Tag Archive: Go Leafs


Calgery

Notice I did not put “aboot” or “eh” in that title. Attempting to avoid cliché and stereotype. Anyway, since I have had a few weeks to collect my thoughts about my two weeks in Canada I thought I would do a quick bluffers guide on what I encountered. As always I was only there a short time, and only in Alberta and British Columbia so do not take this as a definitive guide.

Most obvious thing I saw? Beer serving sizes vary wildly. When offered a “pint” this could be 16 fluid ounce, 20 fluid ounce, or in one case oddly 18 fluid ounce. So 473ml, 591ml, and 532ml respectively – assuming US fluid ounces. Also I saw .40L and .45L offered. So, yeah expecting standardised measures is waaay out. I always heard Canada was inclusive and they seem to take that to mean they should include every measure under the sun. Not a big deal, but worth being aware of. Incidentally, for reference a Brit pint is 568ml.

Vancouver definitely had the most booming beer scene, but in my entire time I didn’t stay somewhere without a Brewpub nearby – for those of you who like to drink local there will generally be something to find. In most places they kept a good range of beers, but nothing too experimental, though this did change in Vancouver where sours and odd infusions broke out. Also definitely tended towards the lighter coloured beers, far more places had their own lager than I am used to in the UK, also lots of love for the hefeweizen, especially fruit variants, but less love for the darker beers. In fact tart fruit additions to the lighter beer seems to be one of the twists that is popular no matter where you go, and is one of the experimentations that is seen often outside of Vancouver. Though this could be because I visited when it was stupidly hot.

ABV seemed pretty tight around the 5% mark for the most part, I was amused by session beers coming in at a whopping 0.5% abv lighter. The exception to this was IPAs which stood at robust six to seven percent for the most part, as they should be – and in that put a lot of UK IPAs to shame. Speaking of UK comparisons, while keg taps were the standard, the old traditional hand pull was not exactly absent – with one or two hand pull taps poking out being seen at about half the brewpubs I visited. I am ashamed to say I didn’t try any of those, so I cannot speak to the quality. maybe next time. What is nice, and was near everywhere, was a vast quantity of information on the beer you were about to drink. ABV, IBU, OG, hop usage, some times even malt usage. The UK, and frankly most beer scenes could do well to learn from this – an informed beer drinker is often a happier beer drinker with their pint – of whatever size that may be.

Also, I am starting to wonder if Britain is the only place where people go to the pub and don’t generally, intend to have food. Maybe we just really like getting drunk. that may say bad things about us as a culture. Most places I went were offering food, and seemed about as busy as restaurants as they were as pubs. The food was bloody good for the most part as well, standard expected items – pizza, mac and cheese, poutine, steak, burgers, etc – but done incredibly well in most places I hit.

banff beer

Where Canada did seem behind the UK, was in bottle shops. I did a bit of hunting, and found a few good bottle shops, but they seemed less common, and generally had a smaller selection that I was used to. When you did find a good one they usually had a quality, but not overly large selection. Also, the habit of selling stuff in six packs seemed common here as well as the USA. Not bad for locals I guess, but as a beer traveller it did mean I couldn’t experiment as much as I am used to. You also rely on specialist shops a lot more, I didn’t really see much bottled or canned beer being sold outside of specialist stores, though in what I did see canning seemed the more popular route. If you want to try a good range of Canadian beer you will be relying on the tap houses more than in most places.

What really stood out, in both the beer scene and general, was the friendliness – as a sometimes solo drinker, being plonked sat at the bar can often be a tad awkward- but here there was always some beer friend willing to strike up a random conversation. Always cool. The friendliness comes behind the bar as well, samples are often offered and generous in proportion, tabs are often started up automatically with a level of trust unseen in most UK pubs. In fact, they come with a modesty that actually caused problems some times – I was raring to try the local Canadian beers and the staff kept recommending me the USA stuff as awesome. Still, when it comes to the end of the night, remember that friendliness and tip. 15% is standard (before taxes) and with a good exchange rate the beers are not bad value. When looking at prices I kept thinking they were a bit steep but not insanely so, then realising I hadn’t converted them into pounds. So pretty ok value. Food especially.

Overall, well, this write up may seem slightly more restrained than most of my world trip guides, and I think it is because the Canadian beer scene is equally balanced. It seems to have elements from many different beer cultures, and a gentle polite delivery of its own. Nothing too out there, but welcoming. It doesn’t have any items that makes it a must visit beer scene, like for example Belgium, but there are many other reasons to visit Canada, and while you are there – the beers will not disappoint. As always this was from a short visit, locals and regular visitors feel free to correct me or let me know what the rest of Canada is like. Heck if the rest of Canada is much different I may have to visit again, ya know, just to check. It is a hard life.

Oh, and GO LEAFS!

Banff

Dolphin

Ok, been a bit of gap there. Sorry about that. Been out having fun,,er,,,I mean doing hard research. In Vancouver at the moment. After the absolutely amazing mountain views I have to admit to being happy to be somewhere a bit more built up.

So. Important things first Nanaimo Bars are awesome.

Ok. Important things out of the way. Oh, also there is a Japadog stand. Japanese style hot dogs. No I have no idea what that means. May have to try them.

Anyway, beer scene is a bit more familiar here. In that there is tons of it. I got lost, bumped into a brewpub and so grabbed a quick half there whilst asking for directions. Good times. Also more experimentation going on here, I’ve been seeing more sours, more infused beers, more funky yeast tricks and such like. For most of the nights I’ve been in Canada people have been telling me to check out Steamworks beers, so now I’m here it is time to do so, but I have run into some pretty impressive stuff so far. Bottleshops don’t seem to pack as large a range as I am used to, but tap houses are running some impressive lists.

Beer sized are odd though. I’ve seen pints at 16, 18, and 20 fluid ounces, .40L and .45L measures, frankly anything. All good as long as you keep track but it can be confusing.

Also I’ve been drinking tons of water. It is far too bloody hot here for a Yorkshireman.

Back home soon and I can start putting up the notes.

Until next time, enjoy your drink. Here is Darth Vader playing a fiddle. Because of course.

Darth Vader Playing A Fiddle

Lake

Wow. Just wow. Banff National Park is breathtaking. Aquamarine blue water, towering mountains. Heading a few hours out to walk on ice fields. Wow.

Ok, that sounded almost cultured. I need to rein that back in. Ahem, obviously the most important thing about those ice fields is the super clean water from it that can be used to make beer.

There, back on topic.

Something else I have noticed about Canadian beer, it seems to follow the USA craft movement style wise, but in a more mellow fashion – the flavours seem to be emphasised over pushing extreme bitterness or abv. Also so far they seem way less carbonated that the USA scene, which I kind of approve of, it makes it easier to sit and enjoy without feeling gassy. So far the range of beers doesn’t seem as experimental, they seem to work around the core styles – but I still have a lot of land to cover so that may change.

It’s been a three day weekend here so everywhere has been packed, especially Grizzly Paw brewpub – thanks to all the staff there for being so awesome friendly despite being rushed off their feet. Also thanks to The Banff Ave Brewpub, again great staff and they give massive samples for you to make up your mind from – they also let me into the brewing area to take some photos – all much appreciated.

Speaking of Grizzy, I ran into a (non Grizzly) bear. I am also not dead. Go me.

Right, off on the next stage of the trip – Until next time, enjoy your drink.

Bear

Tim Hortons

Yeah, it is that time again, where I shoot off to a new country and pretend it is research for the blog. In this case CANADA! Woo!

Just in Calgary at the mo, moving on soon. I am slowly getting over my paranoia that everyone being so nice to me is in fact a huge long running dry sarcastic prank. I am starting to think they may actually just be friendly and polite.

I am not used to this.

Few quick thoughts beer wise. Summer is here and the weisse, lager and IPA seem to rule the roost. Stouts and other such dark beers seem extremely rare. With the weather I can see why, but I do miss the old dark and heavy. Also what is cool is they do a lot of fruit infused beers, seems to go well with the summer style, grapefruit, pineapple, cherry, lots of good stuff. So far they seem well balanced as well, adding to rather than dominating the beer. This is, however, based on just one nights drinking.

Also, if you are ever here, try the beer revolution craft beer and pizza bar. The staff are awesome nice, the beer list is great and … Holy fuck, the pizza. I had a Blazing Saddles. You know that scene from Dr Mcninja. It was like that. Metaphorically. I managed to resist shouting it out loud

Serious awesome.

Anyway, until next time, enjoy your drink.
Calgery Tower

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