Alley Kat Brewing – Edmonton


You may have noticed an upswing of Alberta beer reviews on the blog lately.  This is because my job has been taking me to Edmonton quite a bit lately.  On the latest trip to the province I was able to stop in to Alley Kat Brewing to get a tour of the facility and get to know some of their staff.  If you are in Edmonton on a Thursday or Friday they do free tours between 12 and 5 currently. The location does not scream brewery on the outside as their sign is pretty small but don’t skip a visit if only to pick up some beer.

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Because you always start in the tasting room I will start there.  The space is large with lots of room to move around.  They sell their growlers (and fills obviously), swag and bottles of beer at the tasting room.  Unfortunately you are not able to sit down to a glass of beer as their license does not currently allow it but you can taste samples of all the beer they have for growler fills.  I really hope this changes though as I really think this could be a great community hub.  Just look at East Vancouver which sits in similar commercial zoning and works amazingly well!

When you head into the back you start out in the original space the brewery began in.  Alley Kat has been expanding both ways in the building over the years but the brew house itself is still in the same location.  The brew house is front and center and behind it you find a bunch of fermentors and bright tanks including their latest two BB8 and BB9 (Yes its BB8 so they have pasted a picture of BB8 to it lol).  Above the brew house on top of the office area they used to house all of their grains but now it only houses their specialty malts as they have a silo outside.

To the left of the unit that houses the brew house you will find anouther unit that houses more fermentors.  They also had their beast of a filter that takes two hours to put together and take about.  Alley Kat Brewing only ships their beer in Alberta but they are working to get it into more bars and liquor stores and have been working to put more fermentors into this space.  Luckily for them there is tones of room in this bay for more tanks.

Anouther bay houses their bottling line.  Its an old line but works well with very few issues with low fills.  They do have a fun bottle that sits in the finished tray that is used as their low fill indicator bottle.

Moving along to anouther bay you will find lots of empty bottles and some packaged product that is about to be sent out via truck to liquor stores and pubs.  There is also their test batch system found here that is responsible for their Dragon Series of Double IPA’s.  It is also where the brewers get to play and test out new recipes for the brewery.

Last but not least I was shown into their Cooler.  This is where they house all of their finished product that they are waiting to ship out.

If you alive in Alberta or find yourself in the province make sure to check out Alley Kat Brewing or at least pick up some of their beer.  If you try no other beer try something from their Dragon Series of Double IPA’s as it is probably their best beers they make.

Thanks to the ladies at Alley Kat Brewing for being so welcoming and helpful while I was at the brewery!

Alley Kat Brewing
http://www.alleykatbeer.com
9929 60th Ave,
Edmonton, Alberta
780-436-8922

Full sized photos

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R&B Brewing (R and B Brewing) (Tour and Construction Update) – Vancouver


R&B Brewing has been going since 1997 in the Brewery Creek District of Vancouver. These guys were the first in the neighborhood to open up a brewery and it stayed that way for quite a while. Things have been changing over at R&B Brewing this year with their purchase by Howe Sound Brewing and their construction of their food primary which will turn them into Vancouver’s newest Brewpub from one of the oldest breweries.  Vancouver’s beer scene keeps changing and they are doing their part to change with it!
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Starting with the present when you walk though the current enterance you find yourself in their growler bar area.  You are able to have small samples of their beers to decide what beer you would like to get filled in your growler.  You could also just purchase a bomber or a 6 pack to take with you.  The space is funky with a ton going on decoration wise.  Behind where you stand in the growler bar is where the grain is stored although I forgot to take a photo of their indoor silos.

The brewery itself has gone through many expansions within its current space knocking out wall after wall to make the space as large as it is today.  The brewhouse is located in its own room at the back corner of the building.  The grain is augured in from the front area where the gain mills are located into the brewhouse.  Once they have gone though the brewing process the grain is then augured out the back wall into the lane where farmers take it away.  Leaving that room you come to the fermenters.  These are actually re-purposed dairy tanks that lay horizontally instead of standing vertically.  They picked these tanks for two reasons.  First they could brew in any vessel you gave them but secondly they cost way less!  Once the beer is finished fermenting they transfer the beer into the cooler into bright tanks and conditioning tanks as well as kegs.  When the beer is ready for sale in bottles it is either put through their fairly high tech 6 pack bottle machine or their Frankenstein bomber filler. Lastly finished and packaged products are transferred into their other cooler to stay until it is ready to hit store shelves or pubs taps.

Now lets not forget that R&B Brewing is also building their 60 seat food primary restaurant.  Like most brewpubs this place will not be a true pub but it just makes more sense calling it one (whose heard of a brew restaurant?). The pub is in the same building although currently separated by a wall.  Along the front of the building there are a bank of windows and behind this will be a raised area with bar seating looking out the windows.  There will be a good sized seating area to the right of the second and third photos.  To the back left of the same photos you will find the bar and behind the bar will be the cold storage and keg room.  To the front left of those photos you will find the kitchen and washrooms.  In the 4th photo you will find the location of the growler station.  Just to the left of where Barry (yes B of R&B) is standing in the photo will be a stage for live music.

The current construction timeline has the pub opening up in January.  I know that I am really looking forward to the pub being open!  The future is looking bright for one of Vancouver’s older breweries so get ready to stop by in the new year.

R&B Brewing
http://www.r-and-b.com
54 East 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
Phone: 604.874.2537
Fax: 604.874.2517
orders@randbbrewing.com

Special Edition Cask Night – Big Rock Urban Brewery


On Monday August 3rd, 2015 I was invited to a Special Edition Cask Night that was held inside the brewery at Big Rock Urban.  The event was invite only version of their Monday Night Cask Nights they hold every week and made for a great time!

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There were 4 casks on offer including two from Big Rock (Pink Peppercorn Strawberry IPA, German Pale Ale) and one from Real Cask (Summer Ale) and Howe Sound Brewing (Sky Pilot with Spruce Tips).  Even though Peppercorns and Strawberry may not sound like a match made in heaven it was by far my favourite of the night!

Like I said my favourite cask of the night was the Pink Peppercorn Strawberry IPA as shown below.

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Pink Peppercorn Strawberry IPA
Apperance – Copper colour with off white head.
Aroma – Peppercorns that almost overshadow strawberry notes completely.
Flavour – lots of peppercorns followed by hops bitterness, resin and just a hint of strawberry.
Final Thoughts – It may sound like an odd pairing but almost to a person it was everyone’s favourite of the night.

Surprisingly this was actually my first time inside the brew house itself at Big Rock Urban so I took a bunch of photos of the brewing equipment.  This is one beautiful brewery!

It was a great night on a holiday Monday and I was happy I got the invite.  If you have not checked out Big Rock Urban Brewery yet you should head over on a Monday for their cask night and have some great food to boot!

Full sized photos can be found here.

Big Rock Urban Brewery
http://bigrockurban.com
310 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1G9
info.BRU@bigrockbeer.com

Red Truck Beer (Brewery) – Vancouver


Red Truck Beer recently opened their doors to their new Brewery and Diner in Vancouver.

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I had stopped by the brewery to check out the diner during their soft launch and that post can be found here.  At that time I was not able to get a tour of the brewery itself though.  That has now changed though as I have now had the pleasure of getting a quick personal tour of the facility.  The tour started by heading up a set of stairs to the second level of the facility (A fairly massive facility).  After being introduced to a handful of the staff at the brewery I was led over to the packaging area first as the canning machine was currently running.  The automation level in the canning and bottling line at this brewery is in a small class of the largest breweries in the province and is quite a sight to see.

Once we had finished checking out the packaging line we walked over the the brewery side of the operation to see what it looked like.  Very few craft breweries have a brewing system with the kind of automation that Red Truck Beer has with the possible exceptions of Central City Brewers & Distillers, Steamworks and possibly Parallel 49 (Did I miss someone).  The brewers and Brewmaster are still the brain of the operation but some of the grunt work has been taken out of the equation with computerization and other mechanical operations.  This computerization can be seen from the second level mezzanine that looks out over the brew house and tank farm.

From here we walked down some stairs to the actual brew house.  They were currently brewing their lager so I was able to take a peak through the windows of their tank.  After seeing the brew house we walked down more stairs to see the underside of the brew house.

This is a truly impressive brewing space and I look forward to what they have in store for us in the future.  Also yes that is a full sized truck hanging from the ceiling of the brewery with a load of kegs in the trucks bed!

Full sized photos.

make sure to take a trip over to the new Red Truck Beer location for a pint or two and some food.

Red Truck Beer
http://redtruckbeer.com/
295 East 1st Avenue
Vancouver, BC
info@redtruckbeer.com
604-682-4RED (604-682-4733)

Burnaby Tours & Charters Craft Brewery Tour – May 16th 2015


On Saturday May 16th, 2015 I was able to check out the Burnaby Tours & Charters Craft Brewery Tour.  Much like many other brewery tour operators the bus stops at multiple breweries within Metro Vancouver.  Unlike most other tour operators though this tour did not have one brewery inside the city of Vancouver.  Another difference from other tour companies there are 17 different locations that you can choose from to be picked up from Canada Place to Lougheed Mall’s parking lot and all kinds of places in between.

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The tour took approximately 4 hours and began for me at Canada Place at 1pm.  From there we picked up a hand full of people along the way to our first brewery destination.

Our first of 4 destinations was a local favourite for many but also a place less of the Vancouver craft beer fans get to.  That brewery is Yellow Dog Brewing in Port Moody.

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Once we arrived we were directed to find a seat in the brewery and our samples of beer would be brought to us.  The lot of us made out way through the taproom, brewery and onto their patio (Probably cause of many jealous breweries in Vancouver).  One thing you will realize right away is that this brewery is very dog friendly which makes sense as it is in the name of the brewery.  The patio on this day felt more like a dog park than a brewery patio.  I also love the tasting tray at this brewery as it is in the shape of a dog bone!  It is a very nice touch.  I just think that they should also have some done up as fire hydrants.

Once our time was up at Yellow Dog Brewing we piled back onto our bus to head to the next stop on our tour.  In reality we could have walked but it was probably easier to wrangle everyone up and make sure we all made it to Moody Ales down the street.

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Again we were asked to find ourselves seats in the brewery so that the samples could be brought to us.  This time the brewery was quite busy so we all split up into smaller groups.  My small group sat at the far end of the bar.  When we got out tasters we got a nice surprise in that we got a sample of their Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout.  Once our samples were consumed we were given a tour of the brewery that included a discussion of their brewing system.  It was also great to see the new tanks in place that were delivered only days before!

After our time at the brewery we left Port Moody and made our way to Burnaby to visit Dageraad Brewing.  Located in a Commercial Park this brewery is a little hidden.  Don’t let this stop you from coming in and checking out this awesome little brewery.

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Dageraad Brewing specializes in brewing Belgian style beer.  The tasting room here is tiny with a small bar and a beer fridge with bottles for sale.  They have also added a pick-nick table inside the front part of the brewery space to add capacity.  We were given 4 samples of great beer.

After a nice stop at Dageraad we were back on the road this time heading to New Westminster to check out Steel & Oak Brewing.

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With the tasting room hopping we were invited to step into the back to the brewery itself to enjoy our samples at get a little talk from on of the brewery staff.  Our makeshift table on the palate lifted by the forklift was great.  Like always I had a great time while at Steel & Oak Brewing.

Once finished up at the brewery we all headed back to the bus for our ride back to Canada Place.

I had a great time on the tour and it sounded like everyone else did also.  Like all tours if you purchased any beer on the tour they had a cooler with ice so you could keep your beer chilled for later.  So remember to bring your empty growlers with you!  I would really recommend this tour to people that don’t get around as much as I do be it not having a car or just wanting to sample more beer and not have to drive.  So keep your eyes peeled for the next tour.

Full sized photos can be found here.

Burnaby Tours & Charters
http://www.burnabytours.com/
604-422-8862
1(844)322-8862