Thursday, August 17, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Testing the Water at Coulee Brewing Company in Lethbridge, AB - The Home of Alberta Pilsners

Must be the Water

Lethbridge has a brewing history.

Fritz Sick came to Lethbridge in 1901 with $8,000 and started the Alberta Brewery. The brewery had as its 1st brew, a lager called Alberta’s Pride. This “beer without a peer” was advertised as “concentrated liquid food” and families were encouraged to serve the beverage at meals to help maintain strong digestive organs and encourage the appetite.

In 1905, the brewery began to make malt beer and changed its name to Lethbridge Brewing and Malting Co. In 1918 the brewery became Lethbridge Breweries Limited. The Brewery survived Prohibition by making Near Beer or Temperance Beer, a beer with only 2% alcohol.


Old Style Pilsner was first brewed in 1926 by Fritz Sick at his Sick's Breweries Ltd. in Lethbridge, Alberta. Although Molson’s Breweries Limited bought the brewery in 1958, Molson’s continued to brew Lethbridge Pilsner and Lethbridge Lager Beer. The company continued brewing these brands to “suit local taste preferences with skills, modern techniques, and experience supplied by the entire country-wide organization.”

In 1989, Molson’s merged with Carling O’Keefe Operations and in 1990 operations ceased at the Lethbridge Brewery. In 1991, 90 years after Fritz Sick began brewing in Lethbridge, the brewery was knocked down.

As brewing and craft beer is experiencing a renaissance in Alberta, Coulee Brewing Co stepped in, in 2016, filling the Lethbridge brewing and beer hole left behind by the Lethbridge Brewery's departure. By doing it, they have the opportunity to reinstate the Pilsner and Lager legacy of Lethbridge Brewing and taking it a step further.

Coulee Brew Co.'s beer is now available at select bars, restaurants, and retailers throughout the area. It opened its doors to the public on Jan 16th, 2016.  It is the 3 ½ year vision of craft passionate, local entrepreneurs, Deborah Pallett and Scott Crighton.  Its creation was driven by their desire to restore the history of beer production in the local Lethbridge community while involving the community every step of the way.

Coulee Brew is a 16,000sq ft facility, with 2 separate brewing systems - yes it is big for a craft brewery! Lethbridgians must be a thirsty lot. A 7bbl pilot system, and a 4 vessel 30 bbl system. The tap house and grill is a full-service pub style restaurant with an open concept. Patrons can sit, eat and drink while viewing all things beer through walls of glass to the facilities production area. 


Coulee has quality beers, created with respect for the history of brewing in the community, a love of craft, and pride for all things Southern Alberta offers.

Cudos to Coulee Brewing Co.'s focus on the well-known Pilsner. This was our favorite when we visited. Maybe the water in Lethbridge adds a character to a Pilsner that is unique to that part of the world. The Bear's Hump Nut Brown (named after a famous landmark in Waterton National Park, not too far away, and a favorite summer spot for us) is also go-to comfort food when we visit the Park or the brewery. 

We were astonished at the size of the facility and the buzz of activity we encountered during our visit. What was even more impressive was their hospitality on the day we arrived, unannounced. This makes Coulee Brewing another local favorite for the Two Cowboys and a recommended Two Cowboys experience in Lethbridge.

Hendrik van Wyk
Pilsner Cowboy

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Long Term Commitment

Making Beer

Drinking Beer

Talking Beer
Filming Beer

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: WilliamsWarn Beervolition Continues with Updates from Brewers in Auckland, NZ

"Fresherder" Beer

We are well down the path of beer liberation and beervolition by making and drinking our very own fresh beer.

It means that we are no-longer donating up to 51% in taxes and excise to non-value adding parties like local, provincial and federal government, and a further 25% in transport, packaging, branding, distribution and retailing. We've taken back our beer. We've taken control of our beverage and it saves us a huge sum of money.

To make our own beer is as simple as making a cup of tea. We do it using the help, equipment, and ingredients of WilliamsWarn. Not only is it a ridiculously simple, consistent and an almost fault-proof way of making beer, it also guarantees that our beer tastes better. It is fresh, the way bread must be fresh to enjoy it at its best.

We get to experiment with every possible traditional beer style and hops combination. We are also doing non-traditional style beer with chocolate, vanilla, fruits, and spices. If we've had enough of beer (not that it will ever happen), we do ciders with ginger, elderflower, and berries. The combinations and the options for creativity are endless.

If you have to ask us about our most important piece of equipment in our kitchens, we have to confess it is our WilliamsWarn BrewKegs. It is our path to liberation, frugality, freshness and our own great tasting freshly brewed beer!


Others' Beer

We made another beer run Downunder in the early parts of Summer 2017 to meet more beervolitionaries courtesy of WilliamsWarn. We also got a chance to experiment with some recipes in the WilliamsWarn test kitchen in Hastings, New Zealand.

Below you will meet some of the people that we visited and get a view of our escapades.

Enjoy their stories, and let us know in the comments if you've made the move to liberating your beer.

When you are ready to join us in our beervolition, we can introduce you to the good people at WilliamsWarn and give them a reason to launch WilliamsWarn North America sooner than planned.

Hendrik van Wyk
Brew Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at if you want to see more of this and other stories.

69 on K'Road Auckland, NZ

Jason Hill, Auckland

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Community and Old School Ingenuity at [Theoretically] Brewing in Lethbridge, AB

Brewing & Science

Sometimes, the most rewarding way is the better way. There are people in the world that are so enthralled with the process of creation that they take particular care not to sidestep any part of the journey. Words such as authentic, artisan, original, one-of-a-kind, and unique are associated with these makers.

For them, producing ice cream with a powder mix is not real ice cream. Chocolate without cocoa butter is not chocolate. Boots need to be hand-stitched and hats need to be hand shaped. You've seen and met many of these producers on this site. We want to introduce you to another pair that goes out of their way to keep it local, community focused, traditional and pure. They are Kris and Kelti from [Theoretically] Brewing Co. in Lethbridge.


Changes in Alberta's liquor laws opened up the opportunity in 2013 for craft brewing. [Theoretically] Brewing, took the plunge with a deluge of other budding brewing entrepreneurs to capitalize on the opportunity of making their community's beer. They joke that the process from fire-pit to tasting-room was the biggest game of chicken the pair have ever played as they kept expecting for reality to put a stop to their dream. Encouraging friends, stalwart enthusiasm, and incredible support from their families helped make [Theoretically] Brewing what it is today - Alberta's second smallest brewery.

Saying that it is the "second smallest craft brewery" doesn't do justice to the journey. Kelti explained that their commitment to their community helped to keep welders employed in Lethbridge during the recession to custom make their brew and fermentation tanks. They wrestled through the permitting system with the AGLC and Lethbridge Council until they pioneered a practical approach to sustainable energy use on their premises. However, all the good intentions will mean nothing if the beer is no good, so let's talk about the beer. It is good!

All of their beers are unpasteurized and unfiltered, meaning that there are live yeast cultures in the beer and that they do not contain preservatives. This sounds like fresh beer to us! They bottle finish their beers, which is gutsy for a commercial brewery. You can never be guaranteed of the end result in a batch. Every bottle can be different. Every batch can be different. At [Theoretically] Brewing it is all done by hand with a lot of love and care, while they tinker with new and creative processes and recipes. This is what craft is all about. Experimentation!

Even their beers are named after scientists and scientific concepts or theories.


Kelti, didn't spare us on the day we visited the brewery. She took us through their entire repertoire of the brewery's arsenal of beers. Step-by-step we settled into tasting from the lighter to the darker beers until we ended with the stouts. At least, that is as much as I can remember. After the fourth beer, we can't remember what happened. Apparently, she explained how their love of stout is where the inspiration for the Brewery came from.

All we know is that it was a big tasting. We sipped from giant test tubes and savored every moment, aroma and flavor. No beer was wasted. We drank every last drop as Kelti took us through the inspiration for every brew. There is a story behind each one, which we hope to bring you in subsequent installments.

We came away from [Theoretically] brewing with mixed emotions. Somehow, we don't want them to change and grow up. We wish them success and many years of beer market domination and at the same time, we want them to stay as they are.

They must remain one of the smallest breweries in Alberta. We want to keep them our secret. They are quaint, special, practical and passionate about what they do. If you contrast it with some of the other more recent additions to Alberta's Craft Brewing scene, [Theoretically] Brewing inspires what a true Craft Brewery is all about. They don't do hectolitres of yet another Ale, Pilsner or Brown. They don't have the flash taproom or the "beertarts" in sales marketing, crisscrossing the Province and selling yet another label or brand.

Instead, for them, it is about the process of creation. The community that comes from the support of their people. The experiments and the focus on keeping it practical. Theoretically, they are one of the more unique breweries we've had the privilege to visit so far. Believe me, we will be back at the first opportunity we get.

Hendrik van Wyk
Theoretically a Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at if you want to see more of this and other stories.


"Tube Porn"

Bottle Finished


Test Tube Heaven

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