Alberta is home to more than 100 unique craft breweries, the majority of which are located in the city of Calgary and the provincial capital, Edmonton. The number of breweries has grown exponentially since 2013, when Alberta experienced a craft beer boom following legislative changes by Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) that made owning and operating a microbrewery far more accessible.
Founded in 1995, well before the boom, Alley Kat Brewing is an Alberta original. Having celebrated its 25th birthday in 2020, Alley Kat is the oldest microbrewery in Edmonton and the 4th oldest in all of Alberta.
Located on 60th Ave in NW Edmonton, this brewery was originally launched by local Edmontonians Neil and Lavonne Herbst. In February 2020 the brewery was purchased by Cam French and Zane Christensen, two childhood friends from St. Albert, Alberta.
Accountants by trade, Cam and Zane had been looking for opportunities to transition into the craft brew industry, and found Alley Kat to be a good fit. According to original founder Neil Herbst, who has remained involved with the day-to-day at Alley Kat, keeping the brewery local
was a key part of the decision. “At a time when we are seeing some craft breweries being absorbed by large multinationals, keeping Alley Kat in independent hands was extremely important to us,” said Neil in 2020. “This sale ensures Alley Kay continues to remain locally owned and operated” (Alley Kat Blog, February 2020).
Since taking over the brewery, Cam and Zane have continued to focus on the foundations laid by the Herbst’s, including furthering sustainable, environmentally friendly practices wherever possible and keeping close ties with the community. In an effort to minimize their footprint as much as possible, Alley Kat looks for ways to recycle, repurpose and reduce waste throughout all stages of brewing and distribution. “From a social consciousness perspective, we know how important it is to do our part,” says Cam, “Alley Kat will always look out for the good of our customers and our environment.”
Alley Kat’s environmental practices include repurposing their spent grain, the product leftover once flavor and sugar has been extracted from their mash, by donating it to Edmonton’s Four Whistle Farm to be used as livestock feed. The brewery is also powered by Bullfrog Energy, which allows them to offset their electricity use with green energy, reducing their overall carbon footprint. Furthermore, everything that can be recycled is recycled throughout the process, and the owners continue to stress the importance of recycling the iconic Alley Kat can once it is empty.
Alley Kat Brewery has and continues to be a dedicated member of the community in Edmonton and across Alberta. Most recently, the brewery announced a partnership with the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) in support of local teams, including the Sherwood Park Crusaders, Olds Grizzlys, Whitecourt Wolverines, Drayton Valley Thunder and the Bonnyville Pontiacs. $1 from each 6-pack of Alley Kat Blonde Ale will go towards helping cover travel, meal and equipment expenses for the young athletes.
“I played hockey for Drayton Valley growing up,” says Cam, “so this is a great way to give back and help these players have the same experiences I did.”
After an exciting – if not somewhat trying – first year at Alley Kat Brewing, Cam and Zane are excited for the remainder of 2021. Fans of Alley Kat and Canmore’s Grizzly Paw Brewing can look forward to a collaboration beer, coming soon in honor of 25 years for both breweries.
A new Alley Kat “Summer Fling” mixed pack, featuring 3 new beers will be coming out soon as well, just in time for patio season, and their annual summer seasonal beer will be released on April 1st!
For more information on Alley Kat Brewing, visit https://www.alleykatbeer.com
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
Reducing funding for RCMP on the table for Saskatchewan amid firearm buyback debate
REGINA — Saskatchewan says it would consider reducing its funding for the RCMP if the force was to help the federal government with its proposed firearms buyback program.
Public Safety Minister Christine Tell says all options are on the table, signalling the province will not help Ottawa collect guns it has banned.
“We as a province fund the RCMP to a tune of 70 per cent, so it could even get more interesting,” Tell said Thursday.
The Saskatchewan Party government said it is pushing back to protect law-abiding firearms owners from what it views as federal intrusion on its provincial autonomy.
Under Ottawa’s proposed firearms buyback program, it would be mandatory for people to have their assault-style firearms rendered inoperable or have them discarded. That could also include centrefire semi-automatic rifles or shotguns designed to accept a detachable magazine that can hold more than five cartridges.
In response, Saskatchewan has introduced its own firearms act to forbid municipalities and police services from receiving federal money to help confiscate firearms.
The proposed law says a municipality, police service or board would have to get written approval from the province’s public safety minister before agreeing to support the federal buyback program.
It also states that Saskatchewan’s chief firearms officer would enforce which federal agent can or cannot confiscate firearms in the province.
“These legal firearm owners are not the ones committing the crimes,” Tell said.
The legislation was tabled Thursday, months after Tell wrote a letter to Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore, the head of Saskatchewan’s RCMP. It stated that the province would not support the Mounties using provincially funded resources to help confiscate firearms.
Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick have sent similar letters to their RCMP forces. They have joined Saskatchewan in asking Ottawa to not use up “scarce RCMP and municipal resources” for its buyback program.
In October, Blackmore said Mounties are service providers, not decision-makers, and any decisions over the buyback program are between the federal and provincial governments.
“As the service provider, we would be the individuals that get our information from them,” Blackmore told The Canadian Press.
That includes if additional resources would be needed by RCMP once the buyback program rolls out.
“It would depend on the level of expectation, and what that looks like, and what the involvement is if there are additional resources,” Blackmore said.
The specific role of the RCMP and the details surrounding the buyback program have not been determined.
On Friday, the Saskatchewan RCMP said it will continue to prioritize front-line services and the safety of communities is its highest priority.
The Saskatchewan Firearms Act also calls for helping firearm owners get fair market value for guns collected through the buyback program and would require all seized firearms to go through forensic and ballistic testing.
The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, which advocates for hunters and the protection of the province’s hunting heritage, praised the proposed act, saying it would mitigate the “draconian” federal legislation.
There are approximately 115,000 licensed firearms owners in Saskatchewan, 75,000 of whom may be penalized under the federal government’s policy. That’s about 10 per cent of Saskatchewan’s adult population, the province said.
Saskatchewan’s NDP Opposition has stood united with the government to denounce the program.
“It does not strike the right balance for Saskatchewan,” justice critic Nicole Sarauer said last week in the legislature.
“These amendments are overbroad and capture rifles that have legitimate uses for both hunters and producers in Saskatchewan.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2022.
Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press
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