Best Beer in Alberta

The 66 best brews of 2018 in categories including patio beers, IPA, stout and sessionable beers. Plus, the Alberta Brewery of the Year.




 

The beer industry in Alberta is growing fast. In the past two years, 44 new breweries were licensed and that number is growing by the week. All of those breweries have multiple brews to try. Choosing the best is, of course, subjective and you should try as many as you can, talk to the makers, hang out in the tasting rooms and find your own favourites.

This list is a good place to start. It is the results of the first annual Alberta Beer Awards created by the Alberta Small Brewers Association

Industry members, as well as judges who have been through the Beer Judge Certification Program, spent four days blind tasting more than 300 beers submitted from around the province. The beer was judged by category and arranged in flights for the judges. Beers were scored on flavour, aroma and overall impression. The top three beers from each flight went on to another panel of best of show judges who placed them as first, second and third in the categories. All of the first place finishers in each category then went on to be judged in the best of show category. 

All of that tasting and judging resulted in this list of 66 beers to try from more than 30 small Alberta brewers. Some of the beers were seasonal or limited edition, but most are available to drink right now at tasting rooms, pubs and in bottles or cans from liquor stores. Check each brewer's website to see the latest on where their beers are available.

 

Best of Show 

The winning beers from the 22 categories were judged against each other to determine the best beer in Alberta.

  1. Last Post Brown Ale from Origin Malting & Brewing Ltd. (Strathmore)
  2. New England Pale Ale from Blindman Brewing
 (Lacombe)
  3. Oak Aged Flemish Red from Big Rock Brewery
 (Calgary)

 

Patio Beers

Flavour notes: Lagers or ales that are light-bodied, refreshing and not overly hopped. Colour may vary but the overall emphasis is on balance and accessibility with no aggressive flavours. 



  1. 
Crisp Pils from Jasper Brewing Company

 (Jasper)
  2. 10 Peaks Pale Ale from Canmore Brewing Company (Canmore)
  3. Scona Gold from Alley Kat Brewing Company
 (Edmonton)

 

Canadian Cereal Ale 

Flavour notes: This beer was designed as part of Craft Beer Market's Ultimate Canadian Beer Style Project. It had to contain four Canadian-grown grains: wheat, rye, oats and barley, with the option of using triticale. These beers are between 5 and 6.5 percent alcohol.



  1. Papa Bear Prairie Ale from Half Hitch Brewing Company (Cochrane)
  2. Canadian Cereal Ale Vol 1.0 from Cold Garden Beverage Company (Calgary)
  3. Parti-Gyle Best Bitter from Blindman Brewing (Lacombe)

 

German/Czech Style Pilsner

Flavour notes: These are light-coloured lagers with hop flavour and aroma. Designed to reflect the characteristics of German and Czech style pilsner with grassy, vegetal or spicy hop character.  

  1. 
License to Pil from Wild Rose Brewery (Calgary)
  2. Cryostasis from Zero Issue Brewing
 (Calgary)
  3. House of Pilsner from Coulee Brew Co. (Lethbridge)

 

New England-Style Ale (Trendy Beer of the Year)

Flavour notes: Light-colour and very hazy with a light body, strong fruit flavours and aromas of citrus fruit. Bitterness perception is moderate with an accent on the hop flavour and aroma. 



  1. New England Pale Ale from Blindman Brewing



 (Lacombe)
  2. Getting’ All Hopped Up from Origin Malting & Brewing Ltd. (Strathmore)
  3. Wickid Smaht from Troubled Monk Brewery (Red Deer)

 






Farmhouse Ale

Flavour notes: Dry with noted yeast characteristics or spiciness. Saison and Biere de Garde were included in this category.




  1. 
Mango Saison from 4th Meridian Brewing Company (Lloydminster)
  2. Homesteader from Troubled Monk Brewery (Red Deer)
  3. One Summer in Saskatoon from Cold Garden Beverage Company
 (Calgary)

 

Amber Beer

Flavour notes: Amber-coloured, malt-accented ale or lager.

  1. OKT from Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company


 (Edmonton)
  2. Pond Surfer California Common from Town Square Brewing
 (Edmonton)
  3. Rutting Elk Red from The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company (Canmore)

 




Wheat Beer 

Flavour notes: Ale or lager brewed featuring wheat as an ingredient or with wheat-style flavour and characteristics. 

  1. ZUS from Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company (Edmonton)
  2. Passion d’Ale from Two Sergeants Brewing Inc. (Fort Saskatchewan)
  3. White Wolf Witbier from Minhas Micro Brewery (Calgary)

 





IPA  

Flavour notes: Ales with a moderate to assertive bitterness, hop flavour and aroma. 




  1. This Must Be the IPA from Cold Garden Beverage Company (Calgary)
  2. High 5 IPA from Trolley 5 (Calgary)
  3. Railway Ave Rye IPA from Canmore Brewing Company
 (Canmore)

 





Imperial IPA

Flavour notes: Hop-forward ale with assertive hop flavor and aroma, moderate to high bitterness and brewed to a higher alcohol strength. 

  1. Argyll Dragon from Alley Kat Brewing Company (Edmonton)
  2. Double Sow Pow from Troubled Monk Brewery (Red Deer)
  3. Howling Fantolds from Annex Ale Project
 (Calgary)

 

Belgian Ales 

Flavour notes: Ale designed to reflect Belgian ale characteristics, including spicy yeast flavours and aromas.

  1. Belgian Dip from Tool Shed Brewing Company (Calgary)
  2. Corbus Belgian Dark Strong from Troubled Monk Brewery (Red Deer)
  3. Tripel Cross from Situation Brewing (Edmonton)

 

Brown Beer

Flavour notes: Brown-coloured, malt-accented ale or lager. 

  1. Last Post Brown from Origin Malting & Brewing Ltd. (Strathmore)
  2. Barracks Brown from Wild Rose Brewery (Calgary)
  3. Open Road Brown from Troubled Monk Brewery (Red Deer)

 

Pale Ale/Bitter

Flavour notes: Medium bodied pale to amber coloured ale with noted hop character and a balance of malt. 

  1. Forward Progress from Annex Ale Project (Calgary)
  2. Full Moon from Alley Kat Brewing Company
 (Edmonton)
  3. Multiverse from Zero Issue Brewing (Calgary)

 

Stout 

Flavour notes: Very dark ale designed to reflect the characteristics of a stout. This category included all styles of stout including dry and sweet stout, but excluded imperial stouts (those are in the Extra Strong Beer Category). 



  1. Tamarack from Grain Bin Brewing Company (Grande Prairie)
  2. Velveteen Nitro Stout from Cold Garden Beverage Company (Calgary)
  3. Flat Cap Stout from Tool Shed Brewing Company (Calgary)

 

Extra Strong Beer 

Flavour notes: Ale or lager brewed to alcohol levels above 8 percent.

  1. KGB Russian Imperial Stout from Elbeck Brews

 (Edmonton)
  2. Blue Monk Barleywine from Brewsters Brewing Company
 (Calgary)
  3. Winter Warmer from Medicine Hat Brewing Co. (Medicine Hat)

 

Barrel-Aged Beer 

Flavour notes: Any beer that was aged in wood barrels and exhibits flavour and aroma characteristics of the barrel. 

  1. Tequila Barrel Aged Barley Wine from The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company (Canmore)
  2. Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout from Blindman Brewing (Lacombe)
  3. 11:59 PM from Bent Stick Brewing (Edmonton)

 








Fruit Beer 

Flavour notes: Any lager or ale where the addition of fruit or vegetable is a key ingredient and important flavour and aroma component. 



  1. Main Squeeze from Alley Kat Brewing Company (Edmonton)
  2. Belly Flop Apricot Grisette from Big Rock Brewery (Calgary)
  3. Aprikat from Alley Kat Brewing Company
 (Edmonton)

 


Spiced Beer 

Flavour notes: Any lager or ale where the addition of spice or other adjunct (like coffee) is a key ingredient and important flavour and aroma component. 



  1. Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Coconut from Troubled Monk Brewery (Red Deer)
  2. The Darkness Chocolate Porter from Origin Malting & Brewing Ltd. (Strathmore)
  3. Moreau Cinnamon Coconut Tropical Stout from Bench Creek Brewing (Yellowhead County)

 



Sour Beer

Flavour notes: Any ale or lager where sourness is a feature of the flavour and aroma.

  1. Oak Aged Flemish Red Ale from Big Rock Brewery (Calgary)
  2. Barrel Aged Dark Saison from Blindman Brewing
 (Lacombe)
  3. Beets By Sinden from Town Square Brewing
 (Edmonton)

 

Other Flavoured Beer 

Flavour notes: Ale or lager brewed with the addition of alternative ingredients that do not fit into other categories. Includes beer fermented with alternative yeast/bacteria, beer made with alternative grains or alternative sugars as well as smoked beer.

  1. Batch #500 from Last Best Brewing and Distilling (Calgary)
  2. Javalanche from Banded Peak Brewing
 (Calgary)
  3. Street Beat Pollen Wheat from Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company (Edmonton)

 

Other Strong Hoppy Beer 

Flavour notes: Hop-forward ale with moderate to assertive bitterness, hop flavour and aroma.

  1. ACME Red from Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company (Edmonton)
  2. Venom from Zero Issue Brewing (Calgary)
  3. Cascadian Dark Ale from Blindman Brewing (Lacombe)

 


Amber/Dark Hoppy Sessionable Beer

Flavour notes: Hop-forward, but accessible beer. These beers are darker in colour with a noted but not overly aggressive hop flavour and bitterness and a focus on balance overall. The alcohol strength is under 5.5 percent. 



  1. East Lake Amber from Fitzsimmons Brewing Co. (Airdrie)
  2. Red Rage from Tool Shed Brewing Company (Calgary)
  3. Alberta from Olds College Brewery
 (Olds)

 



Light Hoppy Sessionable Beer

Flavour notes: A hop-forward and accessible beer that is light-bodied with a noted but not overly aggressive hop flavour and bitterness. Alcohol strength is less than 5.5 percent. 



  1. Plainsbreaker from Banded Peak Brewing

 (Calgary)
  2. Blindman River Session Ale from Blindman Brewing
 (Lacombe)
  3. 9 Mile Session Pale Ale from Dog Island Brewing
 (Slave Lake)

 

Brewery of the Year 

Points are awarded for ranking in categories only (not best of show). Five points were given for each first place finish, two points for each second place and one point for third place. 

1. Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company (Edmonton)
2. Alley Kat Brewery (Edmonton)
3. Blindman Brewing (Lacombe) 
3. Troubled Monk Brewery (Red Deer)

​​


In addition to the winning beers, the Alberta Beer Awards also recognized some of the growing craft brewing industry’s top supporters. The following categories were determined by votes from members of the Alberta Small Brewer Association.

 

Community Builder, Industry Partner

Category note: The person working for an industry partner (suppliers, distributors, retailers etc) who contributed most to the development of the industry in 2017 and who is collaborative, generous and enthusiastic.

Bob Sutton from Rahr Malting and Stephen Bezan from Sherbrooke Liquor

 

Community Builder, Brewery

Category note: The person working for an Alberta brewery who contributed most to the development of the industry in 2017 and who is collaborative, generous and enthusiastic.

Jim Button from Village Brewery

 

Retailer of the Year

Category note: The liquor store that was the most supportive and enthusiastic about Alberta breweries in 2017.

Sherbrooke Liquor, Edmonton

 

Pub of the Year

Category note: The pub, restaurant or bar that was the most supportive and enthusiastic about Alberta breweries in 2017.

Cilantro and Chive, 5021 50 St., Lacombe, 403-782-2882


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