Welcome!

We have noticed a significant increase in subscribers to the blog recently and wanted to welcome you all!  We’ve had about 20 new people in the past month.  If you could tell us how you heard about the blog in the comments, we would love to know.  Thanks and we look forward to sharing more tips and adventures with you in the coming months!  Cheers!

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Saskatoon, Canada

AlcoholTourismSaskatoon

You wouldn’t think of Saskatoon, lying in the middle of the plains in Saskatchewan province, Canada, as a destination city.  It’s a small city which becomes unimaginably (to us) frigid in the winter.  Fortunately, last year and this year the University of Saskatchewan needed to hire a locum anesthesiologist during the summer, so we got to do a working holiday during the best part of the year for the city.  Although I was on call, I could take Susan around to the breweries and distilleries in town.

AlcoholTourismLBDistillery

LB Distilleries is in a warehouse district north of town is produces a wide range, though it seems aimed at a more general audience than us.

On our last visit, a wedding had just let out, flooding the tasting room with people and making us beat a hasty retreat.  Black Fox Farm is down Valley Rd. southwest of town.  It’s a small family operation just as we like. They have a great lineup of liqueurs as well as some good but expensive gin and vodka.  They were preparing for a festival when we visited, and had a couple from Calgary who produce hand made shoes and brought some along.  Susan found several that she liked and picked out a pair which was both comfortable and extremely attractive.

AlcoholTourismBlackFoxDistillery

We picked up a bottle of their Saskatoon Berry Liqueur, which is not only delicious but, obviously, hyper local.  The last non-brewery we visited was Crossmont Cidery, which was incredibly beautiful but reminded us of a high-end winery- not our usual scene.  The cider was unremarkable, so we bounced pretty quickly.

AlcoholTourismCrossmontCider

The breweries range from extremely promising to just fine.  At the top end is Prairie Sun Brewing, which produces a great range including an rich chocolatey roasty porter called Toffee 5 and a very clean farmhouse ale- Crazy Farm Ale.

AlcoholTourismPrairieSun

Paddock Wood Brewing- Saskatoon’s oldest brewery- and 9 Mile Legacy Brewing- the newest- are fine middle-of-the-road breweries with some hits and some misses.

Saskatoon Brewery is housed in Ingredients,  a high-end food market, which you would never know from the outside.  Their lineup is not very imaginative but is executed well.  It’s not a comfortable place for a pint, though, so bring a growler if possible.  Fox & Hounds is evidently a brewpub, but comes across as a dive/frat bar which is overly expensive.  Great Western is a regional/macro brewery technically made in Saskatoon, but they don’t offer tours or have any particularly interesting beers, so we’re not going to count them.

We’re not sure we would suggest you go out of your way to visit Saskatoon during the summer, but if you’re headed even vaguely in that direction, you should spend a few days there.  They have the highest per-capita restaurants in Canada, an extremely walk-friendly city, and a very respectable alcohol tourism scene.

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Blue Ridge Adventures

Last week, we went up to the Blue Ridge mountains in north Georgia with our friends.  We go to the cabins regularly.  Most of our time is usually spent relaxing, hot tub-ing, and drinking with our friends in the cabin.  There are decent wine offerings in north Georgia, but we don’t like paying for tastings (although we’re happy to buy a bottle if they waive the tasting fee).  Until recently, there were no decent beer offerings in north Georgia.  Fortunately, the times have changed.

The first beer-related enterprise we became aware of was Blue Ridge Brewery.  We went in relatively soon after it opened and were disappointed that it was a nice restaurant without their own beers.  They intended to get a license to become a brewpub, but year after year passed with no apparent progress.  Now, however, it seems like they are finally up and running.  Sadly, we didn’t learn this until after the rest of our adventures.  But it will now be on our short list to investigate.

Our first stop of the day was Grumpy Old Men Brewing.  Their motto is great, “If we don’t like it, we don’t drink it.  If we don’t drink it, we don’t sell it.”  The ambiaBlueRidgeGrumpyOldMen1nce was quite pleasant- mellow and friendly, and they had coloring books and pencils set out!  Like all Georgia breweries, they had to sell us the glass and then we could have tasting gratis.  With three IPAs on draft, it wasn’t exactly our favourite lineup, but they did have a nice seasonal milk stout.  It was a very down-to-earth comfy place we would definitely recommend.

A short stroll across town took us to Fannin Brewing Company.  The 1205151731inside area was not very cozy- it seemed designed as an outdoor sitting area type tasting room.  Their beer lineup, though, was amazing.  Almost each beer they had on tap was excellent, and they had a couple which we could not get enough of- the Hivekicker Wheat Wine and the Chocolate Rye Porter.  Sadly, we arrived late, but will definitely plan a repeat visit next time.

All in all, we are fairly impressed with the recent explosion of beer offerings in Blue Ridge.  North Carolina gets all the glory these days, but if you’re around, you should check out the north Georgia mountains.  It’s a great vacation spot, and now they have good beer!