Alberta Unity Brew 2013

Reviewed by on May 13, 2014 in Local Heroes Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Banff Ave. Brewing Co.

  • Origin: Banff, AB, CA

  • Rated On: May 9, 2014

  • Best Before: N/A

  • ABV: 9.0%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: Russian Imperial Stout

  • Rating: GREAT !!

The Review

The Unity Brew is a collaboration of the members of the Alberta Small Brewers Association, first cooked up in 2009, where one brewery hosts the event, and the rest help develop the recipe and donate the ingredients for the one-off beer to be brewed.  Each participant brewery receives a keg or so of the finished product, and the proceeds of their sales go to a charity of each brewery’s choice. This is the 5th annual, 2014 version – a Russian Imperial Stout – which is actually made at the Banff Ave. Brewing Co., right in the heart of the Rocky Mountains (sorry, purveyors of the Silver Bullet!)

This 650ml bottle (apparently packaged at Grizzly Paw’s facilities in Canmore) appears a solid black, no highlights, no how, even when pressed into the early evening light just outside my basement’s windows, with one limp finger of loosely foamy, and generally bubbly tan head, which leaves a decent array of approaching storm system lace around the glass as things slowly ebb away.

It smells of lightly charred bready caramel malt, bittersweet cocoa, day-old coffee, raisins and dried plum fruitiness, black licorice, earthy, leafy hops, and a minor alcohol warmth. The taste is semi-sweet roasted caramel/toffee malt, licorice-laced coffee, milk chocolate, subtle wet ash, muted orange and lemon hop notes, and more earthy, leafy, and slightly perfumed bitters. The bubbles are fairly active and well in play – beyond yer average RIS, at least – the body medium-heavy in weight, and pretty smooth, with a deft stab at creaminess. It finishes on the sweet side, the caramel malt, cocoa, and understated dark fruitiness carrying the day, a small prickly business arising as things progress.

For a ‘too many chefs spoil the broth’ sort of potential situation, this seems to have turned out just peachy. Big, malty, and toasty, in both its sweetness and alcohol rendering, and easier to drink than it should be, by any right. Hard to come by – not so strangely, you do have look for it – but well worthy if you do get a chance to enjoy the collective efforts of Wild Rose country’s best.

Brady White

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