While I am happy to finally see the year 2020 in the rearview mirror, not much has changed in the early days of January. I am still isolated at home with only a fully stocked beer fridge to keep me company.
Unless you happen to be an Alberta politician, you may have had to forego many of your holiday traditions, be they travel to sunny climes, time spent with friends and family, or visits to your favourite drinking establishment.
My extended family gathered virtually for Christmas dinner from the safety of our respective homes, using strategically placed laptops on a group Skype call, so we managed to get together while remaining safely apart.
Sadly, I do have a December tradition that was missed this year, the night of fun and frivolity at the Township 24 taproom to celebrate their third birthday, which passed by uneventfully on December 28 due to the ongoing pandemic.
I can still recall my giddy elation when Township 24 Brewing announced they would be opening in Chestermere, and I was the first customer in the door on that miserably cold and snowy day in December 2017, eager to drink deeply from the freshest and most local beer ever to grace the shores of Chestermere Lake.
Chestermere is no longer the beerless desert I recall from the squandered days of my bygone youth, chugging stale Labatt Blue in the original Chestermere Landing. Our town has been graced by Township 24 Brewing for three years now, although it seems like COVID has stolen one of those years from us.
In those carefree pre-pandemic days of yore, Township 24 quickly became a favourite destination, with lycra-clad yoga fans popping into the taproom for a midday kombucha after a class at the nearby yoga studio, to music fans gathering for the regular open mic nights, and beer lovers popping in at all hours, either for a quick takeaway growler fill or six-pack, or to sit and while the hours away in the taproom with good friends, good beer, and maybe even good vittles from a food truck parked outside.
The first lockdown in March closed the restaurants and brewery tap rooms across the province, with our plucky craft brewers quickly pivoting to home delivery as taproom sales dried up. Recalling the bleak years of drinking bland macrobrews at the golf course way back when our community was still known as the Summer Village of Chestermere Lake, I very much want our local brewery to still be around after the pandemic, so I have been supporting Township 24 with regular home delivery of growlers and cans full of their delicious wares.
While I do miss those ten taps of frosty goodness in the taproom, enjoying Township 24 while safely ensconced at home has brought me much comfort in these trying times. The flagship brews are always reliable, but I would be remiss if I did not mention my new favourite. Released on December 28 for their 3rd birthday, the Headworks Black IPA is only available for a limited time, so get it while you can, either by takeaway from the taproom, or delivery right to your front door!
The Headworks Black IPA is loaded with dark roasted malts, contrasting with the heady aromas of pine resin and a crisp hop bitterness on the palate. I am usually firmly entrenched in drinking stouts and porters this time of year, but the Headworks Black IPA checks all the boxes for both dark beer fans and hopheads, so I hope it becomes popular enough to appear again.
Other seasonals and one-off brews from Township 24 have been welcome diversions as the pandemic stretched from weeks to months, and whatever fresh horrors 2021 may have in store for us. I still fondly recall the Hopped Rye that I enjoyed on the short-lived Township 24 patio in June, to the jet-black Stout on Halloween, and many other small-batch experimental brews that only had a few kegs worth available by the pint in the taproom during lulls in the lockdowns, or by the growler for takeaway.
Several craft breweries in Alberta have closed their doors permanently due to the pandemic, so help ensure that our beloved Township 24 Brewing is around for many years to come by purchasing their wares directly from the taproom (takeout only), at your neighbourhood liquor store, or delivery directly to your door.