What’s Wild at Wild Rose Brewery
With the motto “Stay Wild,” Calgary’s Wild Rose Brewery has been doing some pretty wild and amazing things. Like the return of seasonal brew Ponderosa Gose, the use of Hemp in a new core beer and a Collaboration Sour nearly ready for release. There’s plenty brewing at Wild Rose!
By Tracy-Lynne MacLellan on May. 17, 2018
Wild Rose Brewing seems to have nailed a few things down over the past few years. I spoke with Trevor Prior at Top Drop Calgary Terroir + Craft at Rodney’s Oyster House on May 15, 2018 about what’s going on over there at the Calgary Currie Barracks and the Brewery in the SE industrial area.
A Craft Beer for Everyone
Trevor Prior has been with Wild Rose Brewery for about seven years and has seen a lot of change during that time. For one, the creation of Electric Avenue Golden Lager. He was a die-hard Bud drinker (not that there’s anything wrong with that) who moved from selling Big Beer to a sales position at a local craft brewery. His biggest hurdle wasn’t necessarily selling Calgarians on craft beer. At that time, a lot of people were already drinking the Kool-aid, so to speak. His challenge was “what am I suppose to bring to my hockey team?” After years of working for Labatts, Trevor had been bringing all the usual suspects to to the team, so the boys were used to kicking back after practice with a cold one. With his new position at Wild Rose, throwing the goalie a Belgian IPA or a Fruit Beer just wasn’t going to cut it. After a couple of years of whining (his word), he can now bring Electric Ave to his hockey buddies.
Here’s the idea behind the Electric Avenue. Big Beer has the majority chunk of the market. There’s a good chance they always will. Craft brewers are putting a dent in those profits, and maybe Big Beer is feeling a bit of a pinch, but microbrews are not certainly not putting them out of business any time soon, if ever. It’s nice to think that every craft brewery will always do weird and wonderful brews and only make what they’re truly passionate about without ever pandering to consumers. That’s not reality. Products pay the bills and if your product doesn’t sell, your lights get turned off. Guess what? You can also be passionate about making something that people just really like to drink. Not every beer has to make you want to write poetry or contemplate your life. Some beer just makes you want to crush it and grab another. Electric Avenue is that beer. It’s also a gateway beer into the craft scene.
Converting the Average Beer Drinker from Big Beer to Craft Beer
Here’s a great example of getting people to craft beer with Electric Avenue. Fergus & Bix Restaurant and Beer Market serves two house beers: Wooden Ship Blonde and Springbank Amber. Both are made by Wild Rose Brewery (The Electric Avenue and the Wred Wheat). Bix has about 20 craft beers on tap, and they don’t serve any “mainstream” draught. No Coors Light, no Stella, no Guiness. Those beers, although well made, are just not part of their concept. They drop the price of the house beers during Happy Hour, but that’s not why they sell so well. The Wooden Ship sells because the average person sitting at the wood crushing a cold one at the end of their long day is looking for Bud or Coors or Pil or Kokanee or or….. Not some funky, delicious Porter or an IPA with lethal level IBUs or even a super tasty, malty beer with Vanilla added that tastes like white cake (one of my personal faves). “Average Jo(sephine)” wants cold, crisp, refreshing, goes-down-easy, golden lager. Mmm-mmm. A place like Fergus & Bix, and others, can offer exactly that without compromising their brand. So instead of that person having a bottle of Canadian, the bartender gently nudges them to give this local craft lager a try – and they’re hooked! Then after a while maybe they try a smooth tasting Blonde Ale, then a Canadian Pale Ale, then wouldn’t you know it, they’re drinking Ambers! What the…? Thanks, Wild Rose, you get a toaster oven for yet another convert to craft!
Farmhouse White Redux Barrel Aged Brew
If you say that right, it rhymes! (“ree-doo” – brew). The Farmhouse White Redux is the latest barrel aged beer to come out of the AF23 Barracks. This Belgain style beer has spent over a year aging in French oak Chardonnay barrels, along with peaches and two specifically selected strains of Brettanomyces yeast. In Belgain tradition, it has been blended with a small amount of fresh beer to achieve the desired fruit flavour and aroma profile. Available in the Barracks taproom and in very limited quantities at a few select boutique retailers.
Hoodwink To Be Released May 17, 2018
The spirit of collaboration is strong in Alberta. When one brewery succeeds, the entire industry thrives. Wild Rose has made a collaboration brew with their friends at Trolley 5 to be released right away. It’s Hoodwink Sour Cherry Wit and you want it. Don’t hesitate, just try it. Sours are big in Canada right now, which may surprise our neighbours to the south because American craft beer drinkers got on board the Sour Train a couple of years ago. So what if it took us a little longer? We’re there now and we love it. The Hoodwink Sour Cherry Wit will only be available on tap at Trolley 5 Restaurant & Brewery and at the Wild Rose AF23 Barracks. There’s a small possibility you can get a growler fill at your favourite boutique store, but I wouldn’t count on it. Trevor wasn’t even sure that would be a thing. So get your butt into Trolley 5 or the Wild Rose taproom to give it a go.
Ponderosa Gose is Back for Another Season
We’ve had great news this Spring. After a lot of public outcry over the cancelation of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, it’s back for one more season. The same thing happened with the Wild Rose Ponderosa Gose. It was released last spring as a seasonal with no intention of ever bringing it back, but you spoke and Wild Rose listened. If you’re new to sour beer and you’re not quite sure if you like them, this Gose (pronounced “goes-uh”) is a solid introduction to sours that’s easy enough on the palate for a beginner but definitely true to style for the beer snob. More importantly, this is your 2018 patio pounder. If you’re not cracking open a can of Ponderosa Gose on the deck while you BBQ burgers, you’re not doing summer right. Don’t be like that. Just get yourself a 4 pack and get ‘er done!
The Beer Blend Trend is Here to Stay
Beer combos are big, but they’re not just a passing phase and they’re certainly not new. A few favourite combos you probably recognize are the Black & Tan, a Snakebite or maybe a Crown Float. Well, Wild Rose Brewery has their own special beer combinations and I have first-hand info on how it all began. About 15 years ago I worked for Original Joe’s when it was owned and operated by the Shipley Brothers. Scott and Todd wanted to support local craft beer long before it was a popular thing to do. You could argue that back then Scott and Todd Shipley paved the way for places like Craft Beer Market and National. Incidentally, they were named Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 in 2001, the same year as Jim Button. Back then, we were the first to carry Wild Rose beer on tap and it was the OJ’s bartenders that created two of the most famous local beer blends to this day: The Pink Velvet and the Brown Berry. Even before they were served up in the Wild Rose taproom, OJ’s Marda Loop was mixing Velvet Fog with Wraspberry (Pink Velvet) and WR Brown with Wraz (Brown Berry). Side note: we also mixed AlleyKat Aprikat with Rock Creek Cider for a Yummy Mummy. Now you can try these two famous blends and more at Wild Rose AF23 Barracks, including the Weekend At Bernie’s by mixing High Harvest with Ponderosa Gose. But wait, there’s more! Pick up a Mixed Case of Fog and Wraz to make your own Pink Velvets at home for another tasty summer crusher.
Hemp – not Cannabis – in the High Harvest SPA
The High Harvest SPA is now a core brand at Wild Rose Brewery. This unfiltered, strong pale ale uses hemp flour in the recipe along with the hops and malt. It won’t get you high, but it is 6.5% abv so watch out for that fuzzy feeling! It’s surprisingly thirst quenching but certainly not simple. Complex flavours and hops that sit at about 50 IBU, balanced with sweet malt and tropical hops. Oh, and the goat on the bottle? That’s Budd, of course.
What’s Next for Wild Rose Brewery?
Don’t worry, the limited release Cherry Porter will be back for Winter 2018. It just doesn’t feel like the holidays until 1. I have my first sip of Wild Rose Cherry Porter and 2. I hear Blue Christmas by Elvis. That’s a fact. Besides wanting it back for selfish reasons, it’s also in the book 1001 Beers To Try Before You Die. If you haven’t tried it yet, make sure you do this winter.
I’ve been told the 2019 Seasonal is already in the works, but I can’t tell you what it is. I can’t tell you because Trevor wouldn’t tell me (pfffft), but I’m sure it’ll be sensational whatever it is.
Thirsty for more brews news from Mobility Quotient‘s Tracy-Lynne Maclellan?
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