Help me give a big MerryAboutTown welcome to Amanda Kamps, our guest blogger for the day. Amanda is a 28-year-old craft beer lover born and raised in Lacombe County, Alberta. Her other interests involve eating, cooking, warm weather, and dogs. Personal goal to visit every brewery in Alberta. The neverending jouuuurneeeeeey! Today she is going to share her knowledge of the deliciousness that is craft beer with us.
Hello! My name is Amanda and I am your very special guest blogger today. I’ve been asked to write a little piece about one of my favourite things today… Craft beer! So, what makes craft beer different than the beers the boys have been drinking out back for the past century? Why is craft beer suddenly everywhere? Well crack a cold one and stick around to learn more!
Craft Beer Beginnings
Believe it or not, beer has been around for centuries. Ancient Egyptians have the first documented recipes on papyrus scrolls using dates, figs, pomegranates, and other indigenous herbs though it wasn’t until the middle ages that beer as we know it was first brewed. The ingredients have changed over time, with hops not being a major ingredient until the twelfth century! Women played a huge part in beer production since the beginning of brewing, as it was viewed as a domestic task. Remember that the next time someone tells you that your fruity beer is “girly!”
The industrial revolution paved the way to mass-produced beer, but thankfully the art of craft beer was not forgotten. Craft beer is truly an art, in my eyes. Many of the people working in the industry have so much passion for the process and craft. Most of them started with homebrewing and wanted to build on that hobby.
Craft Beer vs Mass-Produced Beer
You can really see the difference between craft beer done in smaller batches and mass-produced beer. Mass-produced beer is typically a pale, watery yellow with no real lasting head of foam. Craft beer comes in a variety of colours or clarities, depending on the brew, with a nice head which helps the flavours stay crisp with a taste that lasts.
A typical mass-produced beer has a monotonous flavour compared to craft brews, which focus on a specific flavour palate depending on the style they are going for. Mass-produced beer is usually done with cheaper ingredients to keep the final price down to appeal to buyers. For example, some large breweries will cut costs on using traditional barley in favour of the cheaper alternative of rice or corn. The big guys typically care about profit margins and costs, where the little guy wants to create something that you (and they!) will love. It all boils down to quality over quantity!
Craft Beer in Alberta
Now I have only been drinking craft beer for a few years, and I am by no means an expert. My passion for craft beer has grown exponentially in those years, along with the entire industry itself! According to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis (AGLC) agency, there were 10 craft breweries in Alberta in 2013. Today there are over 115, with 13 more recently receiving permits to operate, and more on the way!
Previously there were restrictions in place by the AGLC, which meant only the breweries that could meet a minimum production requirement could receive permits. Lifting those restrictions has opened the doors for more wonderful breweries and more great beers being available to us Albertans!
Finding the Right Beer for You
I will admit that when beer was just beer, I didn’t really like it. I didn’t enjoy beer because all I knew was the bland, watered-down mass production beer. It was probably five or six years ago when I first tasted Alley Kat’s apricot wheat ale, Aprikat, that my eyes were opened to a whole new hoppy world. It was love at first sip and what opened the doors to becoming a total craft beer junkie. Initially, I stuck to the fruit beers that others deemed “girly beers,” but I can confidently say it all has a place after sampling the delights of many different brews.
I implore you to go out and sample as many different craft beers as you can, especially at one of the many special beer events and festivals happening! There are so many wonderful local options across the country, and you can only find your favourite by sipping around. Cheers!
Stay tuned for more beer tales from Amanda in the future! She’s even willing to take on for the MerryAboutTown team and visit different breweries to tell us what to expect. What a gal!