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"We celebrate Life! We love good food. Drink too much. We cook with fire. We travel and live like there is no tomorrow."

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Meeting Our Brewers and Distillers at Calgary International Beerfest Courtesy of ABF, Alberta, Canada

Our Beer

We wanted to know where our beer comes from. That is why we attended the 2017 Calgary International Beerfest courtesy of Bill Robinson from Alberta Beer Festivals.

This is not another blog post to get wax lyrical about the explosion of craft and micro brewing in Alberta. We are not going to contemplate the ever prevailing evils of big corporations or the AGLC's manipulation of the industry. We are also going to leave the hophead potshots for another time (only this time).

In this post, the Traveling Cowboys went searching for the makers. The people who brew our beer and distil our Whisky in Alberta - Our people.

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A convention and festival is an ideal opportunity for a business to exhibit its wares. It is a chance to get close to prospective and loyal customers. When we get an invitation to attend a fest we cannot contain our enthusiasm to see what's new. It is even better when a beer is involved.

Who doesn't like a road trip? We love traveling to see and meet the Brewers and Distillers of our Province. As a bonus, an event like this gives us a chance to "speed date" the newer producers and "speed taste" unique new beverage creations. We get to introduce ourselves, catch up with old friends and meet the "new babies" (With "new babies" we imply original beverage creations and concoctions from inspirational experimentations. There is no place for children in a beer hall.).


We discovered at the Calgary International Beerfest that it was crowded.

Yes, we know it is a very popular and an ever-growing event with more than forty thousand attendees over two half-days. What we mean with crowded is that we proudly saw how well represented our own Alberta producers were against the imports from other Provinces. Alberta producers are starting to carry their own weight when placed alongside the big names. We are slowly and gloriously starting to crowd out the corporations.

There was another very obvious distinction between the breweries in attendance. We like to distinguish between the "dress-ups" and the "show-ups." The "dress-ups" put effort into portraying the lifestyle. The "show-ups" are living it.

The dress-up booths have the band, the brand, the packaging and the script that hits the caramel notes, chocolate, sea breeze aromas and IBUs. The customary V-Dub bus is parked in front with the smiling Beertarts pouring drinks from its side, to complete the perfect portrayal of fake friendships, market segmented tastes, brand associations, and consumer preferences.

The show-ups brought their kegs on a wheelbarrow. The taps are in a toolbox. In the back, a bag of ice in a tin bath is chilling the beer. The brewer is the business. His personality is the brand. He pours your pint from a brew he mashed last week. To become his customer is to be counted as one of his friends. No one can recall the names of his beers, and it doesn't really matter. His passion for consistent perfection is what is important. He never disappoints. Hops grow in his beard. Everything he does and that comes with him is real and authentic.

This is how we know where our beer comes from. It comes from a brewer. Our people.

What truly sets some apart from others is the passion that comes from the maker. The authenticity of the people, their community involvement and the quality of the beer.

According to Bill Robinson, "People want to know who is responsible for what they are eating and drinking." We completely agree. It is good to know who they are.

Hendrik van Wyk
Beer Cowboy

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The V-Dub Bus

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