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!