Red, white and brew
Chris Coombs is a finalist in the Innis & Gunn’s Imagine & Gunn contest to come up with a limited edition Canada-inspired beer. Online voting closes Nov. 24. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
Chris Coombs has never brewed beer on his own, but he could soon become the inspiration for a beer to be in liquor stores across Canada.
The Camrose resident is one of eight finalists for Innis & Gunn’s Imagine & Gunn contest. The contest gathered more than 1,000 suggestions for a limited edition Canada-inspired beer, using ingredients that are unique to this country.
Coombs recommendation of a maple and Saskatoon berry porter has him in the final vote.
“Maple and Saskatoon berries have been a staple of the Prairies since the beginning of time and, from my personal experience, they go well with pretty much anything, whether they are on desserts or savoury items,” he said.
“You get the subtle sweetness of a Saskatoon and the maple flavour that is familiar to everyone, and then a porter has some nice coffee notes to it, so it will be a nice balance of some savoury and sweet flavours.”
If Coombs, 29, wins he will receive an all-expense paid trip to the Scotland brewery where he will get to work with Innis & Gunn founder and master brewer Dougal Gunn Sharp to perfect the recipe over four days, as well as some walking around change. The winning beer will be released in the fall.
“It would be my equivalent of going to Disneyland, it would be once in a life time,” he said.
He is up against seven other suggestions including a rye barrel-aged Saskatoon berry saison, a black IPA with coconut and rhubarb, a cloudberry peach sour, Caribbean rum cask-aged pineapple wit, rum raisin porter, rye and ginger ale, and smoked applewood amber ale.
Coombs, born in Calgary but raised in Camrose, says he never actually thought he would make it this far. He stumbled across an ad for the contest on Instagram and entered on a lark. A few weeks later he was contacted by contest organizers alerting him of his finalist status.
“I didn’t expect to get as far as I am now,” he said.
Coombs has never actually brewed beer before, though he has looked into the home kits. He has always left the hard work to the professionals, however, saying he prefers darker beers. His favourite is a Newcastle Brown Ale.
While he says has not met a beer he does not like – though he is not a big fan of IPA – the perfect beer is more about the experience.
“It’s got to have tons of flavour for me and because I gravitate more towards porters and stouts, a bit of a heavier beer. It’s something that’s a little more to work through than a can of Canadian. It’s something a little more enjoyable. You can savour it.”
Voting is by online ballot at www.innisandgunn.com and poles close on Nov. 24.