Reaching to become one of the world’s highest rated beers is all in the name for Banded Peak’s gold medal winning Summit Seeker English IPA.
The beer, which is one of the staples of one of Calgary’s most recognized barley district breweries, recently took home the gold medal in English style IPAs at the Canadian leg of the World Beer Awards.
The beer is now on its way to London, England where it will compete against some of the top global craft breweries. Last year, Brazil’s Colorado brewery took the top worldwide prize for their Indica English style IPA.
“Winning the country was obviously very exciting, and going to worlds we’re hoping for the best,” said Alex Horner, Banded Peak co-founder and head brewer.
“It’s just a reflection of the hard work that the team put in, and it’s something that you you kind of get to show off.”
Among the other medal winning beers for the brewery during the Canadian leg was silver for their Plainsbreaker Wheat Ale, and three bronze medals for their Microburst Hazy IPA, Southern Aspect IPA, and Mount Crushmore Pilsner.
Horner said it was a reflection of the hard work that Banded Peak has put in over the past six years to create good beer for Calgarians.
“We’ve been hard at work here at the brewery for a long time, and it’s awesome to get some recognition for it,” he said.
“It’s awesome to be able to share that with our customers who support us, and it’s awesome to be able to show that off both in the tap room and when we’re out in the market.”
The World Beer Award winners for 2022 are set to be announced on Aug. 25.
Summit Seeker one of the first beers designed by Banded Peak
Horner said that when Banded Peak was opened in 2016, one of the things the trio of founders did was to travel to more mature beer markets to learn as much as they could about the industry.
At the time, he said, Calgary was a number of years behind places like Portland, San Diego, and Vancouver in terms of the craft beer scene.
“We spent a bit of time travelling down there trying new beers, and we learned as much as we could and took that back to Calgary,” Horner said.
“We saw that there were some big gaps, especially when it came to IPAs and hoppier offerings, so we really wanted to design something that had both bitterness hop flavour and hop aroma.”
He said they also sought to use local Alberta ingredients as well.
“We grow some of the best barley in the world just outside of the city, so we wanted to find a beer that could capture that hoppy, aromatic, flavourful style of IPA that we knew was booming and everybody in craft [beer] loved.”
He said using that Alberta barley gave it a roasted malt characteristic, which combined to make a beer the brewery was proud of.
Beer industry in Calgary catching up with rest of the world
Horner said that there is a bit of a friendly rivalry between breweries in the city, especially as the number of breweries has grown since the mid-2010s.
"We make a product that people are quite excited about, and it's a very social product," he said.
"So I spend a lot of time out in market visiting other breweries, having conversations with other brewers and I love to see variety, I love to see different things, people trying new ideas.
"That absolutely pushes us, because as the market matures and our customers develop, they're going to start expecting more from us, especially as they can go get other beers in the market."
The difficulty to market beers is increasing, but isn't necessarily bad for brewers or consumers said Horner.
"I think that's a good thing for us as brewers push us to make us better, and also as consumers because now we have more fun and interesting things to drink," he said.
For more details on Banded Peak Brewing, and their beers, see bandedpeakbrewing.com.