The Common opened its doors 10 years ago with the goal to create a space to experience food, music, and the Edmonton culture.
As a multifaceted space that goes from lunch to dinner to drinks to venue and so much in between, beer has always been on the docket.
With craft breweries putting out an amazing wide variety of beers produced in our own backyard, trying to bring Edmonton a taste of the awesome Canadian beers crafted by passionate entrepreneurs close to home became a new goal.
In early 2018 Vancouver’s Parallel 49 invited one of The Common’s owners and beer enthusiast, Rob Clarke, to head to Vancouver to collaborate on an IPA. After years of Parallel 49 brews on tap at The Common, stepping into the brewery and experiencing the brewing process was amazing. The 9910 Problems Hazy IPA launched in February and the Common Craft collaboration program was born.
Since this first brew The Common has had the honor to brew one-off craft creations with a handful of Alberta breweries including: Situation Brewing, Town Square Brewing Co, Bent Stick Brewing, Ribstone Creek Brewery, Blindman Brewing, Seachange Brewing Co, Analog Brewing, Grizzly Paw Brewing Co. , and Alley Kat Brewing Company. Then rounding out an amazing year and a half of awesome brews, the Common beer crew headed back out to Parallel 49 to brew another collaboration, this time The Common Ground Hazy Citrus Pale Ale.
The Common Craft Collaboration program has been an amazing learning opportunity for The Common and its staff; learning how beers are made, seeing where our beer is coming from, and the faces behind the brews. So much passion goes into beer and its been an amazing experience understanding the who and how behind the beers we bring into The Common! Looking forward to more awesome collaborations, but first a look back on our past collaborations, and the breweries and community partners involved in them!
(Post Brewery tour beers at Situation)
The first Edmonton based Common Craft Collaboration was with the brew-pub Situation Brewing. This was the first brewery our crew had the chance to visit and tour, the beginning of our beer education. Having their microbrewery attached to their Whyte Ave restaurant had always been an eye-catching space to pass by, but walking through the process beside the tanks and having the opportunity to ask questions was brilliant. The Unhoppy Saison was launched in April, a sessionable beer with notes of lemon and pine to ease into spring.
(Nik Kozub pouring grain at Blindman Brewing. Picture by Paul Swanson)
Town Square opened their doors in September 2017, to craft big flavoured brews in south east Edmonton. Seven months later we would collaborate with the new brewery on a saison, along with The Common’s pal and home brewer Nik Kozub. The Third Haromic Saison launched in June. This brew launched the idea for Kozub to take his passion and hobby to a new level, where he would go on to collaborate with a variety of Alberta breweries, taking his amazing award winning recipes to a larger scale. The name for this initial brew, Third Harmonic, would become his beer tag. Months after the saison launched the Common beer crew reversed their role and tagged along on his brew with Blindman Brewing, the Lacombe brewery with a focus on brewing with local ingredients and supporting their community.
(The Common Crew touring Bent Stick Brewing)
Bent Stick is a nano-brewery based out of Edmonton, started by 4 beer lovers with the focus to create awesome experimental beers, they brew 400 liters at a time nano style! For our collaboration with Bent stick we tied in The Wet Secrets, an Edmonton based indie band. The result: the Hopstache ISA, an amber hop-forward brew. As a music venue The Common has loved Edmonton based talent and booked it since the beginning, having the passion for beer meet the passion for local music to create an amazing brew was a win win situation.
(Post Brew day. Picture by Paul Swanson)
For our fifth collaboration brew we drove out to Edgerton, Alberta, a small town (population ~384) close to the Alberta-Saskatchewan boarder to brew a small batch brew with Ribstone Creek. Our Common Crew member, Kelsey Brown brought along her favourite home brewing recipe, and the brewers at Ribstone creek adapted it for their test brewing system. With large 60 hex tanks on location, breweries have small systems to test and hone new recipes. It’s a smaller scale and allows more creativity without the worry that the brew wont be turn out how expected. We crafted the Red Umbrella Amber Ale with the Ribstone crew, an American Stye Red Ale that showcased notes of grapefruit, citrus, and herbs complimented by notes of biscuit and whole grain cracker produced from the malt bill.
(The Common Crew checking out the Sea Change location with Oliver Apt.)
In August 2018 the Common Crew headed to the south side with some of The Oliver Apt. Design Studio friends to check out Sea Change Brewing’s space. Still a work in progress the new Edmonton brewery was working on getting their taproom finished and their brew space functioning. They had already been contract brewing their flagship Blonde Ale for about a year, but were getting close to begin brewing in their own space. The owners of Sea Change were working to create an awesome space, doing most of the work themselves (Their thought process: We want a concrete bar top. Better google how to make and pour it). After stepping foot in a number of breweries, to see one forming from the ground up and the vision behind it put things into perspective. Especially for the Oliver Apt. Design studio crew who work on creating timeless and functional spaces and furniture on the day to day. Together with the brewery and design crew, the Foolish Craftsmen Saison was crafted.
(Steamy mid-Peach Pie Saison brewing shot)
Our latest 3 pronged collaboration, brought The Common together with Edmonton brewery, Analog, and United Bass Kollective (UBK), a group of artists centred around their passion for bass music. Analog began in early 2018 with a focus on easy drinking sessionable beers tying in a geek chic aesthetic based in their love for classic video games, sci fi, and board games (all of which can be found in their tap room)! 9910, the venue owned by and located under The Common, has been stocking Analog in their coolers since the breweries cans were on the market. 9910 often hosts shows with UBK, and so it was an awesome time to bring these two Edmonton entities together to craft a crushable Peach Pie Saison.
(Tasting different levels of Raspberry notes in The Raspbeary Beret)
The Common has had Alley Kat beer on since it opened its doors 10 years ago, to work with one of Edmonton’s original breweries was an exciting project. The collaboration began with a brewery tour and taste testing of their seasonal beers, and some classics, as we discussed where we wanted to take the collaboration. Wanting to try something new, and with the beer set to launch in spring we settled on a sour beer. We threw a lot of ideas around, thinking of possible notes of rhubarb, Himalayan salt, coriander, that we decided against in favour of a cleaner raspberry focused brew. In these discussions Alley Kat was awesome at explaining how these flavours and aspects of the beer can be achieved (ex. when you include ingredients with longer chains of sugar, the mouth feel of the beer increases). The Raspbeary Beret Raspberry Sour, named after the golden bear that hangs in The Common (our unofficial mascot), launched in March.
(Sampling the Velvet Elvis Mid-brew. Picture by Paul Swanson)
In March we headed out to Canmore to brew with The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company. Rising early with the trains, the Common crew headed to the breweries original downtown Canmore location, a classic brew pub style, with a small microbrewery in the back. It was a great brewing experience in which our crew got very hands on, especially enjoying the tank cleaning process! After brewing we headed over to their new location, a massive beautiful location that puts out the majority of the beer and soda products. A gorgeous feature of this larger brewery, the massive windows that look out from the brew space right onto the mountains! The Velvet Elvis Dark Lager launched in April, a crushable beer that drinks like a lager, with the colour and chocolate notes of a porter, as malts normally found in porters were included in the brew.
(Touring the Parallel 49 Brewery)
Parallel 49 was started by a passionate group of home-brewers and in its less than 10 years of brewing, the Vancouver brewery has grown exponentially while remaining true to their vision to craft cleaver and innovative brews. In our time at the brewery we toured the massive space, climbed to the top of giant lager tones (lager has a longer brewing time as it has to ferment longer), dropped the hops, sampled our brew in progress to taste how to profile was turning out, and tried many of their 30+ beers on tap!
From the beginning of stepping foot into craft breweries, the Common crew has learned a ton and come to appreciate beer on another level. Touching base and working with breweries in our community has been a brilliant opportunity that has given us great insight and connection with the people on the other end of beer. We pour it, they brew it. Looking forward to more awesome collab brews to come!
Friday August 30th, we will be launching a birthday tap takeover with a beer from each of our collaborating partners in celebration of 10 years of The Common and an awesome year and a half of Common Craft Collaboration brews!
By Clare Rolf