Innovation Unites Saskatoon Berries and Craft Beer

Canada has a long history in beer-making and agriculture. Both have changed over the past three decades. While Canadians are drinking less beer overall, the market for craft beers is rapidly growing.

During the early 1990s, I was completely turned off of beer because of the bleak options available in Canada. Then I was introduced to innovative, great tasting beers when I was travelling in Austria. After that trip in 2007, I discovered the very active Canadian craft brewery movement. This type of brewing is the intersection between art and science providing unique and delicious tasting experiences, not just construction and commercialization.

The Rise of Craft Beer
Craft beer is made in smaller batches and comes in a variety of flavours. It’s exciting to see brewers create something new and delicious that you’ve never heard of. Because it is made in small batches, the brew master has the flexibility to experiment with and be inspired by new flavours, colours, different levels of hops and formulas to quickly respond to consumer demand. Orest Horechko of Fort Garry Brewing Company in Winnipeg, Manitoba explains, “We have a young brew team under our brew master Matt Wolff. We are able to create new beers every few months. This ability to innovate and adapt to our customers’ preferences builds a distinct loyalty with our consumer base. We pride ourselves on using local ingredients and distinct flavours. On the fruit and seasonal side, we have developed both raspberry and pumpkin beers that were very popular. This summer season, it’s time to shine the spotlight on homegrown Saskatoon berries.”

Saskatoon Berries Meet Craft Beer
This is where Canadian Prairie Garden (CPG) Saskatoon Berry aseptic puree comes in to assist Fort Garry Brewing Company with their new flavour this season. Saskatoon berries are well known for their deep purple-red colour and health benefits, including high antioxidants and fibre. Plus, they have a unique earthy, slightly wild flavour. Because of their thick skin and seeds, Saskatoon berries don’t break down the same way other berries, such as blueberries, do. CPG’s innovative processing technique achieves a smooth puree without a seedy, tough texture making the berries ideal in baked goods, smoothies, yogurts and of course jams, jellies, fruit preserves and syrups. And now, craft beer!

Horechko assures me the Fort Garry Brewing Company’s new Saskatoon berry beer provides a refreshing, thirst-quenching, flavourful experience, perfect to enjoy on the patio, at the neighbourhood BBQ and following an afternoon of yard work. I look forward to tasting it.

The Future of Fruit Flavoured Craft Beers
People are looking for something more than a basic lager or pale ale. Plus, drinking tastes continue to evolve and diversify. Fruit flavoured beers appeal to foodie customers who are seeking out different and more interesting tastes to pair beer with food (from appetizers to desserts). The continued popularity of specialty beers is paving the way for a new crop of craft beer-makers, like the team at Fort Gary Brewing Company, using local ingredients including CPG’s Saskatoon berries to be enjoyed by food lovers.

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Jane Dummer, RD (www.janedummer.com), known as the "Pod to Plate" Food Consultant, collaborates with the food and nutrition industry across North America.