Tag Archives: beer

Brew U: Olds College Brewery

Lisa with all the gleaming new beer-making tanks at Olds College Brewery

Lisa with all the gleaming new beer-making tanks at Olds College Brewery

For time immemorial, university students and the swilling of suds have been inextricably linked. So to actually get educational certification for sampling and making beer, well, who wouldn’t want to enroll?

Since 2013, Olds College, in central Alberta, has been making this student dream a reality with its two-year brewmaster program. Can you imagine sitting in a campus bar and someone asking what you’re studying? “Making beer, man.” “Yeah, right.”

Yet when you think about it, it may be the perfect program for turning out freshly-minted brewmasters, or apprentices, for all these microbreweries that keep popping up across North America. And what better place to do it than at a long-standing agricultural college surrounded by some of the world’s finest barley fields?

The program was nirvana for student Lisa, who had taken her love for microbrews on a cross-country beer-sampling tour, paired with her Littlest Beer Blog on the Prairie. In honour of International Women’s Day, she and other female students in the program have developed a hopped-up Calamity Jane Pale Ale.

It’s just one of half a dozen standard and seasonal beers that Olds College Brewery sells (in bottles, cans and growlers) in its little retail outlet, a few minutes west of the frenetic Highway 2 (QE 2), an hour north of Calgary. You can also find its products in some Alberta liquor stores, pubs and restaurants. My early verdict: Some decent beers but not yet threatening the best micro-brewmasters.

A growler of oatmeal stout and a six pack of mix-and-match bottles

A growler of oatmeal stout and a six pack of mix-and-match bottles

I just have one question. Is it too late for me to go back to school?

Olds College Brewery
Corner of Highways 27 and 2A, Olds, Alberta
Monday to Saturday noon-6 pm. Closed Sunday

The Latest Beer Innovation: The Tasting Room

Beer doesn't just come in bottles or pints anymore

Beer doesn’t just come in bottles or pints anymore

In the beer-drinking world, many of us sophisticated types long ago evolved from the 24-packs of thin, flavourless piss to craft beers of all persuasions. Though sometimes things get a little carried away with the addition of fruits, chocolate and hot peppers. And don’t get me started on IPAs.

The chocolaty  "breakfast" beer and the geek

The chocolaty “breakfast” beer and the geek

The latest trend is the beer-tasting room, where you can stand, or sit at little tables, and savour small glasses (say, five or eight ounces) of beer, usually produced by an attached brewery. Perhaps the only food offered is from independent food trucks at the curb. Want some beer to take home? You’ll probably have to buy a refillable growler.

Vancouver, for instance, features two new tasting rooms. Brassneck Brewery (2148 Main Street) opened this fall with some eight beers to sample, while 33 Acres Brewing (15 West 8 Avenue) has two on tap. I recently visited the latter, which is a nice, bright place to sip a glass of 33 Acres of Life while chatting with friends. It felt more like a modern coffee shop (minus the laptops) than a prototypical pub. It’s all part of a craft beer renaissance in Vancouver, aided by the updating of antiquated liquor laws that allows the licencing of city tasting lounges.

Smaller glasses of onsite-produced beer at 33 Acres' tasting roomSmaller glasses of onsite-produced beer at 33 Acres’ tasting room

Whether tasting rooms are your cup of beer is a matter of preference. Methinks that in big cities, it’s a trend that’s just getting started.

Road Food For Thought: What ever happened to those beer bottle openers in motel bathrooms? Don’t they know all these craft beers don’t have screw tops?

Why do most bottles of Canadian craft beers contain only 331 or 341 millilitres (11 or a little more ounces) of golden liquid, compared with 12 ounces for their American counterparts? The funny thing is, put the same Canadian beer in a can and you suddenly get 12 ounces (355 ml), often for less money. Go figure.

Blow the foam off the Canadian craft beer (right), and it's an ounce short of its American cousin

Blow the foam off the Canadian craft beer (right), and it’s an ounce short of its American cousin

Obviously, American beer has always been cheaper than Canadian suds. But the production and marketing of specialty brews down south has raised the price of some 22-ounce bottles to between $4 and $9 apiece. Guess they’re taking their cue from the specialty coffeehouses.