From the Craft Beer Commonwealth
NEW GASOLINE ALLEY BREWERY IS A COLLABORATION BETWEEN BREWERS AND FARMERS
FIRST BEER, A GRAND COLLABORATION FROM CENTRAL ALBERTA BREWERS IS ALREADY AVAILABLE
Red Deer County’s newest brewery has been built from the ground up to be a truly local, collaborative showcase of the Central Alberta beer scene. A joint venture between Lacombe’s Blindman Brewing, Red Deer County’s Red Hart Brewing, and Penhold’s Red Shed Malting, Craft Beer Commonwealth will be opening in late December in the new Gasoline Alley Farmers’ Market. The ground-breaking partnership between farmers and brewers offers a true farm-to-glass experience for beer lovers who want to support Central Alberta’s agricultural roots.
Craft Beer Commonwealth lives up to its namesake with a focus on cooperation. It will not only feature beers made in its own facility in the year-round famers’ market, but there will be selections from every brewery in Central Alberta on rotation. In fact, Commonwealth’s first beer – Landlock Ale – is a joint effort between each and every Central Alberta brewery, using only ingredients grown within 10 kilometers of Red Deer!
“Local is sometimes a bit of a buzz word, but now more than ever it really means something,” says Daelyn Hamill of Red Shed Malting. “This beer is a cooperative effort between multiple local businesses. It supports the local economy, helps Alberta farmers and is a great beer to celebrate harvest!”
The brand-new recipe redefines the pale ale style with a golden hue and resinous pine flavours evoking Alberta’s fields, parkland, and mountains. “Landlock Ale is Central Alberta’s beer,” says Ben Smithson, General Manager of Commonwealth. “Not only will it be available at the Commonwealth, but it’ll be on tap at all the local breweries.”
Breweries around the world have long been using Central Alberta’s famous malt barley in their recipes for good reason: this is one of the top barley-growing regions on the planet. Recently, Alberta-grown hops have also been making a big impression in the brewing industry. It is no wonder that Central Alberta has more craft breweries per capita than anywhere else in the Province. Craft Beer Commonwealth’s mission is to showcase the region’s growing beer prowess to locals and visitors alike. When the founders heard about the new year-round farmers’ market opening in Gasoline Alley, they knew it was the perfect location for the new brewery.
“Great beer requires great raw ingredients, so you have to keep a close connection to the farming community,” says Hans Doef of Blindman Brewing. “It is so fitting that we are opening in a farmers’ market.”
In fact, Gasoline Alley Farmers’ Market is Alberta Agriculture certified – which means that at minimum 80% of the product in the market must be locally produced. Commonwealth’s hyper-local focus helps the market meet that standard. The first functional brewery within an Alberta farmers’ market, Commonwealth will be joining a number of food vendors in the ‘Market Kitchen’ area which offers a family-friendly dining area, a large patio, and a large event space overlooking the whole market. Commonwealth will eventually be hosting corporate parties, weddings, small concerts, and meetings in that space once COVID restrictions are lifted. For now, the Market Kitchen food and beverage vendors will be open extended hours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
- Craft Beer Commonwealth is the result of a ground-breaking collaboration between Red Deer’s Red Hart Brewing, Lacombe’s Blindman Brewing, and Red Deer County’s Red Shed Malting. Their shared vision is to unify and showcase the thriving Central Alberta craft beer community by brewing beer featuring local expertise and ingredients.
- Craft Beer Commonwealth’s taphouse is located within Gasoline Alley Farmers’ Market and features beverages on tap to be enjoyed at the market and available to take home in cans or growlers.
- Small-batch brewing allows professional and aspiring guest brewers to experiment with different techniques and styles, and to collaborate with other brewers and ingredient producers – even fellow market vendors.
- The rotating taps showcase the quality and variety available from Central Alberta’s finest local breweries and wineries.
- Craft Beer Commonwealth also serves espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos made with coffee roasted right onsite at the market by Birdy Coffee Co.
- With a large variety of local vendors and kitchens in the market, food-parings are a special part of the commonwealth experience.
- An exciting private function space overlooking the market is available for holiday parties, corporate meetings, weddings, and other events.
- The atmosphere is lively, family friendly and will often include live entertainment and performances during market opening hours.
- Operating hours: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from early until late.
Alberta Opposition calling for Olymel Outbreak Inquiry
From the Alberta NDP
NDP DEMANDS PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO OLYMEL OUTBREAK, CALLS FOR PROTECTION FOR WORKERS, NOT CORPORATIONS
Alberta’s NDP is demanding an immediate public inquiry into the mishandling by both the UCP government and Olymel of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at a meat-processing plant in Red Deer, and is seeking a commitment from the Minister of Justice that he will not intervene with legislation to protect potentially negligent corporations from lawsuits launched by victims’ families.
As of Wednesday, at least three Olymel employees had died as a result of the outbreak, which began in November and has seen more than 500 cases of COVID-19 confirmed to date. The NDP has also learned that three employees are currently fighting for their lives in intensive care. The Government of Alberta ignored calls for the plant to be closed, even as cases skyrocketed.
“We need to get to the bottom of who is responsible for these senseless, tragic deaths,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “People with no choice but to continue working in unsafe conditions have gotten sick and died. We need to hold those responsible accountable and develop new practices to prevent tragedies like this in the future.”
During a town hall meeting Tuesday night, UCP Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said Minister of Justice Kaycee Madu was working on legislation to eliminate liability in relation to COVID-19 illness and death for corporations and businesses
“This Government should focus on preventing workers from further injury and death, not covering up the negligence that’s already occurred around these tragedies,” Notley said. “We call on the UCP Government to reverse these plans.”
The NDP is also demanding an inquiry into the Olymel outbreak and the overall history with respect to worker safety in the meat-processing industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Olymel outbreak is now the deadliest linked to a meat-processing plant in Alberta during the pandemic. The outbreak at High River’s Cargill plant last year saw two workers die and more than 1,500 cases of COVID-19 confirmed — it remains the largest since in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Overall, while meat-packing plants have occurred in several other provinces, only in Alberta have people died, with the number currently standing at six,” Notley said.
The NDP is also supporting the call from the United Food and Commercial Workers that the Olymel plant not reopen as planned Thursday and remain closed until worker representatives are satisfied that enhanced health and safety protocols have been put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
“We find ourselves in the same crisis as we were with Cargill,” said NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray. “Albertans should remember that the UCP’s own Agriculture Minister lied to those workers and told them the plant was safe just days before the operator shut it down,”
MLA Gray previously called for a formal inquiry into the Cargill outbreak and another at the JBS plant in Brooks that saw more than 650 workers infected and one die. To date, the call for an inquiry has been ignored by the UCP.
“Clearly Jason Kenney and the UCP don’t care about the workers in these plants,” Gray added. “We know that a survey of Olymel workers found three quarters feel nervous or scared to return to work and do not trust the employer to keep them safe. As well, over half of the workers surveyed said they didn’t trust the UCP Government to keep them safe.
“How does this Premier possibly justify allowing this plant to reopen when he hasn’t done a thing to reassure these workers that they won’t become sick or potentially die?”
The NDP will also be drafting a letter to Minister of Justice Kaycee Madu that demands he rule out legislative protection for Olymel, Cargill and JBS. A class-action lawsuit has already been launched against Cargill.
“The UCP wants to let these massive, profitable corporations wash their hands of these horrific incidents and, meanwhile, grieving families of lost loved ones will see nothing but more pain and suffering,” Notley said. “This government has a long track record of backing wealthy CEOs and screwing over workers. Enough is enough.”
In the U.S., 16 states have brought in legislation or immunity provisions to protect businesses and corporations from liability related to the pandemic.
‘A frightened workforce’: Union worries as Olymel reopens after COVID-19 shutdown
RED DEER, Alta. — Some employees of a pork processing plant in central Alberta that shut down after a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility are afraid to go back to work, the union president says.
Olymel’s facility in Red Deer was shut down Feb. 15 because of the COVID-19 outbreak that claimed three lives and infected 515 workers.
The company announced late Wednesday it had been given approval to gradually reopen by Alberta Health. Slaughter operations are scheduled to resume today and cutting room operations on Friday. The plant processes about 10,000 hogs per day.
UFCW 401 president Thomas Hesse said he received no word from the company that the plant was reopening.
“Obviously the bottom line for Olymel is they’re just putting pigs ahead of people,” Hesse in an interview Wednesday.
“What you’ve got is a frightened workforce. There’s this enormous amount of fear and anxiety, and now a layer of grief on top of that, and they expect employees to jump to attention and parade back to work.”
The union represents about 1,800 workers at the plant.
Hesse said the union interviewed between 600 and 700 workers who indicated they were afraid to return to work. He said that wasn’t done by Olymel, Alberta Health Services or Occupational Health and Safety.
Hesse said he expects some workers will take advantage of their right to refuse unsafe work.
“I have no confidence in the safety of the workplace,” he said.
Olymel said the reopening will come with a number of strict measures. Alberta Health experts will be on site when operations resume and will offer rapid testing. The company said 1,370 employees at the plant have been tested since Jan. 1.
The company says it has added more space to the facility to enhance physical distancing.
Additional staff have been assigned to monitor and enforce the updated measures, Olymel said. Employee groups have been recalled to take part in training sessions covering all implemented health measures, adjustments and the action plan developed for reopening.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021.
— By Bill Graveland in Calgary
The Canadian Press
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