Best Beer in Alberta: Winners of the 2020 Alberta Beer Awards

All the winners of the third annual Alberta Beer Awards, co-presented by the Alberta Small Brewers Association and Avenue Magazine.

Calgary’s Cabin Brewing Company claimed the title of Brewery of the Year with four medal-winning beers, including two golds and two silvers, and received the bronze Best of Show award for its Sunshine Rain IPA. Photograph by Roth and Ramberg Photography.

Here are the results of the third annual Alberta Beer Awards, co-presented by the Alberta Small Brewers Association and Avenue Magazine. The entries are judged by a panel of beer experts who blind-taste the hundreds of beer entries. With a wide variety of styles and breweries from across the province represented, you’ll be sure to find something you love.

 

Brewery of the Year

The brewery with the highest number of points. Points are awarded for medalling in categories only (not Best of Show) on the following basis: four points for a gold, two points for a silver, one point for a bronze finish.

Gold: Cabin Brewing Company (Calgary)
Silver: Campio Brewing Co. (Edmonton)
Canmore Brewing Company (Canmore)
Bronze: The Establishment Brewing Company, (Calgary)

 

New Brewery of the Year

Awarded to a brewer that opened in 2019 and received the most Brewery of the Year awards. Points are awarded on the following basis: four points for a gold, two points for a silver, one point for a bronze finish. (Best of Show and Soda categories are not included).

Gold: Odd Company Brewing (Edmonton)
Silver: Spectrum Ale Works (Lethbridge)
Bronze: Long Hop Brewing Co (Calgary)
Sheepdog Brewing (Canmore)
Red Hart Brewing (Red Deer)

 

Best of Show

The gold-winning beers from the other categories (excluding root beer/ginger ale) were judged against each other to determine a gold, silver and bronze rankings for the best beer in Alberta.

Gold: Alley Kat Brewing Company, Olde Deuteronomy Barley Wine 2018 (Edmonton)
Silver: Blindman Brewing, 24-2 Brett Stock Ale (Lacombe)
Bronze: Cabin Brewing Company, Sunshine Rain (Calgary)

 

Trendy Beer of the Year: Hoppy Kveik Ale

A dry, hop-accented ale fermented using a Kveik yeast strain. Flavours should be fruity with a light malt graininess.

Gold: Collaboration between Undercurrent Brewing (Sylvan Lake), Red Hart Brewing (Red Deer), Red Shed Malting (Penhold), Belly Hop Brewing (Red Deer) and Craft Beer Nation (Red Deer) Ryes Beyond Kveik IPA
Silver: Sea Change Brewing Co., Hype Juice (Edmonton/Beaumont)
Bronze: Annex Ale Project, Null Test Kveik Pale Ale (Calgary)

 

Patio Beer

Lagers or ales that are light-bodied, refreshing and not overly hopped. Colour may vary but the overall emphasis should be on balance and accessibility with no aggressive flavours. With 34 entries this year, this was the most popular category among Alberta brewers.

Gold: Tool Shed Brewing Company, People Skills Cream Ale (Calgary)
Silver: Sea Change Brewing Co., Death Wave Mexican Lager (Edmonton/Beaumont) 
Bronze: Analog Brewing, Dry As Bones Dry Hopped Brut Ale (Edmonton)

 

Hoppy Sessionable Beer

Hop-forward, but accessible beer with a noted but not overly aggressive hop flavour and bitterness, and a focus on balance overall. Alcohol strength under 5.5 per cent.

Gold: Sea Change Brewing Co., The Wolf (Edmonton/Beaumont)
Silver: Cabin Brewing Company, Retrospectrum (Calgary) 
Bronze: SYC Brewing Co., Salud! (Edmonton)

 

German/Czech Style Pilsner

Light-coloured lager with noted hop flavour and aroma. Designed to reflect the characteristics of German- and Czech-style Pilsner. When someone tells you to “take a pill,” this is what you drink.

Gold: Snake Lake Brewing Company, Kinabik Pilsner (Sylvan Lake)
Silver: Trolley 5, Turntable Lager (Calgary) 
Bronze: Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery, Pilsner (Calgary)

 

Cabin Brewing Company was just one of many Calgary breweries to claim gold this year. Other local gold-medal winners are Born Colorado, Brewsters, The Establishment, Ol’ Beautiful, OT Brewing Company, Tool Shed and Village Brewery. Illustration by Glenn Harvey.

 

American-Style Wheat Beer

Ale or lager brewed featuring wheat as a key ingredient and wheat as a dominant flavour and characteristic of the beer, but lacking the yeast characteristics of German- or Belgian-style wheat beer.

Gold: The Establishment Brewing Company, My Best Friend’s Girl (Calgary)
Silver: Trolley 5, Upbeat Wheat (Calgary) 
Bronze: Prairie Dog Brewing, Super-B (Calgary)

 

German and Belgian-style Wheat Beer

Ale brewed with wheat as a key ingredient, and using traditional German or Belgian yeast. Wheat is a dominant flavour characteristic, balanced with a noted yeast character appropriate to regional sub-style.

Gold: Brauerei Fahr, Fahr Away Hefeweizen (Turner Valley)
Silver: Hell’s Basement Brewery, He Ain’t Hefe He’s My Brother (Medicine Hat) 
Bronze: Bent Stick Brewing, B.S. Wit (Edmonton)

 

Belgian Ale

Ale designed to reflect Belgian ale characteristics, including spicy yeast flavours and aromas with a moderate alcohol content.

Gold: Campio Brewing Co., Nondenominational Abbey Ale (Edmonton)
Silver: Sawback Brewing Co., Saison Series No. 1 – Belgian Style (Red Deer)
Bronze: Inner City Brewing, A Day In Bruges (Calgary)

 

Strong Belgian Ale

Ale designed to reflect Belgian ale characteristics, including spicy yeast flavours and aromas and with a higher alcohol content (above seven per cent).

Gold: Brewsters Brewing Company, Oh My Quad! (Calgary/Edmonton)
Silver: Olds College Brewery, Cill Dara (Olds)
Bronze: Olds College Brewery, Cold Winter’s Night (Olds)

 

Amber and Dark Lager

Medium and darker-coloured lagers. Should have more malt character than light lagers, although malt-hop balance can vary.

Gold: Ol’ Beautiful Brewing Co., Eternal Twilight (Calgary)
Silver: Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery, Black Lager (Calgary)
Bronze: Inner City Brewing, Eis On The Bridge (Calgary)

 

Brown Ale

Brown-coloured, malt-accented ale or lager. Darker malt flavours should be emphasized and hop character can range from none to moderate.

Gold: Village Brewery, Village Blacksmith (Calgary)
Silver: Canmore Brewing Company, Georgetown Brown (Canmore) 
Bronze: Travois Ale Works, Scottish Export (Medicine Hat)

 

Porter

Deep brown, malt-accented ales that are reflective of the traditional porter style.

Gold: 4th Meridian Brewing Company, Border Porter (Lloydminster)
Silver: Canmore Brewing Company, Chocolate Maple Porter (Canmore)
Bronze: Blindman Brewing, Triphammer Robust Porter (Lacombe)

 

Stout

Very dark ale designed to reflect the characteristics of a stout.

Gold: Born Colorado Brewing, Arm Candy Milk Stout (Calgary)
Silver: Siding 14 Brewing Company, Coal Pusher Stout (Ponoka)
Bronze: Medicine Hat Brewing Co., Gentlemen’s Stout (Medicine Hat)

 

Illustration by Glenn Harvey.

 

Amber Ale

Amber-coloured, malt-accented ale. Malt should have darker flavours without being overdone, including caramel, toast, bread and biscuit. Hops can vary in profile and perception, but without becoming too dominant in the balance.

Gold: Tool Shed Brewing Company, Red Rage (Calgary)
Silver: Red Hart Brewing, Irish Red (Red Deer)
Bronze: Hard Knox Brewery, Grunt Work (Black Diamond)

 

All Alberta Malt Beer

A beer of any style brewed exclusively with grains grown and malted in Alberta.

Gold: Blindman Brewing, 24-2 Brett Stock Ale (Lacombe)
Silver: Campio Brewing Co., All Malt Lager (Edmonton) 
Bronze: The Growlery Beer Co., Wheels Up French Saison (Edmonton)

 

Imperial Strength Beer

Ale or lager brewed to higher alcohol levels, usually above eight per cent. Body, colour and malt/hop balance vary.

Gold: Alley Kat Brewing Company, Olde Deuteronomy Barley Wine 2018 (Edmonton)
Silver: Medicine Hat Brewing Co., Russian Imperial Stout (Medicine Hat)
Bronze: OT Brewing Company, Ape Index Barrel Aged Barley Wine (Calgary)

 

Fruit Beer

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

Gold: Undercurrent Brewing, Finn’s Raspberry Porter (Sylvan Lake)
Silver: Analog Brewing, In Another Castle Peach Mango Milkshake IPA (Edmonton)
Bronze: Marda Loop Brewing, Blackberry Porter (Calgary)

 

Spiced Beer

Any lager or ale where the addition of spice or other adjunct (coffee, for example) is a key ingredient and important flavour and aroma component. With 27 entries from Alberta breweries, this was the second-most competitive category this year.

Gold: Odd Company Brewing, Mulled Lambrusco Sour (Edmonton)
Silver: Snake Lake Brewing Company, Ice Cutter Vanilla Latte Stout (Sylvan Lake)
Bronze: Analog Brewing, Porter Fandango (Edmonton)

 

Other Flavoured Beer

Ale or lager brewed with addition of alternative ingredients that do not fit into other categories. Includes beer made with alternative grains (gluten-free, for example) or alternative sugars (honey, for example), and smoked beer, as well as beer cocktails.

Gold: Travois Ale Works, Black Forest Porter (Medicine Hat)
Silver: Inner City Brewing, OFA (Calgary) 
Bronze: Bow River Brewing, Prairie Night Porter (Calgary)

 

Kettle Sour Beer

Any ale or lager where sourness is a feature of the flavour and aroma produced through the process of kettle souring. Can include fruit and other ingredient additions.

Gold: Campio Brewing Co., Albertasourous (Edmonton)
Silver: Ribstone Creek Brewery, Raspberry Berliner Weisse (Edgerton)
Bronze: Medicine Hat Brewing Co., Bussmann Cranberry Sour (Medicine Hat)

 

Illustration by Glenn Harvey.

 

Barrel-Aged Beer

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

Gold: OT Brewing Company, Barrel Aged Hack Weight Imperial Stout (Calgary)
Silver: Cabin Brewing Company, Chapter 1: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy (Calgary)
Bronze: Village Brewery, Village Framboise (Calgary)

 

Wild/Natural Fermentation Beer

Beer produced through the use of “wild” yeast and bacteria, including brettanomyces, or through spontaneous fermentation. Should exhibit the flavour profiles of the organisms used, including earthiness, spiciness, sourness, mustiness and cellar characteristics.

Gold: Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company, Substantially Complete (Edmonton)
Silver: Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery, Foeder Aged Golden Sour (Calgary)
Bronze: Grain Bin Brewing Company, Burgundy Barrel Aged Braggot (Grande Prairie)

 

Wild/Natural Fermentation Beer with Fruit

Beer produced through the use of “wild” yeast and bacteria, including brettanomyces, and/or through spontaneous fermentation that includes fruit as a key ingredient.

Gold: Grain Bin Brewing Company, Welcome (Grande Prairie)
Silver: Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company, Fruitful Pursuits: Plum (Edmonton)
Bronze: Troubled Monk, Mary Samsonite (Red Deer)

 

Pale Ale/Bitter

Medium-bodied pale- to amber-coloured ale, with noted hop character and a balance of malt. Beer designed to reflect the characteristics of American pale ale or English bitter are appropriate.

Gold: Spectrum Ale Works, English Pub Ale (Lethbridge)
Silver: Canmore Brewing Company, Ten Peaks Pale Ale (Canmore)
Bronze: The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company, Three Sisters Pale Ale (Canmore)

 

IPA

Light-to-amber-coloured hop-forward ale with a moderate-to-assertive bitterness, hop flavour and aroma, depending on sub-style. English or American versions of IPA are both appropriate.

Gold: Cabin Brewing Company, Sunshine Rain (Calgary)
Silver: Origin Malting & Brewing Co., Pioneer IPA (Strathmore)
Bronze: Endeavour Brewing Company, Sudden Draft IPA (St. Albert)

 

Specialty IPA

An IPA designed with features that deviate from traditional IPA, including colour, ingredients or yeast. Central feature of the beer is bitterness and hop flavour and aroma, with varying balance appropriate to variation.

Gold: Canmore Brewing Company, Railway Avenue Rye IPA (Canmore)
Silver: Sheepdog Brewing, La Noire Cascadian Dark Ale (Canmore)
Bronze: Odd Company Brewing, Brett IPA II (Edmonton)

 

Double/Imperial IPA

A higher-alcohol IPA. Exhibits moderate-to-high bitterness and hop characteristics. A warming, but not hot, alcohol is appropriate. Alcohol should be above seven per cent.

Gold: Cabin Brewing Company, Super Duper Saturation (Calgary)
Silver: Citizen Brewing Company, Royal Pine WCIPA (Calgary)
Bronze: The Establishment Brewing Company, Ghost Machine (Calgary)

 

New England-Style Ale

Hazy, light-coloured, medium-bodied hop-accented ale. Moderate-to-strong citrus-fruit flavours and aromas with low-to-moderate bitterness. Mouth feel will be full with a silky character. Designed to reflect the characteristics of the ales originating in Vermont.

Gold: The Establishment Brewing Company, Sky Rocket V (Calgary)
Silver: Long Hop Brewing Co, Long Hop Hazy Pale Ale (Calgary)
Bronze: Snake Lake Brewing Company, Sidewinder IPA (Sylvan Lake)

 

Root Beer/Ginger Ale

Non-alcoholic soda beverages made with traditional root beer/ginger ale ingredients and process.

Gold: The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company, Root Beer (Canmore)
Silver: Hell’s Basement Brewery, Heck of a Root Beer (Medicine Hat)
Bronze: Troubled Monk, Ginger Ale (Red Deer)

Correction: This article has been updated to include Red Hart Brewing as a bronze winner in the New Brewery of the Year category. 

Get a weekly serving of suggestions for how to experience Calgary's restaurants, bars and markets by signing up for Avenue’s Food & Drink Newsletter.

Related posts

A Behind the Scenes Look at Red Shed Malting

Alana Willerton

7 New Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Calgary

Travis Klemp

Quiz: Where Should You Order Takeout From in Calgary?

Alyssa Quirico

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Privacy Policy

Privacy & Cookies Policy