Alley Kat Brewing Company chooses local
According to senior brewer Chase Gordon, Alley Kat Brewing Company likes to buy local, “as much as possible.”
“We’re a small Alberta company as well,” he said, so when Alley Kat brews a coffee porter, for example, they buy their beans from Transcend, another Edmonton-based company.
That buy local habit extends to their barley and wheat. Much of their grain is sourced within Alberta, including a significant amount of barley malt from Rahr Malting Co. and some from Canada Malting.
“For barley especially, we grow great malting barley in Alberta,” Gordon said. “It’s a good base malt.”
For specialty brews they’ll sometimes reach outside of provincial and national borders. They used German malts for their recent Oktoberfest beer so they could achieve an authentic taste of the country.
Alberta malt is mostly of the pale variety, which “produces a fairly light flavour,” Gordon said.
That light flavour can be found in Alley Kat’s award-winning Scona Gold Kolsch. The beer—made with pilsner malt from Canada Malting—won two awards, including beer of the year, at the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards.
Scona Gold is one of five beers that are always being brewed at Alley Kat’s Edmonton facility. The other four are their Aprikat apricot wheat ale, Amber ale, Main Squeeze grapefruit wheat ale and Full Moon IPA.
The family-owned business does limited runs of a variety of specialty beers, such as their Pumpkin Pie Spiced Ale or their recent Oktoberfest offering. Alley Kat also has its Dragon Series—limited runs of double IPA brews.
Gordon estimated Alley Kat would probably brew about 800,000 litres of beer in 2015. If they bottled every last litre, that’d be 2.4 million bottles, Gordon said. But they offer growlers and kegs as well.
That much beer means a lot of barley, relatively speaking, for the small brewery.
“I think we’ll probably this year go through 125 tonnes, which feels like a lot to us,” Gordon said. He estimated slightly less wheat would be used, about 100 tonnes.
These volumes of barley and wheat represent growth for the company, Gordon said, and they are installing silos to store their grains in the future.
The brewery is owned and operated by Neil and Lavonne Herbst and has been in business in the same location in Edmonton for 20 years.
While the company is still in the same place where it started, more bays have been added over the years to accommodate growth, Gordon said.
He started with Alley Kat eight years ago doing deliveries and bottling while going to school, learning the brewing trade on site.
“We’ve been slowly growing,” Gordon said. That growth has sped up in the last five years, as the craft beer revolution has spread in Alberta, combined with an increasing interest in buying local, he added.