Commentary – Those crafty brewers

Joe McWilliams

I was interested to see an ad in the paper showing a craft brewer. It was ATB, featuring one of its customers – a guy named Hans, of Blindman Brewing of Lacombe Alberta.
“Aha!” I thought. “I know Blindman!”
I knew it because just a few days earlier, a can of beer from that company had exploded in our kitchen, soaking the walls, ceiling, floor and whatever else was there with fragrant suds [including my wife]. I thought it was funny; she didn’t, but that’s another story.
The cans had been sitting in our pantry for about seven months, more or less forgotten about. They should have been refrigerated; it says so right on them. So they had continued fermenting – if that’s the term – and were bulging like little bombs by the time we discovered them. This followed mysterious popping sounds coming from in there, off and on.
It took a while to figure out, but eventually the bulging cans were noticed and the penny dropped. It was one of those cans, taken into the kitchen for closer inspection, that cut loose. Perhaps all it needed was that little bit of agitation.
The arrival of craft beer, as many of you know, has changed the way a lot of us look at ye olde suds. It turns out it can be interesting and tasty stuff. For years – decades – beer was all the same swill, pretty much. You either liked it [or pretended to], or hated it. I tried hard to develop a taste for it, I really did. But I gave up after a few years, way back when, and it was actually a relief. I didn’t touch a drop of the stuff for over 20 years and I did not ever feel I was missing anything.
Then came the craft beer explosion in Alberta, and everything changed.
For one thing, local hobbyists were turning out some really fine stuff. Who knew you could do that? Presumably, the big producers did, but since they had the market all wrapped up for all those years, why bother.
They are bothering now. Oh boy, are they ever!
Speaking of craft suds, thanks to the Government of Alberta, a few provincial parks where it was banned for a few years will again allow the drinking of said beverages. Hopefully, campers will do it more responsibly than some did in years past, which provoked the ban in the first place.
Perhaps with better beer available, campers will be less inclined to drinking to get drunk and spend more time savouring the experience. This would go well with another change – that being refinements in campfire dining.
Once upon a time this ran the gamut from hotdogs to hamburgers, with condiments extending from bland ketchup to blander mustard to boring relish. Now you’re just as likely to see smokies alongside veggie burgers, hummus and chips on the side, garlic this and guacamole that. Not to mention salads with a mouth-watering dressing made [very simply and easily, by the way] with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard.
So. . .cheers to the craft brewers. Their stuff tends to be pricy, but it tastes good, it is local and so the money stays closer to home.
What’s not to like?

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