With hundreds of beers from around the world for sale in Alberta, there’s no shortage of gifts or stocking stuffers for the beer lover on your Christmas list. But if you want to take things to the next level, give a beer that’s relatively rare or collectable, or send someone on a fun beer-related experience he or she won’t soon forget. Here are a few ideas, just in time for the holidays.
Edmonton’s Blind Enthusiasm Brewing is releasing the first creation from its Monolith brewery, which specializes in mixed-fermentation beers. The wild yeast strains used in these kinds of beers bring a funk and complexity that’s prized by many craft drinkers, but those traits can sometimes scare off the uninitiated.
Measure of Patience is a gentle introduction to the genre for locals: At 5.9 per cent alcohol, it’s a pale golden ale that’s light, effervescent and balanced with moderate acidity and fruitiness.
“It’s meant to be a mixed-fermentation beer that someone who has never had the style can enjoy,” Blind Enthusiasm owner Greg Zeschuk says.
Measure of Patience will be available at Blind Enthusiasm’s Ritchie Market location, as well as select liquor stores; 750 mL bottles will retail for approximately $20, and 375 mL bottles will sell for about $12.
Sherbrooke Liquor is known for its abundance of beer — but the store is also home to a rare gem. Every fall, the store dusts off a dwindling stash of Samichlaus doppelbock made in 2010, packaged in 750 mL bottles and bundled in a limited-edition gift set with two branded tulip glasses.
Samichlaus is a strong (14 per cent ABV) and complex beer that’s made for sipping on a cold winter’s night. What makes the gift set particularly special is that aging has deepened the flavours and added more complexity.
“You get tons of raisins, prunes and a lot of dates. It also has a vinous red wine characteristic to it now and some brandy,” says Stephen Bezan, beer manager at Sherbrooke, adding that the gift pack sells for just under $35.
For many beer enthusiasts, visiting breweries is a fun way to learn more about how their favourite beers are made and the people who make them. Alberta Craft Tours is a local company that organizes excursions to some Edmonton breweries.
The company’s most popular package stops at five Edmonton breweries. There’s a sample flight at each stop, as well as a chat about the brewery’s story and the beer-making process. As the bus rolls between stops, a guide provides a narrative of Edmonton’s rich brewing history. The tour costs $150 and includes lunch at Situation Brewing. The company also offers single-site tours for $25 and can design custom tours for groups. Book at albertacrafttours.com.
Another source of fun, beer-related socializing is Beer School, a series of events held nine or 10 times a year by 7 Degrees Liquor. Each event features beer and food pairings based on a certain theme or cuisine, served up with a discussion on tasting notes and information about the beer.
Beer School events are typically around $60. You can find information about upcoming sessions at sevendegrees.ca.