Beer is a lot like tennis. The rising stars first need to win the provincial competitions in order to qualify for the national competitions, with those winners going on to compete in the world cup.
Faithful readers may recall me waxing poetic about a little brewery in Turner Valley that opened a few years ago, and has been racking up the awards ever since.
The Fahr Copper is a Vienna Style Lager, and won gold at the World Beer Awards last week. As you may have guessed, this beer style is originally from the Austrian city of Vienna, once the cultural capital of Europe, as well as the capital city of three different empires. Pouring a copperish hue into my pint glass, there are notes of toffee from the caramelized malts, balanced with toasted grains and noble German hops for aroma, but very little hop bitterness.
The Vienna Style Lager has conquered the world, with every beer producing country having several examples of this clean and easy drinking beer, making it even more impressive that a small Canadian brewery from Turner Valley won the gold.
Even more impressive is the Fahr Hefe, which won the world’s best Bavarian Style Hefeweiss wheat beer, an award that has always previously gone to a German brewery.
Braurerie Fahr is named for its founder, Jochen Fahr, who grew up in a small German village, and moved to Alberta to complete a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Calgary.
While his schooling was originally intended to focus on industrial processing, the beer lovers of Alberta rejoiced when he decided to open a craft brewery in 2015, putting those engineering skills to good use in designing and constructing a brewery in the small town of Turner Valley, about an hour southwest of Chestermere. If you have not sampled the wares in the brewery taproom, put it on your to-do list the next time you visit Turner Valley.
Perhaps the sting of being bested by a small Canadian brewery will be lessened when the centuries-old German breweries who have always cleaned up in the Bavarian Style Hefeweiss category realize the world’s best Bavarian Hefeweiss is still being brewed with precision by a German brewmaster, who (fortunately for us) relocated to Alberta.
This beer style is notable for its unique yeast, imparting notes of banana, cloves, and white peppercorns. Typically a cloudy beer due to suspended wheat proteins, the Fahr Hefe has long been my favourite German wheat beer, and it has now been affirmed as the best example of the style in the entire world. This would be a good time to run, not walk, to your friendly neighbourhood booze merchant before all the stock disappears from the shelves!
Germany has always been a lager drinking country, and Brauerie Fahr lives up to that reputation, with not a single ale in their lineup. However, their Munich Lager is an amazing example of a lager than drinks like an ale, pouring a dark garnet colour into my glass, with notes of coffee, burnt chocolate, and dark fruits from the roasted malt bill.
As a huge fan of dark beers, this one has always been my go-to brew back when I would visit the taproom in Turner Valley in those carefree pre-pandemic days, when a Saturday afternoon jaunt to a brewery was still a thing. Fortunately, all of the Fahr brews are widely available in cans at booze merchants across Alberta, so I have been enjoying them while safely ensconced at home.
For those macrobrew drinkers in the audience, the Fahr Pils is the perfect gateway beer. The Pilsner beer style is originally from the Czech town of Pilzn, and uses Saaz hops for a bitter finish, but the Germans have made the style their own, with German Pilsners much less hoppy, making for a clean and fresh easy drinker, the perfect stepping stone for those raised on a steady diet of Coors Lite to come over to the crafty side.
Whatever your preferred tipple, Brauerie Fahr has a beer for you, and these international accolades are sure to cause a swell in demand, so pick up a six-pack at your friendly neighbourhood booze merchant before they disappear, or visit their taproom the next time you are in Turner Valley to enjoy straight from the source.