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  • International Beer Day


    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 14th annual International Beer Day, which I spent with the increasingly wary group of my double-vaxxed comrades in a sunny backyard, celebrating 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.  Celebrations last year were an online-only affair, boozing it up over Zoom due to what we thought was the height of the pandemic in August 2020, with 13 thousand active COVID cases in Alberta.  A full year has passed since then, and we are down to 3000-ish active cases, so the fully vaccinated members of my regular crew were able to gather outdoors in my sunny backyard.

    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.

    These past two years of pandemic times have been entirely different, with travel restrictions keeping everyone at home, so I am sticking to 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 from Strathmore’s own Origin Malting & Brewing, a family-owned business that has been growing world-class malting barley for more than 40 years.

    The Homestead Marzen Lager is my favourite summer beer from Origin, made in the Märzenbier style, best known as the official beer style of that little beer bash known as Oktoberfest.  A small portion of the grain bill is made up of Munich and Dark Munich malts, lending a bit of toffee flavour and darker colouring to the beer.  Like many German-styled brews, the finish is crisp and clean, with very little hop bitterness, and it goes down smoothly on a hot summer day, with the lederhosen being entirely optional.

    Origin Malting & Brewing was considerate enough to put out an experimental one-off Hazy IPA to recognize International Beer Day, so I filled up a few growlers to enjoy at home.  Juicy and aromatic IPA styles are all the rage right now, and this one did not disappoint, so I hope to see it pop up again in rotation at the Origin tap room over the coming months.

    Closer to home, I observed International Beer Day in a decidedly local way, with our local pride and joy of Township 24 Brewing, who also put out a one-off brew for IBD called Sunset Cove Tropical IPA.  Loads and loads of aromatics thanks to the dry-hopping, and juicy tropical flavours bursting from the glass.  I filled up two growlers on IBD, and came back the following day for one more, so pop into the tap room on Rainbow Road to try it before they run out!

    Despite the one-off Tropical IPA being an excellent brew, it may not usurp my all-time favourite Meridian Black Lager from Township 24, which somehow manages to be a flavourful dark beer with the clean and crisp finish of a lager.  Made in the classic German Schwarzbier style, this type of brew is rare in North America, making me all the more appreciative to have it so close to home.

    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!