Common Crown Brewery Tour
A Brew for the Common Folk. #besocial #drinklocal #commoners
By Tracy-Lynne MacLellan on Mar. 02, 2018
When I walked into Common Crown Brewing Co I was met with an inviting, minimalist room about 1/3 filled with friendly people. I had never been there before, but instantly felt like this could be my local watering hole. Mike was behind the bar, waiting to greet me with kindness and quick service. It’s important to note that the building was easy to find with great outdoor signage, plenty of parking and wheelchair accessibility. The warehouse in the back has a giant mural on on wall created by local artist, Jessie Sinclair. It really is a sight to see in person. I ordered the Brewmaster Blonde Ale from Mike and sat down in the tap room to enjoy my first Common Crown beer. 4.5% abv. 20 IBU. It was dangerously tasty.
I was there as part of Brew Ed with David Nuttall, Judging Coordinator for Alberta Beer Festivals. He teaches this 4-week course every month with three instructional classes at The Brewer’s Apprentice with the last “class” being a local brewery tour. I had been meaning to check out Common Crown so I was happy to hear that’s where we were going.
The Common Crown brothers have their roots in home brewing. First with U-Brew in Vancouver, then extract brewing in the 1990s and eventually all grain brewing in the garage. They found that their buddies were all coming over on Sundays to try the latest brew and thought maybe there was something to this. That thought didn’t stick right away. Then one day, Damon stood in his garage sipping a beer he had made, pondering his life and career. He thought to himself, “If only there was something I was passionate about…” Pause. He takes a sip. “….something I was good at…” He takes another sip of his beer. “something that I could do for a living..” His Aha Moment. Their motto #besocial comes straight from those garage gatherings. In a world of social media that isn’t always very social, Common Crown wants you to get out and enjoy their beer with friends.
It took longer to name the brewery than to learn how to brew. There were about 276 names before coming up with “Black Cap Brewing.” Unfortunately, every time they said the name out loud to someone, the feedback wasn’t great. “You don’t even like cats,” was a common response. Black Cap turned into Common Crown after an article in the New York Times explaining the common man’s crown – a baseball cap. Damon says it doesn’t matter if you wear a baseball cap, a turban, a hard hat – whatever it is, it’s your crown. Not wanting to be too cliché, a crown wasn’t the first choice for a logo design, but if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s actually the top third of the Maple Leaf. Being Alberta born and raised, the fiercely patriotic brothers decided that was the perfect logo for Common Crown Brewing Co. After all, their other motto is #drinklocal.
Common Crown has come so far in a such a short amount of time. Their first beer was found on retail shelves in October of 2016. After only four months they couldn’t keep up with the demand so they bought more equipment and increased production. At six months they were still selling out and causing quite an upset with loyal customers because of stock issues. Yes, it’s a good problem to have, but it was still a problem. So their 18 month plan was executed at the six month point and two months ago they purchased a new canner that does the job in a third of the time canning used to take. They’ve now got 64 taps in bars around the province and they’ll soon need to hire more sales reps to meet the needs of their restaurant and retail partners. At a time when the economy isn’t at it’s best, Common Crown is a great Alberta success story.
Back in the tap room I ordered an impressive 3 flight sample.
Ploughman Hopped Wheat Ale. 5% abv. 28 IBU.
Coppersmith Brown Ale. 4.9% abv. 26 IBU.
Rouster Stout. 6.0% abv. 37 IBU
It was hard to pick a favourite that evening because each style so different and exceeded my expectations. The Ploughman hopped wheat ale was a pleasant surprise. They use Citra and Mosaic hops which makes it well-balanced with just a hint of tropical fruit sweetness to it. If you’re looking for refreshing, this is it. The Coppersmith English brown ale is true to style with a beautiful caramel, malty, nutty, toasted character. I paired it with BBQ pulled pork and it was perfect. The Rouster stout had just the right amount of espresso bitterness balanced with dark chocolate notes. I had a tasty little pecan butter tart with it which was off the charts delicious!
You must be wondering what’s on the horizon for Common Crown. Well, I asked them for you. I was told there will be another collaborative effort with Trolley 5 coming out in about a month. You’ll want to keep your eyes out for “The Joker” Milkshake IPA. You won’t find it in stores though; it will only be available at the Common Crown and Trolley 5 tap rooms and naturally only for a limited time. Their Hefeweisen is coming back better than ever and there are plans for an ESB, a Märzen and a Pilsner. There is no doubt in my mind that whatever they create will do well. After all, they’re doing it all for the love of great beer and of course, for their #Commoners.
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