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  • 15 Years of Wild Rose Beers

    Long-time readers may recall me writing about a young upstart of a local craft brewery way back in 2004, and extolling their virtues in print many times since then.

    September 20 marked 15 glorious years of fine local beer, and your intrepid liquor reporter was onsite at the tap room attached to the brewery for the occasion.

    While sitting in the tap room during their anniversary party, your humble narrator traded stories with old friends and fellow beer nerds.

    The gentleman on the barstool next to me was waxing poetic of the old days when Wild Rose was still using The Pint-Sized Beer Company as a byline in their advertising copy.

    With a current production capacity of 100,000 bottles per week, that pint-sized name might not be as accurate as it once was.

    The Wild Rose Brewery started operations way back in 1996, using second-hand brewing equipment in a warehouse in the Foothills Industrial Park.

    Their brews were only available on tap at local drinking establishments for the first several years, but finally became available at retail liquor outlets in 2002.

    Unfortunately, they started out with one-litre flip-top bottles, which didn’t really catch on with the beer drinking public. It didn’t take long for Wild Rose to switch to the standard 355mL bottle, which they continue to use to this day.

    Your intrepid liquor reporter remembers squealing with delight when the Wild Rose Brewery moved out of their cramped industrial warehouse into a large quonset hut beside the now-closed Farmer’s Market in the old Currie Barracks.

    The joy continued when they opened a taproom and eatery in the front half of the brewery, making it easy to get a delicious meal and the freshest beer in Alberta. That was five years ago this month, and your intrepid liquor reporter has been a regular visitor since the day they opened.

    Unlike some of the larger brewing companies, Wild Rose Brewery produces only full-bodied ales, so they may have an intimidating flavor to a lager drinker. Wild Rose produces a number of signature brews on contract as “house beers” for a number of local pubs. Additionally, seven different ales are sold under the Wild Rose label: Wild Rose Brown Ale, Wraspberry Ale, Velvet Fog, Industrial Park Ale, Wred Wheat, SOB, and Alberta Crude Oatmeal Stout.

    Wild Rose Brown Ale is their best-selling draught beer, with a dark brown color, and a taste reminiscent of burnt chocolate. An excellent choice for those who enjoy dark beers.

    Wraspberry Ale used to only be produced during the summer months, but popular demand has kept the production lines humming year round. This is a lighter-bodied ale with hints of raspberry and citrus flavors.

    Industrial Park Ale (IPA) is brewed in the same style as India Pale Ale. Yes, that’s an intentional “wink wink nudge nudge” on the acronym, which pays tribute to those early days when the beer was indeed produced in an industrial park in SE Calgary.

    As I’ve waxed poetic in several previous columns, Velvet Fog has long held a special place in my heart. An unfiltered wheat ale in the Hefeweiznen style, this brew has a strong taste and sharp tang of citrus flavor.

    The Wild Rose SOB (Special Old Bitter) is one of the newer additions to the taps, and is the local homage to the English Standard Bitter style of beer. This is the quintessential English beer, being bitter enough to have a bite, but flavorful enough hops to make it enjoyable.

    The Alberta Crude Oatmeal Stout is only available in the taproom, so you’ll have to pay them a visit if to try the best Stout beer this side of the Atlantic.

    Luckily, for those that want to enjoy fresh beer at home, Wild Rose has the perfect invention for your next soirée – the Party Pig! An 8.5 litre self-contained, self-pressurized pig-shaped beer keg!

    Similar to those boxed wines you’ve heard me making fun of in the past, the Party Pig has a plastic bladder that collapses as you pour, keeping your draught beer fresh for up to a month! Finally, you can take a pig home from the bar and not have to endure the taunts and jibes of your friends the next day.

    To learn more, please proceed directly to your favorite drinking establishment, and ask your friendly bartender for the Wild Rose brew of your choice.