Wunderbar! Maple Creek’s Rafter R Brewing Company can lay claim to one of the best beers in Canada – Rauchbier.
The smoked German brew wowed the judges at the 19th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference in Québec City, Québec. They awarded Rafter R a silver medal in the smoked beer category.
Uncle Leo’s Brewery in Nova Scotia took gold with Uncle Leo’s Smoked Porter, while Edmonton’s Town Square Brewing picked up bronze for Prairie Fire Rauchbier.
“We are pretty pumped about the award,” said Ryan Moncrieff, who runs Rafter R brewery with wife, Teresa.
“It’s validation for a lot of hard work, and a lot of hours. It’s a pat on the back and will make us work even harder.”
Rafter R’s success comes shortly after it marked one year since opening its doors in Maple Creek.
The national awards are open to Canadian majority-owned breweries of all sizes and are sanctioned by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).
Blind tasting determines the best beers in 56 style categories, with medals being recognized as a symbol of Canadian brewing excellence.
Rafter R submitted six bottles of each beer in six categories: Blonde Ale; English Dark; Berliner Weisse; Red Ale; Oatmeal Stout; and Rachbier.
Unfortunately, the Moncrieffs were unable to attend the September 16-18 event at the Hilton Québec, a 4-star hotel across the street from the Old City – a UNESCO World Heritage site.
However, they followed a live stream of the September 18 awards ceremony after being tipped off that they were in the running for an award.
“I was serving when I heard the news that we had won,” said Ryan. “It was amazing. I was watching a computer while pouring wine and serving beer flights.”
Ryan said his proud parents, Grant and Sharon, were also watching.
“They were ecstatic to find out we had won,” he said.
Ryan is no stranger to brewing accolades.
Before coming to Maple Creek, he spent five years at Ribstone Creek Brewery in Edgerton, east central Alberta, three-and-a-half of them as head brewer, playing a key role in producing award-winning beer. One of the medals the brewery won was gold – a huge honour, of course, although Ryan rates his trophy with Rafter R as “double extra special”.
“It’s 100 per cent ours,” he said. “It’s a nice exclamation point.”
Ryan initially produced 50 litres of his 5.7% Rauchbier. He wanted feedback from customers, before deciding whether to make more.
“It’s not the most mainstream beer,” he said. “People tend to have a very visceral reaction – they either love it or hate it.”
Fortunately, the lovers easily outnumbered the haters, and a winning brew resulted.
Ryan, who expects to receive his trophy in the next few weeks, is already looking forward to next year’s awards ceremony – in Calgary.
He intends entering again, and this time he will attend. He has already has a goal.
“I would love to upgrade the silver to gold.”
Here is what the Canadian Brewing Awards style guidelines say about smoked beer:
A smoke-enhanced beer showing good balance between the smoke and beer character, while remaining pleasant to drink. Balance in the use of smoke, hops and malt character is exhibited by the better examples. Smoke aroma and flavour may vary from low to assertive; however, balance in the overall presentation is the key to well-made examples. The quality and secondary characteristics of the smoke are reflective of the source of the smoke. Sharp, phenolic, harsh, rubbery, or burnt smoke-derived aromatics are inappropriate. Smoke can add some dryness to the finish.
Intrigued? Why not order a Rauchbier during your next visit to Rafter R brewery?