Friday afternoon after work I found out I'd won tickets to go to the Calgary International Beer Fest that night. I was pretty stoked. I've been to the last two ones and had a lot of fun. I started madly texting friends to try to find someone to go with me. Unfortunately everyone already had plans since it was such short notice, so I decided to go on my own.
Once you get inside Beer Fest you're given a 4 ounce mini stein. This year it was glass, which is an upgrade from the last two times I've gone when it was plastic. To sample beers you need to buy tokens. They were $1 each and all the beers I tried were either 2 or 3 tokens. There were also lots of restaurants and pubs offering food.
The first beer I tried as I walked into the first hall was the Fruh Radler. It was a great choice because I instantly liked it. There was enough beer flavor to give it some depth as well as lots of grapefruit to give it some lightness at the same time.
My next selection was Lazy Mutt Ginger Beer. I've tried a sip or two of ginger beers before, but while they're not horrible, they're also not my favorite kind of beer. I thought I'd give this one a try as it's made in Calgary and I hadn't tried it before. It still wasn't my favorite.
I decided to try Alley Kat's Main Squeeze because instead of being a radler, it's actually a grapefruit ale. The Alley Kat brewery is in Edmonton, but I think this is the first Alley Kat beer I've tried, despite it being so close. I'll be on the look out for this one the next time I'm getting something to eat out on a patio.
Although I've had Somersby Ciders before, I figured I'd give get a sample of it anyways. I think I actually discovered it at Beer Fest a year ago. I went for the straight up apple flavor, but they also have pear and blackberry ones as well.
One of the things I really like about Beer Fest is that if it's not too busy you get to talk to the reps and find out a little more about the beers. The Strongbow rep was pretty chatty and he ended up letting my try both their regular cider as well as the elderflower flavor for the price of one. Just as the color indicates, they each tasted pretty different.
The next booth I stopped at was the Sonoma Cider one where I tried some bourbon cider. Apparently I had tried this one already on a date, but I didn't realize it. Unfortunately I didn't like it as much this time as last time. I think I'd have it again when I wanted a change from what I usually drink.
Lonetree Ginger Cider was the next sample I tried. The rep said that it was their newest offering, so I thought I'd give it a try even though I didn't like the ginger beer earlier. I found the ginger flavor wasn't as intense and overpowering, so more of the apple flavor came through.
My next choice was the Schofferhofer Radler. It was probably one of my favorites that I tried at Beer Fest. It was sweet, and therefore almost didn't even taste like beer, although the low alcohol content contributed to that as well. It's definitely a hot summer day hanging out in the backyard beer. I'll be looking for this in liquor stores this summer.
There's a few pubs in Calgary who have their own line of beers called Gas Lamp. I've only tried one or two, but when I walked past their booth and noticed that they had an apple ale I knew I wanted to get a sample. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised and really liked it. The next time I go back to one of those pubs I'm going to be ordering this one again.
My second to last sample was the Waterloo Brewing Lemonade Radler. As soon as the rep told me they had lemonade I knew I was going to like it. This one was also another favorite from all the ones I tried. The only problem is that I could see myself drinking way too many of these, they're that good.
As I was on my way out I walked by another apple cider booth that I had somehow missed earlier. I stopped to get one more sample of Pommies Apple Cider. It was another great one. This cider was more on the dry side and not too sweet. When I went back to the booth and asked the rep where to find it in Calgary, she was pretty excited that I liked it so much.
In addition to all the beer vendors, there were also lots of options to get home safely. When they gave you came in and got a stein right at the beginning, the stein came with a business card of a company that would drive you home in your car. There were also lots of other resources and cab company info all over the place. I'm glad to see that they were looking out for people to get them home safely after enjoying so much beer. Luckily I didn't have to worry about driving because I took transit.
Have you ever been to a beer fest? What's the last new to you beer you discovered?