In Sippin’ Country

Road trip! Visit the breweries, distilleries and fruit wineries east of Edmonton.

Mary Bailey

Lakeland Brewing Company
4227 50 Avenue, St. Paul, 780-614-9466, http://lakelandbrewing.wixsite.com/beer
Open Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 4pm-9pm, Friday 4-11pm

Lakeland Brewing growlers

Lakeland Brewing growlers

Colin Porozni spent 25 years as a pharmacist before deciding to open a brewery in St. Paul in July 2016. “It was supposed to be part time hobby,” he says. It’s an accommodating place; growlers can be filled whenever the lights are on (“when I was a pharmacist I filled prescriptions after hours”). They offer tours whenever anybody asks. Hungry? Order from the pizza place on one side or the Greek restaurant on the other and have it delivered to you in the taproom. “We have a sign that says: we gladly encourage you to bring outside food in.”

The brewery has six taps including two for rotating seasonal beers, with of course, a lager for the summer.

Barr Estate Winery
51526 Range Rd 231, Sherwood Park, 780-819-9463, barr.ca
Tours available Wednesday to Sunday at noon, 2pm., 4pm and 6pm

Their first vintage was 2009 but Rick and Amy Barr have been making fruit wine for decades. The experience shows. The Barb (rhubarb) and the Other Red (raspberry) are well-made examples of the craft. They will introduce two new fruit wines later this year. “We’re really happy to be bringing two new wines to the market,” says Rick, “and we are very excited about what’s happening with distilleries and breweries in Alberta. But, one thing you have to remember; we are land-based. We have to grow all the fruit we use for our product. If I want to make more raspberry wine I have to plant more raspberries and wait for the bushes to mature. We are lobbying the government to allow fruit wineries to buy fruit from other Alberta farmers.”

Two Sergeants Brewery and Taphouse
#501, 10470 98 Avenue, Fort Saskatchewan, 780-974-1762, twosergeantsbrewing.ca
Open Wednesday and Thursday 4pm-8pm; Friday and Saturday 4pm-9pm

A full house at Two Sergeants in Fort Saskatchewan

A full house at Two Sergeants in Fort Saskatchewan

“We started as a contract brewery and opened in December 2015,” says co-owner and brewer Kevin Moore. “We are a brewery and tap house with live music and we are the only growler bar in Fort Saskatchewan.”

The Taphouse sports 12 taps, which include a rotating selection of Alberta craft beers. Come hungry. Two Sergeants serves wild game smokies, sausage and chile. “We send our spent grain to the Redwater River Ranch and they send us elk and bison meats,” says Kevin. Also on offer are charcuterie plates and deliciously crispy house-made kettle chips.

Back 40 Distillery
4701-36 Street, Camrose, 780-983-5167, back40distillery.com
Open Friday and Saturday, 10am-7pm, tours by appointment

Lorne Haugen and Rick Lazaruik have farming backgrounds, are both from Tofield and were determined to have a distilling business. They distill using Taber sugar, not wheat. Why gluten free?

“My oldest daughter is celiac,” says Lorne, “not that she drinks, but I was curious about making something for a specialty market.”

Their products defy easy categorization. The Wintertime Frost spirit, for example, is vodka by any other name. “In order to be called vodka in Alberta it has to be made with grain or potatoes. We use neither.” Or the Ol’ Apple Betty, which is juice from crushed apples with their distilled spirit, creating a drink that is lower in alcohol (21 per cent) and tastes just like apple pie. You can have a drink at Back 40 but for lunch Lorne recommends Stockmen’s Chophouse.

Norsemen Brewing, in the Norsemen Inn Hotel
6505 48 Avenue, Camrose, 780-672-9171, norsemenbrewing.com
Taproom open daily, tours by appointment.

Enjoy a glass of unfiltered, unpasteurized and preservative free ale, stout, IPA or seasonal offering in the Taproom next to the brewery. The brewmaster is Camrose native Ryan Stang.

Red Cup Distillery
5341 50 Avenue, Vegreville, 780-603-3040, www.redcupdistillery.ca/
Open 1pm-5pm Saturdays, tours by appointment

Barb and Rob De Groot, owners of Red Cup, do everything old school. They start with floor-malted hard red wheat sourced from nearby farmers, use open fermenters and distill in a small copper pot vessel, then bottle the spirit unaged and call it shine in a nod to Depression era farmers. Check it out!

Ribstone Creek Brewery
4924 51 Street, Edgerton, 780-755-3008, ribstonecreekbrewery.ca
Open 2pm-5pm Friday and Saturday 1pm-4pm, tours by appointment.

Brewmaster Aaron Hogarth at Edgerton’s Ribstone Creek Brewery

Brewmaster Aaron Hogarth at Edgerton’s Ribstone Creek Brewery
Mary Bailey photo

What started as a community-minded downtown renewal project by several Edgerton residents now keeps their community in some great beer. The founders purchased a historical building (a former tractor dealership) on the main street in Edgerton and began full-scale beer production in 2012. Now, they may sell Ribstone across the province but the brewery remains happily rooted in small town Alberta. This spring Ribstone asked for volunteer rhubarb so they could make a rhubarb saison. How Alberta is that? While you are waiting for the rhubarb saison, try the Great White Combine, a hoppy wheat ale named after what prairie farmers call a crop-destroying hail storm.

Check out the Sippn’ Alberta Craft Beverage Trail. Download at albertaculinary.com or pick up at any Travel Alberta Travel Information Centre.

Mary Bailey is the editor of the Tomato.