Wine and cheese, champagne and oysters, beer and sausages… some food and drink pairings are classics for good reason. Enjoying a plateful of sausage with a cold one has been a favoured pastime in countless cultures (perhaps most famously, German) for centuries. Though traditional, the pairing hasn’t gotten old—all across Canada, there are great breweries crafting hearty ales, and sausage-makers producing rich and interesting links to accompany them, and it seems Albertans are leading the charge.
To begin, in Yellowhead County, about 200 kilometres west of Edmonton, Bench Creek Brewing makes a handful of ales that warm the winter belly. Their rich Black Spruce porter is a favourite, and it pairs wonderfully with spicy sausages, of which there are no shortage of options from Missing Link Extraordinary Sausage. Located in the Calgary Farmer’s Market, the company specializes in chicken sausages, but has branched out into inventive, fun iterations that include lamb as well. To pair with Bench Creek’s porter, try the Fiery Merguez (a traditional South African style of lamb sausage containing harissa paste and red pepper), or the Redneck S**t Kicker, a chicken sausage that gets its “kick” from the addition of whisky and chipotle peppers.
Heading further south, to Red Deer, craft beer champs Troubled Monk use local barley to make an award-winning American brown ale, Open Road. It finds a good friend in a sausage with some smoke to it. If you love smoke (as do I—pairing smoked sausage with smoked mustard and smoked beer quite happily), Edmonton’s Will Kotowicz is the maker to know. He and his partners Peter Keith and Glendon Tan have launched a carnivore’s take on a curated subscription box called the Secret Meat Club. Among his range of rarified cold-smoked charcuteries is this gem: the Maras pepper salami cotto, which is fermented with Turkish Maras peppers and smoked in a semi-dry style. Heavy and rich American brown ales like Open Road make the perfect companion, here.
Down in Turner Valley, approximately 60 kilometres from Calgary, Brauerei Fahr have been making a name for themselves in the Alberta beer scene with brewmaster and owner Jochen Fahr,’s award-winning trio of traditional German-style brews. His A Little Too Fahr pilsner is a marriage of both Bohemian and German style—an old technique but a novelty in Canada. The subtle spicy and floral characteristics of this beer complement a traditional German bratwurst perfectly. Illichmann’s Sausage Shop in Calgary is a family-owned and -operated business, having been purchased by a couple in 1971, who passed it down to their son and his wife in 1999. All of their products are handmade, including their spice blends. Here is where you’ll find a classic, full-flavoured German bratwurst to munch on while sipping your German pilsner.
Heading even further south, we end up at Coulee Brew Co. in Lethbridge. In addition to their main line-up, they’ve developed a Belgian-style tripel called Angel’s Demise. This strong golden ale’s bready malt notes and honey-like sweetness cleanse the palate after rich seafood sausages. Seafood sausage may not be something you see every time you stop into the market, but up in Edmonton, Alberta’s capital, Effing Seafood’s Rob Tryon is crafting some seriously delicious links. Having grown up with a commercial fisherman father, Tryon’s not afraid to get his hands dirty (or wet), going straight to the source for his seafood. His salmon or sturgeon sausages demand a decadent beer; a Belgian tripel is just what the doctor ordered.
Bench Creek Black Spruce porter—Missing Link Extraordinary Sausage Fiery Merguez or Redneck S**t Kicker
Troubled Monk Open Road American brown ale—Secret Meat Club Maras pepper salami cotto
Brauerei Fahr A Little Too Fahr pilsner—Illichmann’s Sausage Shop bratwurst
Coulee Brewing Angel’s Demise tripel—Effing Seafood salmon sausage
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