Well, this summer has been a bust. Here we are staring down the barrel of the Labour Day weekend, back to school, and fall is just around the corner. My one highlight of the entire month of August was the 13th annual International Beer Day, which I spent on a long and boozy Zoom conference in a celebration of all the joys that beer brings us.
First celebrated in California in 2007, IBD has grown into a worldwide soiree, with past years boasting events in 200 cities and 50 countries across the world. Unfortunately, since that accursed pandemic has so many people doing their beer drinking from the isolation of their own home, there was no visit to a local beer parlour this year, so I joined my regular drinking posse online for some beer and good cheer in front of the webcam.
The declared purpose of IBD is threefold: To gather with friends and enjoy the taste of beer; To celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving beer; To unite the world under the banner of beer, by celebrating the beers of all nations together on a single day.
In previous years, I tried to enjoy a pint from every continent during International Beer Day. Antarctica was always a tough one, but I substituted a Newfoundland beer from the Quidi Vidi brewery made with water harvested from the icebergs floating off the rocky coast near St. John’s, which seemed as close to Antarctic beer as I would be able to manage.
This year was entirely different, with travel restrictions keeping everyone at home, so I decided to take a decidedly local slant for International Beer Day, by sticking to a boozy version of the hundred mile diet, and restricting myself to beers made in southern Alberta, but brewed in styles originating from around the world.
Faithful readers will not be surprised to hear that my first tipple was a Munich Dunkel, a dark lager from Brauerie Fahr in Turner Valley, the most authentic German brewery this side of Munich. 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.
Brauerie Fahr has only been open for a few years, but has been racking up awards and accolades at an amazing rate, most recently winning four Judge’s Selection medals at the Alberta Beverage Awards last month. Many years ago, in the bygone days of my squandered youth, I spent a summer vacation in Germany, drinking my way across the country by train, stopping the old city squares each day to visit a centuries-old brewery dedicated to the local specialty. Visiting the taproom of Brauerie Fahr in Turner Valley takes me back to those halcyon days of youth, capturing the essence of each style of beer like only a born-and-bred German brewmaster can.
Looking a bit north to Lacombe, Blindman Brewing is famous for their Belgian-inspired sour beers, so I made sure to pick up some of their recently released Dry Hopped Kettle Sour, which has gone through 13 different recipe tweaks over the years to arrive at this masterpiece, so if sour beers are your thing, seek out Blindman Brewing on the shelves of your friendly neighbourhood booze merchant.
Unsurprisingly, I saved our most local and most delicious beer for last, in the form of the Left of the Lake Kveik from our local pride and joy of Township 24 Brewing right here in Chestermere.
Kveik refers to a unique form of yeast that has been used for centuries in Norwegian farmhouse ales, but is not restricted to a specific beer style. From centuries of being largely unknown outside of Norway, the Kveik yeast strain is enjoying skyrocketing popularity all over the world, thanks to its wide temperature tolerances, rapid fermentation, and subtle hints of orange and tropical citrusy flavours imparted to the beer.
Kveik yeast can be used in many beer styles, and the mad geniuses at Township 24 brewed up a Pale Ale with Kveik yeast that has been flying off the shelves, so get it while you still can!
There were far too many other international beer styles enjoyed on IBD to be described here, but with so many craft brewers in Alberta, I will keep up my efforts to try them all. Support your local brewing industry by checking out their wares!
You too, gentle reader, can do your part to promote beer-related happiness. In the spirit of International Beer Day, why not give the gift of beer to a friend? And be sure to tip your servers at the local watering hole; they put up with all our debaucherous misbehaviours while we are imbibing, and they deserve some love!