Brew and band pairings that might make your BIG Winter Classic even better

Any idiot can tell you what kind of wine you should pair with food (i.e. red goes with everything; white goes with whatever you and your cat are eating on that particular night).

But it takes a special kind of idiot to offer advice as to what type of beer you should drink with the music you’re listening to. Both tastes are so entirely subjective, so entirely uncorrelated, what kind of moron would possibly presume to do such a thing?

That moron am this idiot!

This weekend sees the staging of the third BIG Winter Classic beer and music festival, which will take place Thursday through Sunday at a trio of locations in the Beltline and downtown — Last Best Brewing and Distilling, Broken City and Dickens Pub.

To make it all the more interesting and of the season, the first two venues, located side by side on 11th Ave. S.W., will also have their patios open, hosting more than 60 cool bands from Alberta and afar along with frosty pops from different local craft brewers.

While it’s difficult to know for certain what particular suds and styles will be on tap, we know the bands that are booked and can offer idiotic advice on what to imbibe for any moron what wants to listen.

Here’s a sixer of band-beer pairings for BIG Winter Classic.

Holy Fuck (Friday at Dickens): While some might reach for something experimental to go along with the sound of these T.O. electro oddballs — say a chai-infused, Belgian-style saison (that might be a thing — you don’t know) — you’re going to want something a little stronger, something that literally makes you mutter, “Holy fuck,” while your drinking it and when you finally pry your eyes open sometime the next day.

Beer: Imperial IPA

Tuns (Saturday at Dickens): This Haligonian supah-dupah group featuring members of Sloan, The Super Friendz and the Inbreds peddle the poppiest of power pop in the purdiest of ways. Their self-titled debut is about as sweet as it gets on the melodic saccharine scale with enough rock to stop from sending you into diabetic shock. If you find it a little too much so, you might want to counter it with a little something from the other side of the spectrum. Pucker up.

Beer: Kettle sour

Said the Whale (Thursday at Dickens Pub): From Canada’s other coast comes this Vancouver indie-folk trio, whose songs are light, spry and airy. They’re the equivalent of a warm spray on your tongue with a cool breeze down your pipes. Kind of like a surf ’n’ turn sans les poissans or du boeuf. In other words, water and wheat, with a little murk of the sea.

Beer: Hefeweizen

Northcote (Thursday at Broken City, inside): While also from the West Coast — Vic not Van —  there’s actually the whiff of a different coast washing up the music of Matt Goud and Co., and that’s the Jersey shore. It’s a muscular yet sensitive blue-collar sound that sits easily alongside actual Joisey boys such as The Boss and the Gaslight Anthem. You’re going to want to hoist more than a few to forget the grind of the 9 to 5 while enjoying Northcote’s 59 Sound.

Beer: American lager (chase each with a shot of whiskey to complete the boilermaker)

The Wet Secrets (Saturday at Last Best, inside): What beer can you drink that makes you so giddy that the smile on your face can’t be wiped off with a belt sander and blow torch? A brew so intoxicating that you’d swear it was made of turpentine and sunshine? One that makes you so happy that you feel as if God, Buddha, Allah, Shiva and Richard Dawkins are having a party in your mouth and using slivers of your liver as tabs of acid? You should have that. In copious if not infinite amounts. Watch these Edmonton marching band popsmiths. And feel the goodness wash over you. Inside and out. 

Beer: Your choice. Just make sure you drink all of it. All. Of. It.

Chad VanGaalen (Saturday at Last Best, outside): A last-minute addition when The Pack A.D. dropped out, Calgary’s weird and wonderful wildling more than makes up for any disappointment that Packmen and Ms. Packmen might be feeling at the B.C. duo’s absence. Let’s face it, VanGaalen is one of the finest artists that this city has ever produced, and getting an opportunity to see him any time, let alone in this setting, is one that everyone can and should appreciate and enjoy. Hell, you might not even need a drink to … Nah. Don’t be an idiot.

Beer: Anything local

BIG Winter Classic takes place this Thursday through Sunday. For tickets, lineup and complete schedule go to

Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for He likes beer. Buy him one. Email at