Village experiments with possibilities

Brewery adds community to the recipe for a local beer

Village Brewery recently let the community in on the ingredients for its latest brew. Specifically the community is Bridgeland the ingredient is hops and the brew is Village Gardener Community Involved Ale.

“It happened really fast” says Jim Button community affairs spokesperson for Village Brewery. “We weren’t planning on putting a beer out right now.”

The idea started brewing when one of the Village partners provided hops from his land near Spruce Meadows and the brewery decided to create a beer that was as local as possible. Village put the word out on Facebook and James Duggan who lives in Bridgeland and makes his own beer with friends responded. Duggan says his neighbour has a fence covered in hops vines he’s been growing for 15 years so he and some friends picked the hops while their kids played then he dried them and took them to Village. “I’d never picked them before” says Duggan who was happy that they were usable.

Button says Village Gardener is described by the brewer as a “mutt.” That’s because when a brewery buys hops from a farm it knows the exact variety it’s getting but when it sources hops from the community the breed may not be known plus there’s the potential for cross-pollination etc. “All sorts of crazy things could be happening” he explains.

Regardless of origin and variety Button says the hops from Bridgeland smelled good so Village added them to the mix for flavour.

“It’s our first beer that we’ve had that’s more hop-forward” he says. “The fact we had a hop-forward beer with hops grown in Calgary fits who we are.”

In return for the hops Duggan says he received some beer for “personal use” as well as two kegs for a fundraiser for a charity of the Bridgeland group’s choice: the Calgary Horticultural Society. He has been in contact with the president of the society Kenna Burima who is also a local musician and they are working out the details for the event.

As for the beer itself it’s being sold in one-litre bottles (half the size of a Village growler) and only 1200 are available. Duggan says he liked the beer and after receiving the recipe was able to duplicate it quite closely himself using some leftover neighbourhood hops. “It’s nice. It’s crisp and not too hoppy” he adds.

At Village this initiative started another idea brewing. Button says the brewery will use local ingredients sourced from the community to create a new Village Gardener Community Involved Ale every year. Button plans to meet with community garden enthusiasts in the new year to talk about ideas and collectively choose the featured ingredient which he says could be anything from rosehips to rhubarb.

“I really believe in the deal of the community garden and I’ve always wanted to support it. This is going to be the vehicle” he says.

“Who knows what the community will pick — when you throw something wild in there it’s always a pleasant surprise.”