May is a wild and crazy month for the tipplers of the world, and I have been making the most of it.
In local news, we are celebrating the 50th birthday of the Bloody Caesar, which was invented in Calgary’s Westin Hotel back in 1969. Many brunchtime Caesars have been consumed as hair of the dog on the morning after a long night of boozing it up, and this month marks 50 years of Caesars, with many more to come!
Those of Germanic descent may already be aware that this is the time of year for drinking Maibock, a style of Bock beer that is traditionally released in May. The true origins of the Bock name have been lost in the beer-soaked mists of time, but the most popular assumption is that Bock is a corruption of the word Einbeck, the small Bavarian town that invented this particular style.
Interestingly, Bock is also the German term for a male goat, so the high-alcohol brew is often assumed to have the kick of a billy goat. Further in line with the whole goat mythos, Bock is normally brewed while Capricorn (aka the goat) is ascendant in the heavens, so you’ll just have to pick the story you like best.
Fortunately, many local Alberta breweries are producing one-off seasonal Bock beers, so you will not have to go all the way to Munich to try one. My local favourite is a Weizenbock (Wheat Bock), made as a collaboration between the German-themed Brauerie Fahr in Turner Valley, and Edmonton-based Analog Brewing.
A light and fluffy mouthfeel from the malted wheat balances the 7.2% ABV kick. Available in tallboy cans at well-stocked booze merchants, but only for a limited time, so find them while you still can!
If wheat beers are not your favourite, Lethbridge-based Hell’s Basement Brewery has a seasonal Bock beer called Elevator, made the Doppelbock (double) style, a malt bomb with notes of toffee and raisin that will bock your socks off!
Should lighter beers be your preferred tipple, Cinco de Mayo saw muchas cervesas consumed to celebrate the astonishing military victory of a ragtag Mexican militia over much better-equipped French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. What better time to pair a few enchiladas with a Corona or Tecate?
Coming in right after Cinco de Mayo was National Beverage Day on May 6, an obscure occasion that goes back to 1921, and originally started as a way to introduce consumers to the brand-new technology of carbonated sodas, and try to convince the drinking public that fizzy drinks were safe and hygenic.
In modern times, National Beverage Day still exists, but is not much more than a bootnote in history, with no boozy or soft drink manufacturers rallying behind that day as a call for imbibing.
The first weekend in May also brought us the 15th annual Calgary International Beerfast, which I have faithfully attended every year, from its humble beginnings in a disused aircraft repair hangar at SAIT, to its present incarnation at the BMO Centre on the Stampede Grounds.
Despite its international aspirations, the annual beerfest bacchanalia has become much more local each year, if only because the Alberta craft brewing and distilling industries have grown in leaps and bounds over the last 15 years, so local purveyors of hooch now far outnumber the international beer companies.
I volunteer on the judging panel at beerfest each year, and see the quality and quantity of local Alberta brews growing with each passing year, much to the delight of the beer fans of our fair province.
My favourite new brewery is Legend 7 Brewing, located in the so-called Barley Belt of Calgary, a neighbourhood home to more than a dozen craft breweries, with a new one popping up every month or so.
Legend 7 opened their doors in late 2017, and has 7 core brews, plus an assortment of one-off seasonals. The brewery has on onsite taproom with a small but well-curated food menu.
My favourite is the Table for 7 Tafelbier, made in the style of a Belgian Table Beer, an orange-gold easy drinker that weighs in at only 3.7% ABV, but still has a malt-forward structure, nicely balanced with aromatic Belgian yeasts.
Make the most of the month of May by seeking out a new Alberta brew at your local watering hole!