New Beers Resolutions

Please, no tears in your beer for the year that’s done. Raise high your pint and drink to the year to come. Let us resolve to fill this year with good beer, for life is too short to drink bad beer.

Drink local. There are many good reasons to buy local beer, but the best reason is that world-class beer is made here at home. Using quality local ingredients like North Saskatchewan River water and Alberta grains, Edmonton beer is an expression of who we are: friendly, humble and prone to freezing if left in the cold.

Take the next step and support a local establishment that supports local beer. If your favourite place doesn’t carry local beer, ask them why not. Visit a local brewery and get to know the people behind your beer. How great is it that you can pop into Alley Kat Brewing and have a good chance of talking beer with owner Neil Herbst?

Or, go hyper-local and home brew. The best beer is the beer you brew yourself and January is the perfect time to start homebrewing. Local brew shops can set you up for under $100, and in no time you will be talking carboys and wort chillers.

Drink global. Didn’t I just say drink local? Sure, drink local — just someone else’s local beer! Made mostly of water, beer is a fluid expression of place, an inexpensive trip to an exotic locale. I hear the waves on Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach when I drink a Dogfish Head ale. Your liquor store’s beer cooler is actually a geography lecture hall, with beers for textbooks.

Drink different. My Dad was a Molson Export man. Full stop. One man, one beer — strictly monogamous. But times have changed, and now beer promiscuity is okay. Go ahead, play the field. Try the Blonde Ale tonight and the Amber tomorrow. Just be sure to use a glass. And fear no beer.

Drink with food. Invite beer to the grown-ups’ table. Beer’s diverse tastes matches with all sorts of flavours. Learn about food pairings at one of the beer dinners around town. Cook with beer. Beer can add something extra to many types of food.

Drink with others. Beer is a social drink that unglues tongues and gets relationships started. As the Edmonton Beer Geeks group notes: “the search for good beer need not be lonely.” They and the Homebrewers Guild meet monthly to talk beer and all are welcome. Bring beer to dinner parties. Host a beer tasting. And remember: friends don’t let friends drink crappy beer.

Drink better. Think before you drink. Don’t settle. Drink something awesome instead of something ordinary. Educate yourself. Attend a tasting, a beer dinner or a beer launch. Talk to people at better beer stores. Pick up a beer book from your local library. And most importantly, read The Tomato!

Carpe beer.

Alley Kat Three Bears Oatmeal Stout, Edmonton

Drink local by drinking beer from local heroes Alley Kat. First brewed for their Big Bottle series, Three Bears was such a hit that they brought it back in a six-pack version. This delicious beer is everything you want in an oatmeal stout — dark black with a roasty aroma, a slightly sweet, chocolate-roast taste and the characteristic silky mouth feel from the oats. Your new winter beer.

Zeos Blue Mak Lager, Argos, Greece

Drink global with a Greek beer of Canadian heritage. Greek émigré Christos Papadimas returned home to brew Greek beer modeled after the Canadian beer he loved while living in Canada. Partnered with two Vancouver brewers, he started Zeos Brewing in Peleponesia. In a gorgeous cobalt blue bottle, Blue Mak is a decent lager with a pleasant sweet taste focused on the malt.

Ommegang Three Philosophers Quadrupel, Cooperstown, New York

Drink different with this unique beer. “OMG it’s Ommegang!” cried local beer geeks when legendary Ommegang beer came to Alberta in 2010. Ommegang brews Belgian beer in America, and they brew it very well. Three Philosophers is an intriguing, intoxicating blend of rich, malty strong Belgian Ale and Kriek (cherry Lambic). Sip this blissfully by the fireside this winter.

Garrison Hop Yard Pale Ale, Halifax

Drink this beer with food, all sorts of food — American Pale Ale is a versatile style that matches well with a wide variety of flavours. Brewed on the east coast, Hop Yard is an assertively bitter, hoppy west coast ale. It is perfectly suited for cutting through the fat of pub food like burgers and fish and chips, as well as spicier fare.

Phillips Hop Circle IPA, Victoria

Drink with others, like the eager hop heads who welcomed brewer Matt Phillips and his flagship India Pale Ale to Edmonton in 2010. Before last year, Alberta hop heads had to travel to BC to sample Phillips’ flavour-forward brews. Hop Circle is a classic Pacific Northwest hop bomb, with a big citrus-pine nose and thirst-busting bitterness all through the taste. Handle with care.

Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Tadcaster, Yorkshire, UK

Drink better with this classic English Brown Ale from the historic brewery founded in 1758. Walnut in colour, with a touch of almonds and halzenut in taste, Smith’s Nut Brown is malty rather than hoppy, matching well with traditional English foods like Stilton cheese and roasts, but up to the challenge of today’s English cuisine — Indian and Thai food.

Peter Bailey is an Edmonton-area librarian who resolves to exercise more this year to make room for beer.