Best brewed with friends: Alberta’s breweries come together with their 2021 Unity Brew

Every year, brewers from across Alberta gather to brew a beer. Proceeds for the sale of the beer go to the Alberta Small Brewers Association (, the provincial industry guild, which uses the funds to support the Association’s efforts, including promotion, lobbying, education and diversity.

This year, 60 participants from 27 breweries across Alberta gathered at Grizzly Paw Brewing (310 Old Canmore Road, Canmore;, which was eager to host the annual brew day as part of its own 25th anniversary celebrations. “It’s a celebration of the industry,” says Blair Berdusco, executive director of ASBA. “It’s a chance for us come together, socialize and talk about new and exciting things from raw materials to actual production. It’s a great day!”

The brew day is a chance for Alberta’s brewers to catch up and share ideas. It is a mini-conference and social gathering with this year’s being even more social, given the inability of brewers to gather last year due to the pandemic.

Unity Brew is a big part of the success of Alberta’s beer industry. Indeed, it is supported not only by the breweries themselves, but also by industry partners. The malt used in the beer was donated by Canada Malting (Calgary), Rahr Malting (Alix), Origin Malting (Strathmore), Red Shed Malting (Penhold) and Hogarth Malt (Olds). The hops were donated by Hops Connect, and design and labels were donated by Evans Hunt and Summit Labels, respectively. Other sponsors include Crown Packaging (cans), BSG, Vessel Packaging, Connect Logistics and Alberta Barley. “Unity Brew doesn’t exist without (these sponsors),” says Berdusco. “They are vital to our industry.”

Shane Groendahl, co-founder of Lacombe’s Blindman Brewing and ASBA board member has been the head organizer of Unity Brew for the last few years. “One of the purposes is to celebrate the brewers. At beer festivals and in taprooms, people meet the sales and marketing staff while brewers toil in the brewery,” he says. “Unity Brew brings brewers together to celebrate and share ideas.”

This year’s Unity Brew is a session IPA with a quaffable 4.8% ABV. Brewed with pale two-row malt and oats (both solely from Alberta) and hopped with Citra, Vic Secret, Mosaic and Idaho 7, the beer is hoppy with an emphasis on tropical fruits. It is available on draft in the taprooms of all ASBA member breweries and select non-brewery members such as Free House (1153 Kensington Cres. N.W., Calgary;, Cilantro & Chive (5021 50 St., Lacombe and 1927 50 Ave., Red Deer;; Bo’s Bar and Grill (2310 50 Ave. # 6, Red Deer; and Beer Revolution (11736 104 Ave., Edmonton; It will also be available in 473ml cans at fine liquor retailers throughout Alberta.

Only one batch of the beer is made, so supplies are limited. If that’s not reason enough to rush out and buy the beer, “It’s just a lot of fun,” says Groendahl.