People often cite beer and hockey as twin pillars of Canadiana – and, while I don’t disagree, I will argue that the Grey Cup deserves a spot right up there with them in the pantheon of hoser culture.
Every year, hardcore fans from around the country travel to the Grey Cup host city for the weeklong party leading up to the championship. On game day Sunday, millions more host Grey Cup parties in their homes and watch with friends.
This year, it’s Edmonton’s turn to host the 106th Grey Cup. And, wherever fans get together, there’s a good chance there will be beer. Whether you’re hosting friends from across the country or across the street, here’s a locally focused lineup of crowd-pleasing beers for your Grey Cup gathering.
Fan Favourite: Yellowhead Lager
I often recommend this beer as an approachable, locally crafted alternative to the mass-produced fizzy yellow stuff. It’s a little less sweet since the brewery tweaked the recipe in August, but still easy-drinking with a pleasant bready malt profile, slightly spicy hops and a crisp finish.
Local Legend: Alley Kat Full Moon Pale Ale
This is Edmonton’s quintessential craft beer, dating back to Alley Kat’s beginnings in the 1990s. It’s as solid as ever today. While its citric hop traits may take a non-craft drinker aback at first, it’s nicely balanced by the malt. Full Moon is hop-forward, but it’s not a hop bomb.
Red Zone Performers
If you’re firing up the barbecue, the caramel malts in many amber beers make them great pairings with grilled meats. Many people think dark beers are heavier, but they’re not: The darker colour simply means the grains have been roasted longer. For people afraid of the dark, I often recommend Creemore Springs Premium Lager. Although it’s not a local choice, its mild caramel sweetness makes it an approachable introduction to the darker side. At the other end, Red Rage from Tool Shed Brewing in Calgary is more robust, with notes of coffee and chocolate. Forged Rye Amber from Edmonton’s Town Square Brewing fits neatly in the middle of the other two beers. The rye adds a tinge of spice to the beer’s mild sweetness and subtle dark chocolate.
There are situations when hoppy and bitter beers like India Pale Ales are the right call – and the big game is one of them. IPAs and salty, spicy snacks like wings and nachos complement each other. Boldly flavoured snacks can stand up to an IPA’s assertive hops, while the beer’s bitterness can help cleanse the palate and snuff out the heat. Banded Peak Brewing Co.’s Southern Aspect, Bench Creek’s White Raven and Dog Island Brewing’s Saints and Sinners are my current favourites among the citric and piney West Coast-style IPAs made in Alberta.
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This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton.