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Beer Day at the market celebrates Alberta breweries

Deryl Empson, of St. Albert, takes a sample of one of the craft beers available at this past weekend's Farmer's Market.

On Saturday people were able to get a taste of the future at the St. Albert Farmers’ Market.

For the first time, the market celebrated “Beer Day”, featuring brewers from the Beer Factory, Bench Creek Brewing and Bent Stick Brewing. The event comes after the provincial government announced plans in August to allow craft and spirit sales at approved farmers’ markets across the province, including the one in St. Albert.

Johnathan Spilsted, head brewer of the Beer Factory in St. Albert, says they were almost sold out by 2:45 p.m. With only 15 minutes left of the day, their spirits were high.

“We had at least 200 to 300 people come by today,” says Spilsted. “People who came here were really curious about the brewing process, what makes these beers special and were looking for a bit more education on their beer.”

The local brewery brought over 60 growlers of beer and two small barrels of two of their popular beers Malty Goodness and Mosaic Hops.

“It was really neat to be able to sell beer and open up that opportunity, I think it’s going to attract people to farmers’ markets that normally wouldn’t go,” he says.

Since 2008 only Alberta’s cottage wineries have been permitted to sell at markets, but on Aug. 15 craft beer and spirits were added to the roster.

Cassandra Durocher, northern Alberta sales manager at Bench Creek, says the Edson-based brewery sold out of beer within 45 minutes of opening.

“All the breweries had a line right around the corner,” she says. “It’s definitely nice to be able to participate in markets and have this clientele. We were blown away with just how excited people were.”

They brought three flats of beer and sold them in the first hour. She says a few workers made their way to a liquor store in Edmonton that sells their beer. Within an hour they had two more flats to sell, but by 1:30 p.m. their booth was dry.

“We sold out of five-and-a-half flats, but we could’ve sold a lot more,” she says. “We had no idea how much to bring.”

Bent Stick Brewing was in a similar situation.

Scott Kendall, co-owner of Bent Stick Brewery, says the Edmonton brewery ran out of beer well before the event was to end.

A first for the brewery, Kendall says they didn’t anticipate such a great demand. They brought around 10 cases of beer.The brewery sampled one case and sold the other nine.

“We sold out around quarter to two. I guess we should expect that people are really going to like our beers, it’s hard to judge how much beer to bring to an event like this.”

Kendall says they were excited to hear about the regulation changes.

“I felt the way I always feel every day, happy to be a brewery owner. It’s nice to be able to get our beer in front of the public,” he says.

The three breweries said they have intentions to rent booths next year at the St. Albert Farmers’ Market.

Andre Sharest, a St. Albert resident, says he found a post online announcing Beer Day at the market. Grabbing a few friends, they headed to the market to get a taste of the breweries.

“It’s pretty cool, it’s good beer,” he says laughing. “We actually have plans to go [to the Beer Factory]for dinner.”

Starting next year the market will have breweries added to their list of vendors at the event.

For more information visit http://stalbertfarmersmarket.com/.

Dayla Lahring: Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.