It’s amber, it’s zesty and it’s a mouthful to say: it’s the newest beer from Olds College Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program, Irish Wristwatch.
Irish Wristwatch is a ginger beer produced in collaboration with Alberta Beer Festivals. The name and style of the beer were the result of a social media campaign. The new easy-drinking ale had plenty of interest at last weekend’s Calgary International Beerfest at the BMO Centre.
“It’s actually based on an American blonde ale backbone,” said Jordan Ramey, instructor in the Olds College Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program. “So we’re thinking patio, little zip of ginger gets you in the mood for summer. We’re coming into May, the clouds are breaking and everyone wants to get outside, so it’s the perfect beer for that kind of weather.”
The Calgary International Beerfest is the biggest of its kind in Western Canada, with more than 500 beers available for patrons to sample. Olds College had one of three Central Albertan booths at the festival, with Something Brewing and Red Deer Brewers also serving up brews.
There were many Olds College students working at the festival, as well as graduates of the program working at both new and established breweries. Among the students working at Olds College’s booth on Saturday was Tyler Rose, who along with fellow brewmaster student Peter Schill created Alberta Craft Malting — this year’s winners of the RED Challenge innovative business competition and the TEC VenturePrize Student Business Plan Competition.
Ramey said as craft beer continues to become more popular, entry into the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program gets more competitive.
“Right now we essentially have more students apply for the program every year than we know what to do with,” said Ramey. “So we have a competitive application process. We are really looking for students with a passion for the industry and something that shows that they’ll do well in the industry.
“That can be bartending experience, that can be homebrewing experience, that can be chemistry experience, that can really be anything that says you can come into the program, you love beer and you want to make this a livelihood for you.”
For those who didn’t get to taste Irish Wristwatch last weekend in Calgary, the beer is available at Olds College, and it’s on tap at Beer Revolution (Edmonton) and CRAFT Beer Market (Calgary).
You can also try it out at the Edmonton Craft Beer Festival next month.
Drummond Brewing’s craft arm Something Brewing was also on hand last weekend in Calgary, serving up their three selections: Gimmee That Nutt Brown Ale, Hopbomb IPA and Dark Side Schwarzbier. Co-owner and brewer Kevin Wood said Something Brewing will have some new options available soon, including a Belgian white style called White Wit that should be available “in about five weeks.”
“It took us a while to get craft beer out in Red Deer and it’s just starting to grow,” said Wood. “ We’ve rolled out these three and we’ve got a Belgian Wit coming out right away and a lot more on the craft beer side of things.”
Those three beers are available in cans at three liquor stores in Red Deer, about 180 provincewide and the Drummond brewery at 6610 71th St. in Red Deer. And Wood said they’ll have growlers available at the brewery in roughly two months.
Wood said Something Brewing will also have an Oktoberfest beer available in the fall.
Red Deer Brewers
Just a few steps away from Olds College’s booth were the Red Deer Brewers, who were sponsored by the soon-opening Red Deer microbrewery Troubled Monk.
The homebrewing club were serving up an extra special bitter, which is an English-style pale ale made by Tool Shed Brewing Company out of Calgary.
Doug Ellertson with Red Deer Brewers said that the group has been growing steadily on Facebook and they now have more than 50 members on their page.
“We want to promote homebrewing, get to more of a scale where we can have our competition in Red Deer and just get more members,” said Ellertson.
“We’re just here to promote homebrewing and beer in general.”
Anyone interested in the group can look up Red Deer Brewers on facebook.