Beer Musings by Jim Maletta from Cranbrook, BC

Just when you think all is lost someone comes in and saves the day. A plan was developed so a small group of friends could acquire the infamous Costco Advent Beer Calendar and enjoy a new unknown beer each day of Advent.

This year Costco Liquor Stores is not offering a calendar, poor form on their part (to say the least) and bad luck for us.
In steps AJ our intrepid purchaser of the Advent Calendars with Plan B.
  • Purchase 24 – 4 packs of tallboy cans from Craft Breweries for each of the four beer aficionados
A fabulous idea from AJ at the 13th hour to save Advent, the Calendar lives!
Late yesterday afternoon, Mike, AJ’s older brother fulfilled the role of Advent Calendar courier (The Advent Calendar’s had to get to Cranbrook from Calgary somehow). Mike retrieved a flat of tallboy cans from his trunk and brought it to the front door. Each beer was individually wrapped and numbered for each day of Advent. A stroke of genius by AJ, the delivery of the Plan B Calendar ignited the festive season and put a broad smile on our faces.

Well done, AJ and Mike.

Mark, AJ and Mike’s Dad was the financier behind the Advent Beer Calendars. Mark an old and close friend will drop by tomorrow to pick up the cash and perhaps enjoy a beer. Old friends and cold beer, I don’t think it gets better than that!

What follows is my Advent Beer Journal, Merry Christmas.

Day 2 - Second Summer Citra Pale Ale by Colorado Born Brewing, Calgary Alberta
Typically, one starts an Advent Beer Journal on Day 1. This year the Calendar started a day late so AJ numbered the beers 2 through 25 to achieve the 24 days of Advent. So here is the first offering:
  • IBU’s 17
  • ABV 5.9%
  • Colour, cloudy golden to amber
  • Aroma is citrus with a sturdy white head
Excellent Calendar opening beer, the IBU”s are a bit misleading as this beer is packed with citrus flavour with undertones of hop. As the can states this beer is a twist on an American Pale Ale (APA) and it hits the mark for that style of beer. Mike our beer mule dropped the Calendar off on December 3rd, so I had to have beer Day 2 and 3 on the same evening. I wanted a bit of time between beers so as not have the first beer impact the second beer. The Second Summer Citra Pale Ale flavour lingered for almost 15 minutes, which I thought was unique and enjoyable.

Food pairings for this beer would require something bold and unique. A suitable appetizer could be spiced candied pecans where the spicing includes chili powder for a punch of heat. This beer would be a welcome special occasion beer for my beer fridge.

Day 3 - Five of Diamonds Pilsner from Blindman Brewing, Lacombe Alberta
  • IBU’s 25
  • ABV 4.9%
  • Colour, cloudy light straw yellow
  • Aroma classic pilsner, full white head that dissipates quickly
The name of the beer, Five of Diamonds Pilsner is homage to a fishing lure developed by Len Thompson, a WW1 vet and avid outdoorsman. The beer is meant for enjoying in open spaces. The Five of Diamonds Pilsner has an initial classic pilsner flavour with a bitey, harsh finish. The IBU’s are on the high side for a pilsner so the finish is hoppier than a normal pilsner. Food pairings are pretty straightforward - a classic burger and fries suits this brew.

Potentially a session able beer but I would need to have a few to form a lasting opinion. Based on an undecided opinion I would put a six-pack in my beer fridge and research further.

Day 4 - Blonde Ale by Sea Change Brewing, Edmonton Alberta
  • IBU’s 11 (that is a guess, no information on this detail from the can or website)
  • ABV 5%
  • Colour, classic amber with some cloud
  • Aroma is subtle barley hop classic beer smell and a quick dissipating white head

The beer descriptors use classic twice. That is calculated as this beer has a classic smooth flavour and is exceptionally easy drinking. This is a very, very, very session able beer. Probably a good thing there was only one as I just finished shovelling snow. I would not hesitate to create a generous space in my beer fridge for the Blonde Ale, great any time of the year but summer is especially fitting for this beer.

Day 5 - Raspberry Vanilla Sour by Category 12 Brewing, Victoria BC
  • IBU’s 9
  • ABV 7.9%
  • Colour ruby red with a pinkish hue
  • Aroma is tart raspberry with a luscious pink head
Category 12 is no stranger to Advent Calendar experiences. The difference this time is the style of beer, a fruit sour in the Gose style of beers. My first impression of what was to come was this is way out there and it was in a terrific way. Gose beers are usually not worth a second one or memorable enough to buy more.

Category 12’s Raspberry Vanilla Sour is a memorable beer. Excellent tart raspberry flavour with a little something unique in the finish (assume that is the vanilla). Very enjoyable and the ABV is not noticeable through the fruit tartness, very nice.

This is not a session beer, it is a dessert or special occasion beer. Food pairing can go in many directions with this beer but I would stay on the uncomplicated side of things. The meal and beer should not compete against one another.

With that in mind, grilled bone-in skin-on chicken breast and vegetables such as peppers, asparagus and zucchini pair well with a vibrant sour as a finishing element for a solid, uncomplicated meal. I would reserve a space for the Category 12 Raspberry Vanilla Sour in the specialty area of my beer fridge.

Day 6 - Electric Boogaloo Hazy IPA, by Bent Stick Brewing Company, Edmonton Alberta
  • IBU’s unknown, estimated at 43
  • ABV 6.5%
  • Colour cloudy amber with a sturdy white head
  • Aroma is a distinct citrus hoppy smell associated with an IPA

Another Alberta beer, having read a book this summer by Scott Messenger, called Tapping the West, about the Alberta brewing industry. I have heard of a few of the Alberta Breweries in this year’s calendar, of which Bent Stick is one. The book is an excellent read if you like reading about the growth of the Alberta Craft Brewing industry. Scott’s research was exquisite but one would expect no less from someone researching craft beer.
IPA’s are not in my wheelhouse for preferred styles of beer. Even though this is a double dry hopped beer (which I assume means lots of hops) it was not over hopped for my liking. The Electric Boogaloo Hazy IPA has a big citrus aroma with the distinct fruity/citrus up front flavours of an IPA. The Electric Boogaloo takes hoppiness to the limit of acceptability for my palate, which made it an enjoyable beer.

The Electric Boogaloo was bitey to start but smoothed out with a long hoppy linger. The Electric Boogaloo would have a spot in my beer fridge from time to time and would definitely be present for a friend or family member coming by who is an IPA aficionados.

Day 7 - Discovery Raspberry Ale by Valley Brewing, Drumheller Alberta
  • IBU’s 20
  • ABV 4.8%
  • Colour Raspberry reddish pink with pinky/white head
  • Aroma fruit forward with a slight beer/hop essence

Just when you thought that there would only be one raspberry beer in the Calendar, life surprises you.

This is a full-on dessert beer, great flavour, easy drinking and enjoyable. It is not in the sour range but is also not overly sweet which is the direction some dessert beers migrate to. It would be very interesting to do a side-by-side taste test with the Day 5 Category 12 Raspberry Vanilla Sour. The Discovery Raspberry Ale would definitely hold its own in the Raspberry Beer Classification. So what can you pair with a dessert beer. Perhaps a dessert!

My wife baked sourdough lemon almond biscotti yesterday, which were delicious. I enjoyed a few biscotti post-lunch
pre-Calendar happy hour. The biscotti put my mind in a dessert mode for the rest of the day and the Valley Brewing Discovery Raspberry Ale fulfilled my desires at happy hour. Once again I would place some of these in my beer fridge for those dessert desires when they arise.

NB. Two desserts in one day, it was grand!