The Edmonton Expo Centre at Northlands in June is northern Alberta’s largest collection of beer. Whether it’s your first trip, or you’ve attended every one, there is always something new at the festival. Here are a few things you should look for as you walk around in search of Beervana.
The Edmonton Craft Beer Festival has been around for over a half decade and has seen growth every year. This year is no exception. The first thing you will notice is the number of Alberta craft breweries. When the show began earlier this decade, there were less than a half dozen local breweries involved. With well over 50 brewery licenses having already been doled out by AGLC, it’s not hard to see the explosion in local breweries. Not all will be at the show- some do not yet have a finished building, let alone beer to try- but expect over 30 Alberta breweries present.
Of course you will not have heard of many of them, as some have not yet opened. Many of these breweries are getting their beer made at other breweries while their facility is being built (called contract brewing). They include Brauerei Fahr, Elbeck, and Six Corners. A few breweries are very new, having opened in the past year or so. The Edmonton and area ones, who may have been in Edmonton in 2016, are Yellowhead, Two Sergeants, Bent Stick, and Situation.
Others breweries may seem foreign to Edmontonians because they are located all over the province. The growth in brewing has seen many small towns outside Edmonton and Calgary embrace the industry. Look for breweries from Medicine Hat (Hell’s Basement), Grand Prairie (GP and Grain Bin), Lethbridge (Coulee and Theoretically), Edgerton (Ribstone), Plamondon (Fat Unicorn), Canmore (Canmore), Red Deer (Troubled Monk and Something Brewing), Lacombe (Blindman), Yellowhead County (Bench Creek), and the Bearhill Group with their Banff, Jasper and Ft. McMurray (Wood Buffalo) brewpubs represented.
Then there are the veterans at the show, who always have some new beer to try. These breweries are now the godparents of Alberta brewing and include Big Rock, Wild Rose, Grizzly Paw, Brewsters, Village, Minhas, and Edmonton’s own Alley Kat. Also, make sure you try the local mead from Fallentimber; they also have sparkling hop mead and a meadjito (you have to try it to find out what it is).
Naturally, there will be craft breweries from across Canada present. There will be well over two dozen from B.C. and plenty from Ontario and Quebec. Certainly, it wouldn’t be a show if Canada’s brewing giants weren’t there and the Big Three of Molson’s, Labatt’s, and Sleeman’s will not disappoint. In addition, several importers will be present, bringing us beers from the US, Europe, and the rest of the world. Many of these are iconic beers that set the standard for the beer styles brewed today, so make sure you check them out. Don’t forget the casks- those unique one-offs of local brewing madness. Hurry and try them early, as they run out quickly. If you want a break from all the beer, back for the second year, the Distillery District offers up information and samples from the growing Alberta (and elsewhere) craft distilling boom. Also, search out the two dozen local Edmonton restaurants on-site to keep you fed.
Lastly, don’t forget to drop by Beer University. Here is where you can discover how beer is made, visit the Olds College Brewery booth, and talk to maltsters, barley growers, equipment makers, and other people involved in the industry. There are games and prizes to be won here, and you can earn your MBA (Masters of Beer Appreciation) too. Visit the local beer groups such as Edmonton based Alberta Beer Girls and Edmonton Beer Geeks Anonymous for information on how you can join. If you want to further increase your beer knowledge, attend one of the several seminars being held on site. There you’ll hear from chefs to brewmasters expounding on all things beery.
With so much to see, do, and taste at Edmonton Craft beer Festival, two days does not allow enough time to try it all. So plan your visit, and enjoy the show. There is something for everyone, so drink it all in (figuratively, not literally). The festival runs June 2-3, 2017.
EDMONTON CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL – JUNE 2 & 3, 2017
Get Tickets At: www.myshowpass.com/2017-edmonton-craft-beer-festival
And keep up to date with everything happening in the Alberta beer community by following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @ABBeerfestivals