We are rapidly approaching the month of July, the first truly good month for outdoor boozing in Alberta. June is sorta-ok for outdoor boozing, except for the occasional billion-dollar hailstorm like we had a few weeks back, but the weather really doesn’t warm up consistently until July.
The month of July usually opens up with Canada Day, then flows right into Stampede week in nearby Calgary, two of the booziest events of the year. Sadly, stampede was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, and Canada Day looks like it will be but a pale shadow of its usual frolics and festivities, due to the ongoing restrictions on public gatherings.
I may decide to skip my annual exercise of squeezing into that pair of Wranglers with the oversized belt buckle this year, as there will likely be no two-stepping in the local pub parking lot while a country band performs, nor will I be dressing to impress the buckle-bunnies at the rodeo. The t-shirt with the red maple leaf will still be in the wardrobe rotation, although I will be probably be celebrating Canada Day from the confines of home, patriotically enjoying a fine Canadian beer.
On the plus side, avoiding Stampede parties also means avoiding Labatt megabrews, who have enjoyed an exclusivity contract with the Calgary Stampede for decades, which is only now starting to slowly fray around the seams, as a few tiny Alberta craft brewers are squeaking in.
For those who may have missed it, Labatt Breweries was one of Canada’s first, opened by John Labatt in 1847 in Ontario, but has been wholly owned by Belgian conglomerate InBev since 1995, so is not really considered a Canadian beer any longer.
To keep the true north strong and free on Canada Day, I will be enjoying the wares of our fine locally owned craft brewers, studiously avoiding those who have been stealthily acquired by the international megabrewers. I will regret no longer enjoying the delicious suds from Wild Rose Brewing, which was acquired by Sleeman last year, who is in turn owned by Japan-based Sapporo Brewing. Ditto for Calgary-based Banded Peak Brewing, acquired earlier this year by Labatt, a subsidiary of Belgium-based InBev, the same conglomerate that makes Bud Light, Miller, and hundreds of other megabrews.
While I generally stick to the fine craft brewers of Alberta, I embraced the spirit of federalism and found a few variety packs of beer from Ottawa brewers at my friendly neighbourhood booze merchant, and will try to refrain from opening them until July 1, as my way of paying homage to our nation’s capital for Canada Day.
Fortunately, Beau’s All Natural Brewing has long been available here in Alberta, so I knew exactly what I was getting into when I picked up a variety pack to prepare for Canada Day, as I have enjoyed them all several times.
Lug Tread is the easy-drinking option from Beau’s, made in the German Kölsch style that faithful readers may recall me waxing poetic about many times. Lug Tread is fermented at a warm temperature using an ale yeast, but then cold conditioned like a lager, resulting in a hybrid beer style that brings out the best easy-drinking features of a lager with the more complex flavour profile of an ale.
The Countdown Pale Ale is certified organic, so very popular with the back-to-nature crowd, and a shining example of the Pacific Northwest style of Pale Ale that has taken North America by storm, using organically grown hops from a small farm in Oregon, combined with a centuries-old German yeast strain for a hoppy backbone with a clean finish.
Bitter beer lovers will enjoy the Full Time IPA, with double the hops of the Countdown Pale Ale, with a plenty of tropical and citrusy notes on the nose from the aromatic hops, with a bracing bitterness on the palate, well balanced by the four different grains in the malt bill. This one weighs in at 6.0% ABV, which is at the lower end of the IPA style, making it easier to enjoy more than one.
Whatever your preferred tipple this Canada Day, be it beer, wine, or spirits, there is sure to be a delicious Canadian option to whet your whistle, so show your patriotism this Canada Day with a glass of the local hooch!