TOUR: Wild Rose Brewery
Their expansive production facility in the SE industrial looks a little boring from the outside but you’ll find it’s anything but when you enter the realm of Wildrose beer.
By The Beer Maven Sondra Baker on Oct. 12, 2016
Brian Smith, the Director of Brewing Operations, greeted me at reception and guided me through the Wild Rose brewing process from start to finish. He delightfully brought me back to the staff keg and tap system first. Snuck in the back staff area the tap system had one off brews, collab test brews and sampling beers already in production. Of course being the curious girl I am I had to try a little of everything.
One of their brewers Tomo hails from Japan and made a small batch of a specialty saison with Yuzu fruit and Sansho pepper from his hometown. The flavours were sweetly unique and married extremely well together. I would love to see this go into a limited edition batch and bottled in bombers.
The Sour Nelson Brian and I sampled is currently on store shelves and is part of their Barrel Aged Series, it combines their much loved Cowbell Sour and Hef Nelson hefeweizen. It is then aged in wine barrels. The delightful aroma and flavour of white wine make this brew exceptional. I won’t say much about the Ribstone collab I tried, as it is a work in progress and I don’t want to be a spoil sport, but the deep amber color was stunning.
With a glass of stout in my hand, Brian guided me through the brewing process and we enjoyed being the only ones on the brewing floor as it was a rare non operational day. I was able to climb to the top of the brewing station, ask all my beer geek questions (I finally learned the difference between wet and dry hopping) and felt fully immersed in the Wild Rose experience. The Brewers are creating 60 hectalitre batches at a time and the bottling team is pumping out 130 bottles a minute with the ability to increase those numbers if and when needed.
I had to ask about my favorite Cherry Porter that was part of my Beermas countdown last year (and will be this year). Brian poured me a sneak peek of the brewing cherry which was currently in the fermenting stage. Carrying the heavy yeast aroma and pour which is distinctive to this part of the process. The color was beginning to turn that lively deep red hue already. For all you Cherry Porter lovers like myself this will be ready the first week of November.
The last part of my adventure (besides picking beer from their dreamy beer cooler) was entering their mad lab where all their quality control testing is performed. It was a scene in between a breaking bad set and my high school science lab. The tested batches were neatly organized and labeled, the clean petri dishes and microscopes were placed on the tables ready to go. You could tell that they take this part of the business seriously and so should every Brewery.
Brian sent me out the door with a variety of beers to sample and I promised to be back in November for my Cherry Porter! The public is welcome to tour the facility (after arranging for a viewing). I recommend paying a visit to an important part of our Albertan brewing heritage. And say hi to Brian for me when you go 🙂
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