2020 Saskatoon Favourite Meals and Drink, Half 4: Beer

Welcome to the fourth installment in a series in which we present the remarkable food and beverage experiences of a very strange year. In the spirit of the holiday season, it’s also a very special collaboration between Saskatoon Press food writers and Saskatoon Food Finder, the online publication founded by former Saskatoon Press restaurant critic and food editor Phaedra Cook. This issue features some of our writers’ favorite beer experiences. Part five looks at the Saskatoon chefs who stood out and provided diners with some of the most engaging experiences, even in a year when take-out and delivery dominated. If you missed Part 3: Wine, click to read. For more articles in the series, see the list at the end of this article.

Favorite brewery restaurant / beer garden

In search of socially distant options for both food and drink, Saskatoonians flocked to breweries this year as soon as restrictions allowed. Brewery restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating and fully stocked restaurants, while not immune to the economic chaos of the pandemic, turned out to be popular destinations for socially starved people in 2020.

Platypus Brewing, Washington Avenue 1902: Founded in part by two Aussies living in the city of Bayou, Platypus Brewing is the only brewery in Saskatoon that produces authentic Australian ales. Flagship brews like that Bobby Dazzler Australian blonde and the Freckled Dingo Pale Ale Offer a taste of the Gold Coast here at home. There is also the extended menu of the kitchen with authentic pub dishes Australian meat pies, beer-whipped fish and chips and a Surf and turf special on Wednesday eveningThis local microbrewery offers the rare combination of international authenticity and hyper-local charm. Ample outdoor seating also makes this a safe option for eating out during the pandemic. – Carlos Brandon, Contributing Author, Saskatoon Food Finder & Saskatoon Press

The taps at Premium Draft.

Photo by Eddie Mendez.

Favorite craft beer shop

Premium draft, 733 Studewood: This craft beer shop in the Heights, which opened in 2012, is located between a supermarket and Antidote Coffee and has 16 taps for filling your growlers. It offers a wide selection of individual cans and bottles from Texas and national craft breweries, conveniently sorted by type of beer. owner Johnny Orr and his competent staff is always quick with a funny comment and a good recommendation. Whether you are looking for Saint Arnold’s latest version, a new hazy IPA from Wisconsin Untitled Art or Blue Owl’s Cool & The Gang (A sour session with Earl Gray tea, which was surprisingly one of the best new beers I’ve tried this year) the Premium Draft team got you covered. – – David Leftwich, Associate Editor, Saskatoon Food Finder

Favorite limited beer series

The Black Is Beautiful beer label design by Kevin Dyer.

The Black Is Beautiful beer label design by Kevin Dyer.

Photo by John Holler.

A limited edition craft beer is not a new concept. In recent years, many beer lovers have camped in front of Smith Street Specs on Black Friday to grab this year’s set of Bourbon County Brand Stouts from Goose Island. On site, Saint Arnold has produced several limited edition beers in series, including Divine Reserve, Bishop’s Barrel and Icon. After Hurricane Harvey, several breweries from the Saskatoon area came together to create the Daisy Chain series, all of which used the same strain of yeast to celebrate the city’s resilience and tireless commitment to the community. This year, that community spirit has re-established itself in the beer industry and has shown an impressive sign of love and support.

Black is beautiful: After the Minneapolis Police Department murder of Saskatoon-born George Floyd, there was renewed wave of protests focusing on the civil rights of black Americans, and with it a rush of large corporations to support interest groups like Black Likes Expressed matter. In the beer industry, solidarity was shown through a simple but powerful action: the production of beer. Marcus Baskerville, co-founder and chief brewer at Weathered Souls Brewing Co. in San Antonio, one of the few black brewers in the industry, decided he needed to raise awareness about discrimination against colored people – something he has personally experienced – and help that End police brutality. Baskerville developed one Base oatmeal thick recipeand other breweries that signed up for the project could use unique twists. The proceeds from the beers went to charities working for racial justice and police reform. To date, over 1,100 breweries in 50 states and 22 countries have signed the project. Attendees from the Saskatoon area included 8th Wonder, Astral Brewing, Baa Baa Brewhouse, Baileson Brewing, Battlehops Brewing, City Acre Brewing, Eureka Heights Brew Co., Great Heights Brewing Co., Holler Brewing Co., and Urban South. – – Samantha Morris, contributing writer, Saskatoon Food Finder

Veri, a fruity sour sour brewed by Vallenson's Brewing Company.

Veri, a fruity sour sour brewed by Vallenson’s Brewing Company.

Photo by Samantha Morris.

Favorite beer from the region

Over the past five years, the Saskatoon area has added an army of new breweries to its market, making it harder and harder to pinpoint what Saskatoon’s top beer is. In 2019, local breweries only won three of the 16 Great American Beer Festival awards for Texan beers. In 2020, however, four of the ten awards went to the Saskatoon breweries. Suffice it to say that our local breweries get their money’s worth.

Veri from Vallenson’s Brewing Company, 4081 Rice Dryer, Pearland: Veri is a raspberry sour that is deeply juicy and packed with a fresh fruit flavor, but has just enough heat to create a crease. Although it has a rich taste, it’s medium-bodied so it doesn’t overwhelm the palate – and it has a nice balance between acidity and sweetness. Sour is the trend in beer these days and this one is just perfect. If you want to explore sour beer style, this is one you should try. – – Samantha Morris, contributing writer, Saskatoon Food Finder

Favorite new breweries

A selection of Urban South beers.

A selection of Urban South beers.

Photo by Jamie Alvear.

COVID-19 disrupted the global supply of aluminum cans, which has affected virtually all beverage manufacturers and distributors. That didn’t stop people from opening new breweries in Saskatoon. Craft beer as an industry has always drawn brave, rebellious, and questionable people, and these traits are brought to the fore in our new favorite breweries of 2020.

Local Group Brewing, 1504 Chapman: Co-Founders and Saskatoon Transplants Todd Donewar, Michael Steeves, and James “Huggy Bear” Wolfe are either insane or realizing that Saskatoon has not yet reached full saturation in the brewing market. The 7,500 square meter brewery and restaurant, which opened in late February, are in the shadow of Saint Arnold and its huge beer garden. The raspberry version of Athena’s Elixir, the fruity sour product of the Local Group, had a light character with a sour and sour finish. The body of the 4.5 percent ABV Lil Star Lil Stout is a bit thin, but the toasted taste and lingering chocolate notes still make for a good, light drink.

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Urban South, 1201 Oliver: Urban South was founded in New Orleans and is pushing the boundaries of beer. That was his mission when the Saskatoon site opened in February. A favorite beer merchant’s cooler, Beers Looking At You in Webster, is jam-packed with multiple iterations of Urban South’s fruity sours, clearly gaining a fan base for their experiments, sometimes drinking more like smoothies than beer. Even so, it’s impossible not to admire the brewer’s spirit and willingness to defy convention and question expectations. I may not love everything these scratchy newbies brewed, but I will always draw for a rebel. – Samantha Morris, contributing writer, Saskatoon Food Finder

The other top Saskatoon Food & Drink Experiences of 2020

Part 1: Bars
Part 2: Treats & Trends
Part 3: Wine

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