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Calgary, CA
March 24, 2019

Best Beer in Alberta

All the winners of the second annual Alberta Beer Awards presented by the Alberta Small Brewers Association and Avenue magazine.

Alberta’s breweries are not just increasing in quantity. They are increasing in quality, too. In 2013, the provincial government changed regulations that included minimum production quotas for breweries. Along with some other regulatory changes for brewpubs and taprooms, this has led to a profusion of new nano- and micro-breweries opening over the past six years. There are currently more than 120 breweries in Alberta.

This year, 76 breweries from across the province entered the second 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 almost 30 categories from to choose from, you’re sure to be able to find a winning beer that you’ll love.

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Brewery of the Year

The brewery with the highest number of points from winning other awards is awarded Brewery of the Year. Points are awarded for medaling in categories only (not Best of Show or Soda) on the following basis: 4 points for a gold, 2 points for a silver, 1 point for a bronze finish.

Gold: Alley Kat Brewing Company (Edmonton)

Silver: Coulee Brew Co. (Lethbridge)

Bronze: Town Square Brewing Co. (Edmonton)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

New Brewery of the Year

The new brewery with the highest number of points is awarded New Brewery of the Year. Points are awarded for medaling in categories only (not Best of Show and not Soda) on the following basis: 4 points for a gold, 2 points for a silver, 1 point for a bronze finish.

Three new breweries tied in their finish for this award and all received Gold place medals for New Brewery of the Year, 2018.

Gold: Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery (Calgary)

Gold: Sawback Brewing Co. (Red Deer)

Gold: Snake Lake Brewing Company (Sylvan Lake)

Photograph by Jared Sych.

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/bronze for the best beer in Alberta.

Gold: Grain Bin II, Grain Bin Brewing Company (Grand Prairie)

Silver: Forward Progress, Annex Ale Project (Calgary)

Bronze: Main Squeeze, Alley Kat Brewing Company (Edmonton)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

IPA

With 44 entries, this was the largest most competitive category at the Alberta Beer Awards. 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: High Harvest, Wild Rose Brewery (Calgary)

Silver: Norglenwold West Coast IPA, Snake Lake Brewing Company (Sylvan Lake)

Bronze: Sunshine Rain, Cabin Brewing Company (Calgary)

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Best Patio Beers

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 31 entries this year, this was the second most popular category among Alberta brewers.

Gold: Hazy Blonde Ale, Sawback Brewing Co. (Red Deer)

Silver: Pilsner, Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery (Calgary)

Bronze: Fabhelles, Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company (Edmonton)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Hoppy Sessionable Beer

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. Alcohol strength under 5.5 per cent.

Gold: The Wolf, Sea Change Brewing Co. (Edmonton)

Silver: Plainsbreaker Dry Hopped Wheat Ale, Banded Peak Brewing (Calgary)

Bronze: Party Pants Pale Ale, Red Bison Brewery (Calgary)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

German/Czech Style Pilsner

Light-coloured lager with noted hop flavour and aroma. Designed to reflect the characteristics of German and Czech style pilsner, so European, grassy, vegetal or spicy hop character. When someone tells you to take a pill, this is what you drink.

Gold: Pilsner, Big Rock Brewery (Calgary)

Silver: Captain’s Log German Style Pilsner, Caravel Craft Brewery (Calgary)

Bronze: German Pils, Travois Ale Works (Medicine Hat)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Farmhouse Ale

Highly attenuated ale (that means it’s dry), with noted yeast characteristics or spiciness. Colour, body and alcoholic strength may vary. Designed in the tradition of European farmhouse ale. Saison and Biere de Garde were included in this category.

Gold: Chinook Saison, Banded Peak Brewing (Calgary)

Silver: Anniversary Saison, Fitzsimmons Brewing Co. (Airdrie)

Bronze: Lacy Saisy Saison, Freehold Brewing Co. (Calgary, no current brewery location)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Belgian Ales

Ale designed to reflect Belgian Ale characteristics, including spicy yeast flavours and aromas. Colour and alcohol may vary. This category includes Abbey ale, Belgian Blonde and Belgian Pale Ale are all appropriate in this category.

Gold: Wolf in Monk’s Clothing, Norsemen Brewing Co (Camrose)

Silver: Anniversary #3: Belgian Tripel, Blindman Brewing (Lacombe)

Bronze: St Joes Abbey Style Brown Ale, Oldman River Brewing (Lundbreck)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Amber and Dark Lager

Medium and darker-coloured lagers. Malt-hop balance can vary but flavour should be clean and moderate in all aspects.

Gold: Pond Surfer California Common, Town Square Brewing Co. (Edmonton)

Silver: Black Lager, Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery (Calgary)

Bronze: Munich Style Dunkel, Caravel Craft Brewery (Calgary)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Brown Ale

Brown-coloured, malt-accented ale or lager. Darker malt flavours should be emphasized and hop character can range from none to moderate. This category included beers with a range of alcohol strength, excluding imperial-strength.

Gold: Village Blacksmith, Village Brewery (Calgary)

Silver: Abbey Lane, Ribstone Creek Brewery (Edgerton)

Bronze: Bears Hump Nut Brown Ale, Coulee Brew Co. (Lethbridge)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Porter

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

Gold: Fat Sherpa, The Establishment Brewing Company (Calgary)

Silver: Coalbanks Porter, Coulee Brew Co. (Lethbridge)

Bronze: Old Man Winter, Ribstone Creek Brewery (Edgerton)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Stout

Very dark ale designed to reflect the characteristics of a stout. This category included all styles of stout including dry and sweet stout, but excludes imperial stouts which were included in the Extra Strong Beer Category.

Gold: Ghost Train, Hell’s Basement Brewery (Medicine Hat)

Silver: Coal Pusher Stout, Siding 14 Brewing Company (Ponoka)

Bronze: Alta Mira Oatmeal Stout, Red Bison Brewery (Calgary)

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Amber Ale

Amber-coloured, malt accented ale. Malt flavours should be emphasized while hop character can be low to medium but in balance with the malt. Can have a range of alcohol strength, excluding imperial-strength.

Gold: Red Rage, Tool Shed Brewing Company (Calgary)

Silver: Forged Rye Amber, Town Square Brewing Co. (Edmonton)

Bronze: East Lake Amber, Fitzsimmons Brewing Co. (Airdrie)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Wheat Beer

Ale or lager brewed featuring wheat as an ingredient and/or wheat-style flavour and characteristics. Can be designed to reflect the characteristics of American, German or Belgian wheat beer. Can be any colour.

Gold: Hefeweizen, Good Mood Brewery (Calgary)

Silver: He Ain’t Hefe He’s My Brother, Hell’s Basement Brewery (Medicine Hat)

Bronze: Bucktooth Belgian White, Troubled Monk (Red Deer)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

All Alberta Malt Beer

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

Gold: All Malt Lager, Campio Brewing Company (Edmonton, no current brewery location)

Silver: Prairie Pounder, Alley Kat Brewing Company, (Edmonton)

Bronze: 24-2 Stock Ale, Blindman Brewing (Lacombe)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Extra Strong Beer

Ale or lager brewed to higher alcohol levels above 8 per cent. Body, colour and malt/hop balance vary. This category includes but is not restricted to “imperialized” versions of other styles.

Gold: Olde Deuteronomy, Alley Kat Brewing Company (Edmonton)

Silver: Russian Imperial Stout, Medicine Hat Brewing Company (Medicine Hat)

Bronze: Ego Death, Annex Ale Project (Calgary)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Fruit Beer

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

Gold: Main Squeeze, Alley Kat Brewing Company (Edmonton)

Silver: 52nd Street Peach Ale, Brewsters Brewing Company (Calgary)

Bronze: “Short Shorts” Cherry Kolsch, Origin Malting & Brewing Co. (Strathmore)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Spiced Beer

Any lager or ale where the addition of spice or other adjunct (e.g., coffee) is a key ingredient and important flavour and aroma component.

Gold: Power Up Porter, Analog Brewing Company (Edmonton)

Silver: Milk River Vanilla Milk Stout, Coulee Brew Co. (Lethbridge)

Bronze: Burnin Fuse, Hard Knox Brewery (Black Diamond)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Other Flavoured Beer

Ale or lager brewed with addition of alternative ingredients that do not fit into other categories. Includes beer fermented with alternative yeast/bacteria, beer made with alternative grains (e.g., gluten-free) and/or alternative sugars (e.g., honey), and smoked beer.

Gold: Last Resort Negroni-Inspired Ale, collaboration between Ol’ Beautiful Brewing Co. and Cold Garden Beverage Company (Calgary)

Silver: Honey Brown, Big Rock Brewery (Calgary)

Bronze: Prairie Fire Rauchbier, Town Square Brewing Co. (Edmonton)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Sour Beer

Any ale or lager in which sourness is a feature of the flavour and aroma. Can include fruit and other ingredient additions. Includes, but is not restricted to Kettle Sour, Gose, Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red, Oud Bruin.

Gold: Grain Bin II, Grain Bin Brewing Company (Grande Prairie)

Silver: Sour Cherry Stout, Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery (Calgary)

Bronze: Beets By Sinden Sour, Town Square Brewing Co. (Edmonton)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Barrel-Aged Beer

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

Gold: Barrel Aged Coulee Quad, Coulee Brew Co. (Lethbridge)

Silver: Russian Imperial Stout, Brewsters Brewing Company (Calgary)

Bronze: Village Barrel Aged Friend, Village Brewery (Calgary)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

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: Forward Progress, Annex Ale Project (Calgary)

Silver: Make That A Double!, Outcast Brewing (Calgary, no current location)

Bronze: Flagstick Hazy Pale Ale, The OT Brewing Company (Calgary)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Other Strong Hoppy Beer

Hop-forward ale with moderate to assertive bitterness, hop flavour and aroma, including Red IPA, Black IPA, Belgian IPA, Rye IPA.

Gold: Sidewinder IPA, Snake Lake Brewing Company (Sylvan Lake)

Silver: India Dark Ale, Sawback Brewing Co. (Red Deer)

Bronze: Force Majeure, Annex Ale Project (Calgary)

 

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Trendy Beer of the Year (2019): Brut IPA.

A very dry, effervescent IPA. Light in colour with a slight haze. Entries should have a refreshing, champagne-like character and a dry finish.

Gold: Chateau d’Outcast Brut IPA, Outcast Brewing (Calgary, no current location)

Silver: Brut IPA, Troubled Monk (Red Deer)

Bronze: Champagne Garden Brut IPA, Cold Garden Beverage Company (Calgary)

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Root Beer/Ginger Ale

Non-alcoholic soda beverages made with traditional root beer/ginger ale ingredients and process. This category was judged by a panel of children and there were no points given to the brewery for the Brewery of the Year category for a win in this category.

Gold: Ginger Beer, Annex Ale Project (Calgary)

Silver: Root Beer, Annex Ale Project (Calgary)

Bronze: Grizzly Paw Root Beer, The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company (Canmore)

 

Industry-Voted Awards

Members of the Alberta Small Brewers Association voted on the following categories to determine winners of these awards for craft brewing supporters across the province.

Retailer of the Year

Sherbrooke Liquor, Edmonton

 

Restaurant/Pub of the Year

Cilantro and Chive, Lacombe

 

Community Builder of the Year (Partners)

Red Shed Malting

The industry partner that contributed most to the development of the industry in 2018. The company exhibits the following characteristics: collaborative, generous, enthusiastic.

Community Builder of the Year (Breweries)

Blindman Brewing (Lacombe)

The brewery that contributed most to the development of the industry in 2018. The company exhibits the following characteristics: Collaborative, Generous, Enthusiastic.

 

Correction: This story has been edited from its original version to note that the Last Resort Negroni-Inspired Ale, which won Gold for Other Flavoured Beer, was a collaboration between Ol’ Beautiful Brewing Co. and Cold Garden Beverage Company.

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