Phew! It’s been a while between beer posts but not to worry, I’m still drinking beer. So much has happened since the last Hops ‘n’ Bubbles post. In particular Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission had relaxed a few of the arcane rules that kept our provincial beer industry from flourishing and now, well…it’s flourishing. Around a dozen craft beer breweries have opened or will be opening their doors by the end of the year, with 2017 numbers looking to stretch far beyond that.
I guess, that kind of news is subject for another day…but right now I want to return to an old favourite, Village Brewery and their (in)famous ‘Hump Day’ formally informal gathering of artists, farmers, brewers, food writers, dudes about town, and high falutin’ mucky mucks with at least one thing in common. The love of a good beer, and (okay, two things in common) belief in community. Once the beer starts flowing, introductions are made and the conversations start rolling. Around 3 pm, the speeches begin.
Humpdays at Village Brewery always carry a hint of excitement, but this one was extra special because it was launch day for TWO new village brews and the unveiling of the Winter Variety Pack.
Village Gardener Basil IPA
2016 marks the fourth year of the Village Gardener collaboration between local community gardens (and individual hop growing enthusiasts) and Village Brewery. It’s the ‘wild card’ of all their annual brews because no one really knows from year to year what ingredients will be used or how they will influence the flavour of the beer. This year, the brewery decided to add a bit of the green herb to the brew. Not THAT green herb… but BASIL. It was added to the fermentation stage, but removed after only two days because it was quite aromatic. Given the chance, basil can become quite overpowering but after a taste of the beer, I was really impressed by how well it complimented the IPA style. Most people think of an IPA as a summery type hot weather beer, but this one has a nice dark copper colour and some great malt flavour as well. It’s surprisingly well balanced and the perfect fall/harvest IPA.
- IBU 50
- ABV 6.5%
- Two Row Malted barley from Red Shed Malting
- Various hops from Parkdale, Bridgeland-Riverside, Killarney-Glengarry, Inglewood, Glenmore, Wildwood, Winston Heights, Hillhurst/Sunnyside, Midnapore-Sundance, Southwood, Bankview, Grow Calgary, plus many individual growers.
Village Enigma Uncommon Amber Ale
The Enigma Uncommon Amber Ale was meant to be the ‘swan song’ or ‘one of the last’ brews from Brewmaster Larry Kerwin who came to be at Village after a 40 career as a brewing beer.
“The Village Enigma is an American styled Amber Ale. Rich with caramel sweetness, the Enigma hits your palate upfront. Though the sweetness is prevalent, we balance it nicely with a bitterness addition of Galena and a aromatic dry hopping bill complete with Centennial, Belma, Tahoma and Citra.” Hmmm well yes. It has a bit of sweetness and I loved the initial aromas, but for me that ‘galena’ or mineral effect really takes over. I knew it was craving a bit more sweetness even before I was told it was ‘gluten reduced’.
- Style: American Amber Ale
- 5% ABV
- Hops: Centennial, Belma, Tahoma, and Citra
When you buy a Village Brewery variety pack, you are buying much more than beer. You are literally buying art. The box is a gorgeous oil painting entitled ‘Wild Ponies’ was painted by local artist Jack Rigaux. His Joni Mitchell inspired painting shows whimsical merry-go-round ponies moving among a sparse forest winterland. Inside, you can find four Village Brewery favourites; Village Blonde, Village Blacksmith, Village Squeeze, and the new Village Enigma.