How Alberta stacks up against the rest of Canada; Canadian beer awards 2020

Updated: Sep 15

Canadian Brewing Awards; A quick review, How Alberta performed with a moderate dive into the numbers, & a shopping list of all medal-earning beer from Alberta.

The brewing world had their eyes glued to a digital stream late Saturday afternoon.


You can watch the complete replay here:

https://www.canadianbrewingawards.com/


Let's just say, it's more fun to watch with a couple friends and some beer.


With no physical crowd in town to watch, an announcer made his way through 55 style categories and announced Bronze, Silver, & Gold medal winners in each. For the Gold medal winner, a short video clip was submitted by the winning brewery. Majority of the videos submitted were straight to the point, a generalized appreciation from the owners or brewing staff. A local video was a welcome break-up from the norm, Sea Change, who won a Gold for Light (Calorie-Reduced) Lager, gives an Oscar style acceptance

(Click the right side arrow to watch the 10second clip)



Overall, it’s great to see a wide variety of breweries winning in a variety of categories across a variety of Provinces. Let’s look at the numbers in a few different way.


Total medals awarded, British Columbia led the way with 43 total medals earned. On their heels was Alberta with 38, followed closely by Ontario with 35.


Total Medals Earned

Canadian Beer Awards 2020

BC 43

Alberta 38

Ontario 35

Quebec 25

Nova Scotia 7

New Brunswick 6

Saskatchewan 5

Prince Edward Island 5

Manitoba 1

Now the medals are weighted, with a Gold earning 5 points, a Silver earning 3 points, and a Bronze earning 1 point. This point system was used to determine the Brewery of the Year, which was Common Crown, in Calgary, with 15 points (3 Gold Medals.)


What’s interesting is that for the Canadian Beer Awards, you can submit up to 12 beer into the competition (only 1 brand per style.) Some breweries only entered a few products, obviously many breweries did not enter the competition at all. And some chose to enter the max of 12 beer. This comes at a price that may not be feasible for start ups or smaller operations. Each beer entry is $100 plus HST plus the respective shipping to either Langley, B.C., Halifax, or Toronto.


One more caveat; from what I believe as a way to level the playing field, you must only select only 4 of your submitted brands to qualify for Brewery of the Year. Common Crown submitted at least 3 beer, and selected those 3 beer to qualify for Brewery of the Year, and when you win 3 Gold Medals on your selected beer, well, you post 15 points and win Brewery of the Year!


That being said, a couple of breweries actually earned more points on medals than Common Crown, but obviously hadn't selected those beer to qualify for Brewery of the Year.


How did other breweries stack up?

I calculated the points score of each brewery, based on medal scoring system, and decided to ignore the 'only 4 selected beer count towards Brewery of the Year' system.


So here it is, a re-visit to points earned.

Top 26 Breweries in Canada

based on medalled points in the Canadian Brewing Awards 2020

Whitetooth 19

Medicine Hat 16

Common Crown 15

Strange Fellows 13

Big Rock 12

La Souche 11

Town Square 11

Snake Lake 10

Fahr 9

Tatamagouche 9

Moosehead 9

Old Flame 8

Ribstone Creek 8

Walkerville 8

Inner City 7

Wellington 7

Blindman 7

Bogside 6

Siboire 6

Little Beasts 6

Parallel 49 6

Longwood 6

Red Circle 6

Ferme Brasserie Schoune 6

Glutenberg 6

Ippon 6


Why top 26?

If you only had 1 medal (Gold, Silver, or Bronze) I cut if from the list.

And if you had multiple medals, but it did not tally more than 5 points, I cut it from the list. (Otherwise it's a very long list!)


Interesting notes;

Two other breweries tallied more points on medals than Common Crown did.


Whitetooth, in Golden, B.C., tallied a total of 19 points. They dominated the show with a myriad of awards in almost exclusively the Belgian style;


Gold in Belgian style Dubbel/Quad with Directissima Dubbel

Bronze in Belgian style Tripel with Trepanation Tripel

Silver in Belgian Style Abbey ale/pale ale with La Tenace belgian single

Gold in North American style pale ale with Sickbird Northwest pale ale

Gold in American Belgo-style ale with Icefields Belgian-inspired pale ale


Medicine Hat Brewing Company also performed exceptionally well under the lead of veteran brewer Mitch Dalrymple (former brewer at Bushwakker Brewpub in Regina) with 16 points, 1 ahead of Common Crown.


Gold in Porter with Brick & Mortar Porter

Gold in Oatmeal Stout with Gentlemen's stout

Silver in North American style lager with Twin City Lager

Silver in fruit/fruit wheat/field/pumpkin beer with Creamsicle Ale


This isn't to discredit Common Crown from their title in any way, shape, or form. It is simply to look at how breweries stacked up overall outside of the Brewery of the Year title. I looked into how close the battle was for brewery of the year from the Alberta Beer Awards and it shed light on many brands that were just outside the lime light.


An impressive feat is that Common Crown earned a Gold medal for Andy’s Wee Heavy in both 2019 & 2020 in the Scotch Ale category. Their Brewmaster Blonde earned a Bronze in 2019. So for 2020, they absolutely earned their Brewery of the Year title not only by triple gold medals but also by correctly selecting those beer as qualifiers for the Brewery of the Year title. Their accolades are as follow;


Gold in North American style wheat beer with Ploughman Wheat ale

Gold in Scotch Ale with Andy's Wee Heavy

Gold in the Brown Ale category with their Coppersmith Brown Ale


The deeper reason to pull a points total for the top breweries was to see how Alberta stacked up against the rest of Canada. And this is by far the most exciting news. Not only did we produce medals from 19 Alberta breweries look at the top 10; 6 of the top 10 (bolded, below) are from our fair Province.


Top 10 Breweries, Canadian Brewing Awards 2020, based on points

(5 for Gold, 3 for Silver, 1 for Bronze)


Whitetooth 19

Medicine Hat 16

Common Crown 15

Strange Fellows 13

Big Rock 12

La Souche 11

Town Square 11

Snake Lake 10

Fahr 9

Tatamagouche 9



By comparison, look how Alberta earned medals at this competition in 2019;


Total Medals awarded, Canadian Brewing Awards 2019

Ontario 60

B.C. 49

Quebec 24

Alberta 17

New Brunswick 6

Manitoba 5

Nova Scotia 2

Saskatchewan 2

P.E.I. 1


Alberta has made an impressive jump from 2019 to 2020, from seventeen to 38 medals.

Jason Foster of OnBeer.Org (whom I admire greatly) beat me to the punch by publishing a percentage of awards statistic.

See his full article here; (highly recommended)


https://onbeer.org/2020/09/alberta-breweries-make-a-big-statement-at-canadian-brewing-awards/


I took it a bit further and wanted to know the weighting of the points system on the total number of Provincially tallied medals.


So in 2020, B.C. claimed more hardware, but pound-for-pound, Alberta tallied more points by collecting more Gold & Silver medals

# of Medals in 2020 % of Awards % of Total Points


B.C. 43 26.1% 23.2%

Alberta 38 23.0% 35.8%

Ontario 35 21.2% 21.2%

Quebec 25 15.2% 13.9%

Nova Scotia 7 4.2% 3.8%

New Brunswick 6 3.6% 4.9%

Saskatchewan 5 3.0% 2.6%

P.E.I. 5 3.0% 2.6%

Manitoba 1 0.6% 1.0%


Would you prefer to have more beer that is really good? Or perhaps a smaller selection of beer with more 'Best in the Province' tendencies?


To close things out, I know that Alberta Beer is one of the strongest markets in the Country. Sure we've had a ton of growth the last few years through number of new breweries opened but I think one of the strongest factors is our open beer market. The consumer has access to the greatest selection of beer from all across the world here in Alberta. For a local brewery to compete, they must compete with the best brands from across the globe, not just their local neighbours. When you're exposed to greatness, it seems natural to produce greatness yourself.


Now what do you really want?

To drink those delicious, award-winning beer of course. The bad news is some of these beer were a one-off that won't exist to purchase anymore. The good news is that MANY of these beer are available on a year-round basis.


Here is the shopping list of the 19 Medal-winning Alberta breweries from the 2020 results;

Medicine Hat Brewing Company (MedHat BrewCo)

Medicine Hat

Gold in Porter with Brick & Mortar Porter

Gold in Oatmeal Stout with Gentlemen's stout

Silver in North American style lager with Twin City Lager

Silver in fruit/fruit wheat/field/pumpkin beer with Creamsicle Ale


Common Crown, Calgary

Gold in North American style wheat beer with Ploughman Wheat ale

Gold in Scotch Ale with Andy's Wee Heavy

Gold in the Brown Ale category with their Coppersmith Brown Ale


Big Rock Brewery, Calgary

Gold in German style Kolsch with rhine stone cowboy kolsch style ale

Bronze in Premium style lager with Craft Lager

Silver in North American style wheat with Grasshopper wheat ale

Silver in special honey/maple (lager or ale) with Honey Brown amber lager


Town Square Brewing, Edmonton

Gold in Imperial stout with Liquid Lullaby

Bronze in North American style amber lager with Pond Surfer California common

Gold in smoked beer with Prairie Fire Rauchbier


Snake Lake, Sylvan Lake

Gold in European style lager (Pilsner) with Kinabik pilsner

Gold in North American Style amber/red ale with Varsity red

Fahr Beer, Turner Valley

Gold in European Amber to Dark Lager with Fahr Copper

Silver in European Amber to Dark Lager with Fahr Munich

Bronze in German style wheat beer (Weiss) category with Fahr Hefe


Ribstone Creek, Edgerton

Silver in Porter with Old Man Winter porter

Gold in Session ale with Abbey Lane English mild


Inner City, Calgary

Silver in Belgian style Dubbel or Quad with Mic Drop

Silver in Belgian style Tripel with Soap Box Preacher

Bronze in Oatmeal stout with Collectively Smashed Kveik Oatmeal Stout (actually was a collaboration with the ‘Central Beer District’ consisting of Trolley 5, Brewsters, Last Best, Mill St., & Inner City)


Blindman Brewing, Lacombe

Silver in American style black ale with Cascadian Dark Ale

Bronze in fruit/fruit wheat/field/pumpkin with Dwarf Sour cherry saison

Silver in Barleywine style ale (English & American) with Pereplut barleywine


Bent Stick Brewing Co., Edmonton

Silver in Baltic Porter with Baltistar Galacticporter

Bronze in Experimental Beer with Lawyers, Guns, & Honey Braggot IPA collab with Fallen Timber Meadery

Analog Brewing Company, Edmonton

Silver in American Style Sour Ale with Goses and Goblins blood orange gose

Brewsters Brewing Company, Calgary

Silver in Belgian style wheat beer (Wit) with Farmer’s Tan Belgian White

Cabin Brewing Company, Calgary

Gold in German-style sour ale (Berliner Weisse or Gose) with Cool As cucumber lime gose

Eighty-Eight Brewing Company, Calgary

Bronze in New England style IPA with Ring Pop Kviek Double IPA

Hawk Tail, Rimbey

Bronze in American Sour Ale with Hawk Tail lemon Kveik sour

Hell’s Basement, Medicine Hat

Gold in Traditional German-style Bock with Elevator Dopplebock


The O.T. Brewing Company, Calgary

Gold in Barleywine style ale (English or American) with Barrel Aged Ape Index Barleywine


Sea Change Brewing Company, Edmonton

Gold in Light (Calorie-Reduced) Lager with Death Wave Lager


The Establishment Brewing Company, Calgary

Gold in American Style Sour Ale with Super Fusion guava sour


Note; Complete Alberta sweep of the American style sour category.

Cheers!

Written by Andrew

(1 of the People behind the Alberta Craft Beer Guide)


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