Calgary International Beerfest 2015

Another Calgary International Beerfest has come and gone and I was thrilled to participate in this year’s festivities with so many new trends and breweries in attendance.

For the past six years that I’ve resided in Calgary I’ve been given the incredible opportunity to be part of the festival as event staff/representative for Big Rock Brewery and head judge for beer fest, and I’ve always had my finger on the pulse of the world of craft beer. Since being away from the wonderful world of craft beer due to the arrival of my daughter in September, I’ve never felt more out of the loop with the craft beer scene until now. The festival was most rewarding to me this year than any other year as I discovered so many new products and was really able to look to the expertise of others in the craft beer scene from various breweries as to what they noticed is currently on trend and what to look for in the coming year. Jim Button, Co-Founder of Village Brewery was one of the many people I was lucky to speak with that pointed out the growing popularity of session ales. I seemed to notice a large number of beer forward fruit beers such as Village Brewery’s new Village Triplet, sours, as well as casks that Big Rock, Bottlescrew Bills (Wild Rose Brewery’s SOB with citrus) and Village Brewery were tapping, and this is just to name a few.

My Festival Highlights:

Big Rock was featuring the Kentucky Kicker aged cask; loaded with warm bourbon notes, vanilla, and a touch of sweetness to balance the 10.5% strength. Not to my surprise, this bad boy went very fast on the first day of the festival.

Driftwood Brewery, one of the new breweries to attend the festival this year is out of Victoria, B.C. They were featuring a few different beers from their portfolio, one of which was New Growth Pale Ale. This high ibu (about 80) is a session ale with tons of fresh floral and crisp citrus notes. It drinks like an IPA with the bitterness of two different hops; Centennial and Newport, but very refreshing!

Dandy Brewing Company, yup another new brewery and first nano-brewery to Calgary, was also a newbie to the festival this year. They were pouring a sour that was probably the most balanced sour I’ve had to date, though not a permanent item to Dandy’s portfolio that I’m aware of at the moment, their other beers, Dandy in the Underworld Oyster Stout and The Golden Brown Dandy Ale are definitely worth a try.

Tool Shed Brewery was pouring an unfiltered IPA, which was one of my favourites, in addition to their regular line-up of beers. I’m so incredibly proud of these guys for all the work they’ve done to accomplish what they have in such a short time. The IPA was beautifully golden hued with delicious grapefruit notes.

Yukon Brewing I think blew me out of of the water the most for just the number of new beers they have released as of recent. Keep in mind I’ve been living under a keg for around a year :) Bonanza Brown, a nutty brown beer with hints of chocolate is top notch! Yukon Holiday, a kolsch great for the summer has tasty apple notes and lots of bubbles. This one is a for sure cooler staple come the summer heat. Exciting news from Yukon to top off the availability of these new beers, they will soon have available in Calgary a haskap berry liquor and single malt whiskey.

Two Sergeants Brewing Inc. out of Fort Saskatchewan, AB is a soon-to-be brew pub and was pouring their 100 ibu IPA. I’m not sure how the heck they did it but they managed to keep this high ibu brew surprisingly balanced with caramel malt, and subtle dry pine notes.

Two new breweries to become available in Calgary and represented by Horizon are Stone Brewing Co. and Boulevard Brewing Co. I had a chance to try Stone’s Coffee Milk Stout for the first time and for those of you that know me well, a stout is one of my weaknesses, especially a milk stout. It was nice and creamy with a hint of bitter chocolate notes. I tried Boulevard’s Single-Wide IPA and was impressed by the citrusy notes balanced by a touch of honey and bitterness that was just right and did not linger.

These are just some of my favourites from the 2015 Calgary International Beer Festival, and I look forward to exploring more of what Calgary craft breweries have in store for us this year!

Cheers!

Valentine’s Day Edition-Move Over Champagne!

It’s that time of year when rich chocolate and bubbly go hand in hand. Whether celebrating Valentine’s Day with your better half or heck, with a group of friends, here is some great bubbly that’s definitely not your typical champagne.

If you’re a rich, dark chocolate fan such as myself, the first beer to celebrate with is from Dieu du Ciel Brewery, and the title itself screams romance. It’s called Aphrodisiaque and it’s a creamy chocolate stout. This is a bottled up death by chocolate cake with a serious kick! It has a smooth yet intoxicating blend of sweet vanilla, rich and ever so slightly bitter cocoa. Its beautiful auburn head sits nicely while giving off vanilla, dark chocolate and malt aromas. This can be paired with chocolate covered strawberries or a berry trifle drizzled with dark chocolate. Be sure to serve in a wine glass or snifter for the occasion and to appreciate the exotic flavours, sip at a warmer temperature of ~50 degrees.

A big thank you to Booze Reviews (www.boozereviews.ca) for introducing me to this next gem, Flying Monkeys The Chocolate Manifesto. If you’re familiar with this brewery out of Toronto, you’ll know that they are always releasing dangerously delicious seasonal and limited edition brews. This velvety thick, rich and intensely chocolate imperial stout at 10% is a must for any chocolate and craft beer fan. It is on the sweeter end of the spectrum than the Aphrodisiaque by Dieu du Ciel and comes in a larger bottle, perfect for sharing with that special someone. Pair this one with a new york cheese cake drizzled in caramel and topped with berries or a light Tiramisu.

This last libation for your Valentine’s Day is not a beer but a cider, and is a great palate cleanser for in between each of the above brews. It could even be a replacement for champagne on any given occasion if you’d looking for something more crisp and refreshing but with the same amount of bubbles and less alcohol. Rock Creek by Big Rock Brewery is a great dry cider that coincidentally enough is made with champagne yeast so though it’s not a champagne it’s got all the bubbles that champagne has. Rock Creek is made with just a hint of cinnamon and vanilla, Okanagan apples, pears. Enjoy this cider in a champagne flute for the occasion and pair with a soft cheese such as Brie or Camembert  warmed up and topped with slices of baked apples and caramelized pecans.

There you have it, rich dessert-like beer that almost puts champagne and strawberries to shame. No matter who you will be celebrating or commiserating Valentine’s Day with this year, enjoy it with these tasty treats!

Cheers!

Shop the Neighbourhood-Craft Beer Edition

In celebration of the Yellow Pages Shop the Neighbourhood initiative on November 29, I have put together a compilation of my favourite  shops in my hood, Inglewood (formerly the Brewery Flats) in Calgary, AB as well as a couple within the core of the city. Each shop will have a perfect gift for you to give that beer lover in your life for the holidays.

Zyn

Zyn, situated just next to the old Calgary Brewery off of 9th Avenue has always been known for their expansive array of not just wine but beer. The sales staff are extremely knowledgeable about the products and can always suggest the perfect beer (or wine) for a gift or to pair with any meal. Zyn’s wall of beer has just recently expanded and they’ve brought in some new labels such as Stone Brewing Company (Escondido, CA) and Ninkasi Brewing (Eugene, OR). Check out the diverse selection of beer for your holiday dinner or as a gift for the beer lover in your life.

Kent of Inglewood

This new vendor to the hood is known for their selection of fine shaving items but they also carry a small selection of bar equipment such as glassware and tools. Since I believe that every good beer should be served in fine glassware, they have a perfect set (also sold individually) of stainless steel beer glasses for that beer lover that has everything! They are produced by a Japanese company, Yahi Wa, and there are three different sizes ranging in prices from $58 to $68. This will take beer drinking to a whole new level when sipping on a festive beer in front of the fire over the holidays.

17th Ave Liquor Boutique

Brand new to 17th Avenue in downtown Calgary, this shop is excited to launch in just a couple weeks. Look forward to their craft beer growler fill station, ready just in time for the holidays and perfect for the last minute shopper out there. Growlers are a great host gift!

Last Best Brewing & Distillery

One of Calgary’s newest breweries, Last Best, owned and operated by Bear Hill Brewing Company, has been housed in the former Brew Brothers digs in the Beltline for nearly a year now. Last Best is available on tap at select establishments across the city such as Craft Beer Market, National Beer Hall and Beer Revolution just to name a few.

Support your local business owners by shopping at these vendors and many more to satisfy your craft beer needs over the holidays and beyond!

Cheers!

Big…BOLD…Brews…Oh my!

 

Happy (almost) Halloween everyone! I owe you a big apology as being a new mother has caused me to fall off the map for a few months! I’ve been blessed with a little girl, and as amazing as the last year has been awaiting her arrival and getting accustomed to life as a stay-at-home mom, I’ve missed you all and truly being able to immerse myself into the wonderful world of craft beer! The fortunate thing is that since I’ve returned to the scene, I’ve been so lucky to try a number of new beers, and luckily they have all been the big and bold (my fave!) So just in time for Halloween, I’ve put together a few that I’ve tasted that are just perfect for your seasonal festivities and heck yes, some even pair well with candy and sweets!

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had an appreciation for what I like to call ‘statement’ beers. These are craft beers that are of a certain style and the brewer has taken it to a whole new level adding even bigger, bolder flavour profiles. I’m a huge fan of dopplebocks, stouts and porters so these are just the brews that I have to suggest for you today.

Smoky treat-Rauchbier 

Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche out of Bamberg, Germany gave me the pleasure of trying one of their ‘Rauchbier’ brews. Though this beer is brewed similar to tradition, the brewer has swapped out beech wood for oak. For those of you unfamiliar with this style, it is a traditional German style beer and is the method of adding smoke to the beer by drying malt over an open flame. This is an ancient style of brewing beer that goes way back to as early as first century BC. This method creates a flavour profile that is not for the faint at heart, as the final product is complex and aromatic with lots of bold smokiness. Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche has been brewing this style beer for nearly two centuries now and this experience shows upon one sip of  their beer. I tried their Dopplebock Rauchbier in particular. For those of you that know me well, Dopplebock is my all time favourite style, so this combination was a delight to try. I really enjoyed the balance of the smokiness from the Oak Smoke Malt and the bitterness of Hallertau hop. There was a nice hint of caramel in the finish which minimized an overpowering smoke bitterness. At 8% and with the boldness that this beer offers, the .5 L bottle is suffice for one person to indulge in or perfect when treating a friend to half. I tried this one with roasted pumpkin seeds and a mini Cadbury Crunchie chocolate bar. The chocolate bar really brought out the caramel notes and enhanced the toasted flavour in the pumpkin seeds. I’m really ready for the trick or treaters now with this pairing. If you’re looking for a dinner pairing, this one’s great with ribs or any bbq or smoked meats.

Stout with a kick

This next one, brewed by Big Rock is a treat, as all of Paul Gautreau’s renditions are. This brewmaster has a way with taking an already delicious style beer and making it better! I’m no plain jane, and I certainly don’t like my beers as such. The vast variety and possibility for experimentation with craft beer is why I’ve fallen in love with it. In Big Rock’s latest mix pack ‘Barn Burner’ there are two new limited edition brews featured; Steel Cut Oatmeal Raisin Stout and Thresher Wheat Lager. Since we’re going BIG today I’d like to share with you all that there is to love about the stout. This is a must try stout for a true craft beer lover and is nothing short of big flavour but with all the potential of being a session beer at 5.5%. This unique stout is brewed with oats, a multitude of malt and Nelson Sauvin and East Kent Golding hops. This is not to be mistaken with the flavour of your grandma’s oatmeal raisin cookies! The hints of raisin or dried fruit notes envelope your taste buds ever so slightly, bringing the rich maltiness to the forefront and leaving you with just a pinch of bitterness from the hop. The oats do a wonderful job of creating a creamy, velvety smooth texture. All these lovely characteristics will be sure to leave you even more satisfied than taking a bite out of  your grandma’s fresh-baked goods (don’t tell her though!) Pair this up with a bbq glazed chicken thigh and roasted potatoes topped with caramelized onions.

Punchy porter

This next one is of a style that is my next best friend to Dopplebocks, specifically because of the body and that they are a sipping beer with the high alcohol content. Lil’ B Porter by Evil Twin Brewing packs a punch, and is a great beer to have along side dark chocolate, so naturally I’m a fan. This beer is so full-bodied and bold, I challenge you to find another one with as much rich fruitiness and creamy mouthfeel. There is chocolate and slight coffee on the nose with a slight bitterness and equal sweetness of dried raisins and black cherries in the finish. It is nicely balanced and silky smooth at a dangerous 11.5%. Pair Lil’ B with dark chocolate all the way!

Enjoy these bold gems for your Halloween festivities this weekend!

Cheers!

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.