Blind Enthusiasm takes top prize at Alberta's first beer awards

One of Edmonton’s newest breweries has won the top prize in the inaugural Alberta craft beer awards. Blind Enthusiasm netted the brewery of the year award this week at a convention in Calgary.

Edmonton's Blind Enthusiasm wins brewery of the year award

Blind Enthusiasm owner Greg Zeschuck holds the prize for top brewery in the province at the Alberta Craft Brewing Convention. (Neil Zeller)

One of Edmonton's newest breweries has taken top prize in the inaugural Alberta craft beer awards.

Blind Enthusiasm netted the brewery of the year award this week at a convention in Calgary.

One of Edmonton's oldest craft breweries, Alley Kat, came in second.

The winning brewery has been open for about eight months, while Alley Kat has been operating for 23 years.

Terry Rock, executive director of Alberta Small Brewers Association, said the awards are a good reflection of the province's high-quality craft beer industry.

"We've got some really, really great quality beer in our history but also in our future," Rock told CBC News.

A total of 58 breweries from around the province entered 314 beers in 22 categories.

Blind Enthusiasm got a gold medal for its OKT in the "amber beer" category, a gold for its ZuS in the "wheat beer" category, a gold for its Acme Red in the "other strong hoppy beer" category and a bronze for its Street Beat Pollen Wheat in the "other flavoured beer."

All of that added up to winning the brewery of the year award. 
A total of 58 breweries entered 314 beers in 22 categories at the Alberta Craft Brewing Convention last week. (Neil Zeller)

​"They've really, really — in putting that brewery together — have a very clear understanding of what they're trying to accomplish," Rock said of Blind Enthusiasm. "To make sure that they're able to execute great beers."

Greg Zeschuk, owner of Blind Enthusiasm and Biera brew pub, said they weren't expecting the top accolades.

"Like many brewers, we all tend to be pretty confident we make good beer but [the award] was just a shock and an absolute honour." 

The awards were given out at the end of the second annual Alberta Craft Brewing Convention.

"The level of creativity and artistry that's going into these beers shows that people aren't just brewing the basics," Rock said. 

The number of breweries opening up in the province has spiked in the past two years and a crowd of hundreds of people at the convention reflects the expanding industry. 

"You had a really big mixture of brand new breweries winning, and super veterans like Big Rock, Alley Kat and Wild Rose. The demonstration of quality across the board was very, very high."

Troubled Monk from Red Deer and Blindman Brewing from Lacombe tied for third place in the brewery of the year award.

The number of Alberta breweries doubled in 2016-2017 and now sits at 75.

@natashariebe