Well we’re back into the thick of the tasting season! We’re up on the 2nd anniversary of two of Alberta’s new breweries (namely Blindman and Dandy) and I figured it was a good time to take a bit of a taste test of some of the newest local beers to hit the scene! See who’s pushing quality, and raising the bar! See who’s playing it safe and pleasing the crowd! There were some interesting results which I’ll share near the end!
We tasted through a delicious range of local goodies while snacking on some tasty treats from Peasant Cheese Shop. So without further ado, meet the locals!
River Session ale by Blindman Brewing: The staple beer of a soon-to-be veteran Alberta brewer (2 years old now!?) is a flavourful session IPA with a fresh hoppy character, moderate citrus and grassy tones and a biscuity malt body. ($14.79 for a 4-pack of tall cans)
Golden Brown Dandy by The Dandy Brewing Company: This is the 2nd anniversary bottling of their staple English pale. This batch is made with Gleneagles Maris Otter malt, and a brand new variety of English hops called Jester (actually the first batch of this to leave the country). It has wonderfully robust malt with intense earthy, and lightly floral hop notes, and a mild, soft bitterness. (Not available in store. Currently only available at the brewery)
Southern Aspect IPA by Banded Peak Brewing: Much different than their flagship IPA. A rich, dense malt base serves as a silky vehicle for oodles of Mosaic and Summit hops that explode with mango, lemon, lime, orange peel, passionfruit and pineapple. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best IPAs in our province. ($10 for a 1L growler fill, $19 for 2L)
Sour Nelson by Wild Rose Brewing: A play on a past release (Heffe Nelson), this is a wheat ale done with New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops that typically exhibit generous white wine grape notes. They play with this theme by fermenting it with Laco. to give it a generous acidity, and then age it in fresh Sauvignon Blanc barrels (to further bring out wine-like characteristics. This is a truly unique (and very limited) beer by one of Alberta’s first brewers. ($17.29 for a 750mL bottle)
Open Road Brown ale by Troubled Monk: Another somewhat recent contender to the scene broke in with this truly impressive brown ale. This is a style that is all but looked over by so many hop-head and sour fans. It took me 2 good attempts to make sure I don’t overlook it myself! It has beautiful roasty character, with lovely toffee notes on a perfectly balanced body and a pleasant hop bitterness to finish it all off. Careful you don’t drink it all in one go! ($15.69 for a 6-pack of cans)
Flat Cap stout by Toolshed Brewing: This is a tasty, medium body (for a stout) stout with plenty of toasted bread and chocolate. A mild and soft bitterness backs everything up and cuts through the malt in a very pleasant way. It’s an incredibly easy drinking stout! ($15.69 for a 6-pack of cans)
Smoke Boss by The Dandy Brewing Company: A style that is very close to my heart! Rauchbiers bring me back to traveling through Bavaria, and boy does this one give those classics a run for their money! Generous smoked malts on a moderately dry base. It’s made spicy and aromatic with the addition of a Tonka bean/Bourbon infusion. Bryan and I both agree that they really knocked it out of the park with this one (and easily one of my personal favourites of the night). (Available soon, price TBD, stay tuned!)
Of course, like always, we had to pick some favourites. Though it was easy for me (Southern Aspect and Smoke Boss), the actual results were somewhat surprising. Tied for first place were the Sour Nelson, and the Open Road brown. Third place (thanks to my vote) was Smoke Boss! Now just because some of these others didn’t make it in the top 3 doesn’t mean a single one of these were bad beers, and they are all worth trying, as well as all other local offerings.
So that was our local throwdown! I have no fancy belt to give out (I should get one of those), and if I were to do it again, I’d love to have a larger scale with a lot more beers! But this gave us a pretty good idea of where our breweries sit in our growing beer culture, and I’m excited to revisit again in a while!
Feel free to follow me on twitter (@ShawnsBrewsCGY) for all the tasty new beers each week and tastings, open beers you should come try and the occasional bad joke!
Until next time,