Your intrepid liquor reporter has just returned from a fact-finding mission in our provincial capital, where a full week was spent exploring the local pubs, and sampling the fine microbrews that call Edmonton home.
Edmonton is home to a giant Labatt brewery, and there was also a huge Molson brewery that operated from 1913 until 2007, when Molson consolidated their Western Canadian operations in Vancouver.
Needless to say, the inner beer snob of your humble narrator prevented him from quaffing the megabrews, preferring instead to partake of the several craft brews that E-ville has to offer.
Alley Kat Brewing is Edmonton’s largest craft brewer, starting operations back in 1993, and have wide distribution at liquor retailers throughout Alberta.
Alley Kat will soon be celebrating two decades of fine beers, and your intrepid liquor reporter will be doing his part to support local businesses by taking home many cases of their frosty goodness.
Yellowhead Brewing opened their doors in downtown Edmonton back in the summer of 2010, and only brew a single beer. Their Yellowhead Premium Lager is named after an old-timey beer made by the Edmonton Brewing and Malting Company way back in 1894, and was inspired by that historical brew.
Tasting of fresh grasses with just a mild hop bitterness, this is an easy drinking beer for those who normally drink macrobrews. Yellowhead beers are not available in Calgary, but can be found on tap all over Edmonton.
Unfortunately, their downtown location may carry a curse. Yellowhead Brewing set up shop in the former location of the now-defunct Maverick Brewing, who also produced a single lager between 2005-2007, before going into receivership. Let’s hope that Yellowhead Brewing has a long and successful run!
Amber’s Brewing Company has been located in a former egg roll factory just off Whyte Avenue (Edmonton’s version of the Red Mile) since 2007, and makes a wide variety of different beers, all of which are widely available throughout Alberta.
Amber’s brings a rich and storied history to the local beer scene. I remember drinking a fine brew called Bitter & Twisted from Flanagan and Sons Brewing at a seedy hotel bar in Edmonton almost 2 decades ago. Flanagan and Sons are long gone, but guess where the brewery equipment ended up?
That’s right, gentle reader, my first sip of the Amber’s Pale Ale came with a heaping side of déjà vu, and now I know why; I was drinking from the same vats and stills that I had enjoyed many years earlier.
In addition to several unique styles of beer, Amber’s also produces a rum-based drink called Grog Lime Cooler, with chunks of lime suspended in the bottle, and sweetened with sugar. Great for a day at the beach or pool! Be sure to gently invert the bottle for a moment before opening to infuse the lime chunks evenly throughout the bottle.
Sadly, due to a tight real estate market, Amber’s Brewing will be soon relocating to new digs due to a steep rent increase at their current location. Your humble narrator will remember the brewery tours of days gone by, and remember that old building with fondness.
Luckily, there is a silver lining in the dark cloud of picking up and moving an entire brewery. There is a new craft brewery coming to the Edmonton area called Hogshead Brewing, who will temporarily be providing contract brewing for Amber’s during the search for a new location. This will take some of the pressure off of Amber’s Brewing, as there will still be cash flow coming in during their relocation.
Hogshead Brewing is just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the last few government permits, and is expected to throw open their doors for business in the next few months.
The brewery location is in St. Albert, a bedroom community of Edmonton. Interestingly, the brewery is at the current site of the Spider Beverage Company, an importer and distributor of many strange and exciting different beers, wines, and spirits.
While the brewery is not yet open, your humble narrator is speculating that the Spider Beverage Company is branching out into producing their own beer, rather than just distributing beverages for others.
I’ll keep a close eye on them and maybe even find a reason to slip up to Edmonton for a weekend to try their new beer directly from the source