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Craft Beer Finally Makes it to the Stampede Grounds

If you love the frothy effervescent of a pint on a hot summer day, you’re going to rejoice in hearing the Calgary Stampede is set to toast locally made craft beers with the addition of the first ever craft beer showcase. During Stampede the market, located in the Big Four Station, will showcase a selection of IPAs, pilsners, ales, unfiltered whites and seasonal varieties from 23 of Alberta’s craft breweries.

This is a huge milestone for not only the Stampede, but also the craft brewing community. Brewing beer is a signature industry in Alberta. Every ingredient needed to make beer grows right here in the province. In fact, Alberta’s malt barley is coveted on a global scale and is used in beers around the world.

We all know that Budweiser has had a long-standing mutually beneficial relationship with the Calgary Stampede, and will continue to. However, The Stampede understood the desire, and need, to highlight local craft beer the way it celebrates other elements of Alberta’s history and culture. Through working with the Alberta Small Brewers Association (ASBA), they collectively came up with the Craft Beer Market.

“This is a big step in the right direction and will give tourists and all our friends and neighbours a chance to share in the growth of the Alberta Craft Beer scene,” stated Jim Button, Co-founder of Village Brewery. “Annually I would visit the Stampede Board to discuss how we could bring the local fare back to this great event, and Ed McNally (Big Rock Brewery Founder) would remind them of how many years ago guests would walk in to the grounds past rows of pies, butchered meats and other locally made items.”

Not only will attendees have the opportunity to sample a variety of beers throughout the ten days, for those interested there will also be a number of Brewmasters dinners created by the Stampede’s chef that guests can purchase in advance.

“Each dinner will highlight five breweries,” says ASBA executive director, Terry Rock. “The brewmasters and brewery owners will be in attendance giving guests the unique opportunity to meet these people and learn about the beers as they dine.”

That said we all know the midway food is part of the experience when visiting the Calgary Stampede, and beer is the perfect pairing for many of these indulgent treats. It can cut through the oils and fats whether through acidity, alcohol, effervescence or hoppy bitterness, refreshing the palate for every bite.

So we asked a few of our pals what their favourite midway food is and what craft beer they would pair it with.

Terry Rock (Executive Director, ASBA)

It’s got to be the classic mini-donuts. I’d pair them with a strong IPA, because the beer’s bitterness will be able to perfectly balance out the doughnuts sugary sweetness.

Jim Button (Co-founder, Village Brewery)

I’m a midway purist. I like the corndog. And it has to be with the Village Blonde of course as I imagine eating the corn dog on the hot tarmac and this beer is so clean and refreshing.

And the real reason: it’s my mom on the packaging and I would love to do the midway with her again.

Ken Biffi (Sales, Beerthirst)

For me it’s always corndogs with lots of mustard. A big IPA Railway Avenue Rye IPA will clean the palette. Also you have that nice tang from mustard, which pairs well with the hops in the IPA.

Phil Brian (Brewery Operations Manager, Bearhill Brewing)

Hands down it’s got to be spicy barbeque ribs slathered in hot sauce. Our Last Best IPA is the perfect match to soothe that burn.

Dan Clapson (Food Writer)

I can’t deny myself a bag of cinnamon sugar dusted mini doughnuts every, single time I go to the Calgary Stampede Midway. I’d pair them with Toolshed’s classic People Skills Cream Ale. It’s a good thirst-quencher and pretty mellow in flavour, letting the cinnamon-sugar fried nuggets of goodness have the limelight.

David Wald (Founder, Stmpdr)

So many great food options in and around town but at the Stampede I always opt for a footlong corndog. I think a crisp, cold Kolsch would pair nicely on a hot July day. Cheers!

Katy Bond
Katy Bond
A dot connector, story teller, and experience maker. I’m an urban hippy at heart, but for 10 glorious days you can find me two-stepping with the best of them and Stampeding like a boss.