweet chocolate notes, full-body from rolled-oats; it’s the perfect combination of bitter and sweet. Fun fact about this beer; the recipe for this beer was created a number of years ago for export to Japan. Sip on Rogue’s Chocolate Stout paired with a chocolate truffle atop a dollop of candy cane ice cream-yum!

-Cheers!

12 Beers of Christmas-Day 5 (Muskoka Brewery, Winter Beard)

Photo credit-Muskoka Brewery website

Photo credit-Muskoka Brewery website

I’m going back to my roots with this next one; a beer brewed in the province I’m from and in one of my most favourite places in the entire world, Muskoka. Winter Beard, Muskoka Brewery’s seasonal beer is a smooth creamy double chocolate cranberry stout at a whopping 8% ABV. There’s nothing that screams winter warmer more than notes of rich chocolate and cranberry in your beer

Winter Beard is brewed with actual cocoa and bitter (70%) chocolate, fresh and locally harvested cranberries and roasted dark chocolate malts to give it a rich deep colour. It has a silky mouthfeel with just ever so subtle cranberry undertones and a pleasant cocoa bitterness in the finish. It comes packaged nicely in a large corked bottled, is great for an after dinner night-cap, or as a gift for that beer lover in our life. On second thought, keep it for yourself…you’ll thank me after you take one sip! Enjoy Winter Beard in a nice snifter style glass and at a cool, not cold temperature.

‘Tis the season to indulge in rich, creamy and chocolately beer!

-Cheers!

12 Beers of Christmas-Day 4 (Granville Island, Lions Winter Ale)

Image

Photo Credit-Granville Island Brewing website

I had the pleasure of visiting the Granville Island Brewery this past October and was honoured to meet brewmaster Vern Lambourne. They had just finished brewing and shipping the seasonal pumpkin ale, The Pumpkining, that I enjoyed every ounce of on tap in Vancouver, and back in Calgary in the bottle. Since the fall, Granville has switched over to serving the infamous Lions Winter Ale for the winter season. This gem is available from October to March to keep you warm and toasty through the winter. This year is a very special one for the brewery as it marks the 10th Anniversary of Lion’s Winter Ale-It’s THAT good! This isn’t the brewery’s first milestone; they were Canada’s first microbrewery and have been in operation for nearly 30 years!

Lions Winter Ale is the epitome of a seasonal winter brew with warm chocolate, vanilla and caramel notes. The blend of the flavours are neither too sweet or over-powering and one sip is like a warm blanket over your taste buds. Pair with bacon wrapped pork tenderloin or aside your Christmas lamb, even turkey! Or enjoy it the way I love to; curled up on the couch with a warm blanket while watching your favourite Christmas flicks.

For you seasonal beer fans in eastern Canada, such as Ontario, you’re lucky to be able to find this one in LCBO and other stores with the wider distribution of this brew since Creemore Springs bought the company in 2009. No matter how you enjoy this one, Lions Winter Ale will be sure to bring back memories of the winter before.

-Cheers!