With the move from Halifax to Saskatoon and all that entailed, this has been a year of shorter trips and vacations. One of those was a July road trip to Edmonton to see the Tragically Hip play on their last tour. Like all my trips this year, and owing to Saskatchewan’s limited selection of craft beer, I managed to find a way to sneak in some sampling and tastings over a couple of days in Edmonton.
On the afternoon before the Hip show, I noticed an interesting beer and wine store in the downtown and grabbed these two to put on ice back at the hotel. The Blindman Session ale was very tasty post-concert. I should have been smarter and grabbed more to bring back home.
A key to cramming in as many beer samples as possible when traveling with my wife is to find a bar that has a solid selection of gluten-free food to go with their gluten-to-the-hilt exceptional beer selection. Not always an easy task. But a fifteen minute walk from our Edmonton hotel, the Underground Tap and Grill fit the bill. The bar had a unique approach to samples available – 1oz pours in shot glasses – all the better to try lots and lots of Alberta microbrews. Left to right: A black current gose by Tool Shed, then the Red Rage also by Tool Shed, Black Lager by Yellowhead and finally the Great White Combine white IPA by Ribstone Creek Brewery. That last one was my favourite of this group – just the right amount of pine.
For my next round, I stepped up to the 4oz samples. They were out of a few things, so as I selected my samples from the menu, I lost track of what I was ordering. This might be the most homogeneous looking sampler I’ve ever ordered. The Main Squeeze Graprefruit Ale by Alley Kat (far left) and the Bright Young Things pale ale (second from the right) by the Dandy Brewing Company were my favourites. The grapefruit ale was a real surprise for me – I could put back a number of those on a summer patio.
This visit wasn’t just about the beer; it was also about a great selection of gluten free bar snacks. On the left, blackened sirloin tips with a chipotle sauce were out of this world delicious. Unfortunately, this was the last order the kitchen was able to put together on the night. One bite into this, and my wife and I would have ordered a bucket of these to the exclusion of everything else.
While my wife continued to enjoy the salt and pepper wings, I ordered another beer – the Little Sure Shot by Olds College Brewery – a unique saison/farmhouse ale with a lot of bubblegum flavour. I also couldn’t resist ordering the (non gluten free) mac and cheese balls. Those were delicious, and better yet, I had them all to myself!
With less than two days in Edmonton, I got to try a good handful of Alberta beers to hold me over until I could do some more beer exploring on my next trip. There’s lots more for me to try the next time I get back!