One of the cool byproducts of Alberta’s growing craft beer industry is seeing breweries team up for collaborations that spawn some pretty interesting creations.
The folks at Brewsters Brewing recently put a different spin on the concept by making a blonde ale that’s a collaboration with barley farmers.
One could make a convincing argument that any beer made with barley is a collaboration with growers — and every craft brewer I know holds producers and maltsters in high esteem — but it’s a relationship that rarely takes centre stage. If beer’s four main ingredients were a band, barley would be the bassist. Barley is like John Paul Jones in Led Zeppelin: the reliable and stoic performer who holds it all together from a place where the spotlight rarely shines.
Considering the world-class barley grown here in Alberta, it seems like something worth celebrating more than we do. Brewsters has aimed to rectify that with Beer Clouds Anti-Hail Ale, which highlights barley grown by group of local producers.
The name of the beer is drawn from the farmers’ lingo: they call rain clouds “Beer Clouds,” because they portend drinking beer instead of working the fields. But crops also need rain, and it’s far preferable to growers than destructive hail.
The barley producers also had influence over the beer itself, agreeing on a blonde, medium-bodied beer with a single hop variety — the mildly citric Mandarina Bavaria — meant to complement the barley, rather than upstage it.
To this end, the beer succeeds. By no means does Beer Clouds possess a knock-your-socks-off flavour profile, but it’s not meant to. The malty quality is soft and bready, with a slight sweetness at the end — not unlike the Golden Promise barley that is the linchpin of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, England’s famously balanced and drinkable ale.
Now, comparisons work both ways — so I must add that Beer Clouds is no Landlord. But it’s a pleasant showcase for locally-grown barley and an enjoyable, straightforward beer. You can get it for a limited time on tap or in 650 mL bombers at all Brewsters locations, or search Liquor Connect for a store near you that carries the bottles.