Oh, Canada! You impress me so much with your thriving beer culture and skillful brewers. I remember 6 years ago when I first started at Kensington Wine Market, the main sources for real craft beer were the US and select overseas brewers. Sure, we had some amazing Quebec and east-coast beers too, but it was the import market that was truly thriving. Iâ€™m grateful to be here to see the rising tide for Canadian brewers. To see folks like Bellwoods, Four Winds, Blindman and so on, start up and gain a huge following so quickly out of the gates is really incredible.
Thankfully Albertaâ€™s market is open enough that we can support both Canadian and import beers, which is part of what makes us the best beer scene in Canada. But to stay on topic, this post isnâ€™t about imports, no, this is all about tasty brews from our home and native land. Itâ€™s time for an all-out brawl among some of the countryâ€™s best to see who may reign supreme. Of courseâ€¦ weâ€™re trying a bunch of different styles, so itâ€™s not a direct 1 to 1 comparison, but you get the idea! Check out what we tasted below!
Dageraad De Witte: BC’s Belgian beer authority (and brewery of the year at CBA) have crafted a real treat with this Flemish wit. The usual suspects are all here, malted and unmalted wheat, coriander and orange peel, but the addition of Lactobacillus gives this beer a refreshing, lovely tartness. ($10.09 for a 650mL bottle)
Burdock Three: Three is a can-conditioned sour saison. Light, crisp with plenty of citrus, light funk and some wine-like fruitiness. An incredibly solid beer to showcase Burdockâ€™s skill with yeast. ($6.19 for a 350mL can)
Blindman Super Session ale: or those who love the hazy and juicy trend, but wouldn’t mind having 3 beers before the end of the night (like me), Blindman has got you covered for this summer! The Super Session is like their NEIPA, but brought down to 3% ABV. All the silky (though lighter) body, and fruity hops you can handle! ($19.89 for a 4-pack of 20oz stovepipe cans)
Collective Arts Liquid Arts Fest IPA: For their Liquid Arts Fest this year, Collective Arts has put together this insanely fruity IPA. The so-called milkshake IPA has plenty of mango and passionfruit, along with the lactose and heavy hopping you’d expect. The flavour is VERY reminiscent of childhood citrus punches such as High C and Five Alive. ($6.19 for a 473mL tall can)
Dieu du Ciel Solstice Dâ€™ete: A highly acidic beer due to the lactic fermentation. Its aromas are acid, tart, with tons of rich raspberries. Though on the lighter side, its acidity is quickly felt on each side of the tongue before leaving all the room for the wonderful fruity taste. ($20.29 for a 4-pack of bottles)
Outcast Neon NIghtmare: A big, robust IIPA from Albertaâ€™s favourite gypsy brewer. Double dry hopped for ultimate hop intensity, dank fruits and hop oils floating on a sturdy, moderately sweet malty base. ($20.49 for a 4-pack of tall cans)
Railyard Nitro Stout: Silky and lightly sweet, with soft chocolate and on top of lightly toasted bread. Canned nitro leaves it very lightly carbonated and allows the oat-rich body to show itâ€™s silky quality and subtle sweetness. ($17.39 for a 4-pack of tall cans)
No beer tasting is complete without the tasty snacks, so the Peasant Cheese Company provided us with some cheese and meats, and with all of that, we were able to hash out some favourites. The favourite among nearly everyone was Railyard’s nitro stout, followed by Burdock Three, then tied for 3rd was Dageraad and Outcast. My guests have spoken! My favourites were a little differentâ€¦that Solstice Dâ€™ete is legendary and will forever be #1 in my heart. Make sure to try some of these beautiful beers, and others by these same brewers, because they are certainly some of the best this country has to offer. Cheers for now, stay tuned for more fun tastings through the summer!