Thank you, Ryan Jespersen: Tapping the West and the Alberta craft beer boom

“He kind of sounded like he was shouting at you,” said one friend who listened to this recent interview. He was joking, but the observation speaks to the enthusiasm with which Ryan Jespersen approaches pretty much any topic he covers – including Alberta craft beer. I think it’s great.

Many thanks to him for having me on the show in early May to talk about my book, Tapping the West, and about some of the factors that went into making the province’s craft beer industry possible. And awesome.

Definitely something worth shouting about, I’d say.

Thank you, Avenue Edmonton: An interview about Tapping the West

If someone’s willing to think of me as an artist for having a written a book about beer, I’ll take it! Thanks to Avenue Edmonton and writer Cory Schachtel for this interview in the May issue of the magazine.

“The book is about the beer scene, but it’s also about business diversification in Alberta. And to me, that’s something that the craft beer industry represents.”

Thank you, CBC Edmonton AM: Tapping the West and the state of Alberta’s craft beer industry

Not to make excuses for myself, but I’m about to make excuses for myself. This one was done at 6:40 in the morning, long after I’d switched over to keeping work-from-home pandemic hours. How does Mark Connolly and his team do it everyday? Cheers to them!

I’m grateful for the interview, no matter what I might have said. (I can’t bring myself to go back and listen – something to do with the idea of having to listen to my own voice, perhaps.)

Thank you, Canadian Beer News: Announcing the release of Tapping the West

I’m very grateful to Canadian Beer News, an online voice for beer industry developments across the country, for sharing news of the upcoming release of my new book, Tapping the West.

The book officially launches May 5, and is available at local bookstores (like Audreys in Edmonton, which offers curbside pickup) and online at Amazon and Indigo.

Homebrewing in the time of COVID-19

With a book coming out, and no chance of a launch anytime soon thanks to the pandemic, I was asked by my publisher to pull back the curtain on what I was up to at home these days. Here’s the big reveal.

This blog post doesn’t have a lot to do with Tapping the West: How Alberta’s Craft Beer Industry Bubbled Out of an Economy Gone Flat (now available for pre-order!). Writing it, however, got me thinking about the potential for COVID-19 to teach us something about ourselves. If this thing doesn’t kill us, it might indeed make us stronger somehow.

And if the proof doesn’t turn up in the pudding, maybe it will in the homebrew.

Why a blanket exercise made me disappointed, uncomfortable and angry

As participants in the blanket exercise that was to come, we were told that we’d likely need the boxes of tissues being set out for us. It was a way of being told we weren’t ready to hear the things we were about to learn. Colonialism, our facilitator said, was “a brutal history.”

I’m ashamed to say that I really had no idea. This exercise helped me learn. Please read more at techlifetoday.ca.

Gotta Run: My complicated and sometimes troubling relationship with running and racing

This story originally appeared in Eighteen Bridges, a Canadian magazine of narrative journalism. Sorry that all the pictures are of me. It’s all I had at hand and long reads aren’t any fun without pics, so there you go.


Near the halfway point, the trail became almost impassable. It was only a 10-kilometre race, but its dirt trail made it treacherous from the start. Within minutes of leaving the starting line, I plunged into the tangle of poplar, chokecherry, cranberry and dogwood that carpets the banks of Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River. The late summer days had coaxed gorgeous reds and purples and yellows from the foliage, but who cared?

All that mattered was the linear metre of earth directly ahead, laced with roots and studded with stones. For two-and-a-half kilometres, the course rose and fell like river rapids, twisting and bucking capriciously. More than 370 runners were at its mercy. None got any.

Continue reading Gotta Run: My complicated and sometimes troubling relationship with running and racing

The launch of another great issue of Eighteen Bridges

The fall 2017 issue features writing about Edmonton for Canada’s 150th birthday

eighteen bridges magazine, fall 2017, canada 150, edmontonAs senior editor at Eighteen Bridges, one of Canada’s top magazines for narrative journalism, I have the privilege of reading, working with, and helping to publish the writing of incredible authors. (Sometimes I even get to appear along side them, as the magazine’s music columnist.)

The fall 2017 issue was extra special. A collaboration with the Edmonton Community Foundation, it enlisted talented essayists who bring unique perspectives on Edmonton’s past, present and future. The result is a rich and varied anthology that runs the gamut of what makes Alberta’s capital a fascinating, complicated and, on the whole, amazing place to be.

I’d love for you to buy a copy to see it all for yourself – or better yet, subscribe! To help make my case, here’s a sampling of the awesome stories you can expect from this issue and those to come:

The sweet oblivion of float therapy

My discovery of the true meaning of REST: Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy

float therapy modern gravity scott messenger
Photo by Blaise van Malsen

Salt can hold a certain kind of salvation. All you have to do is dissolve 1,000 pounds of it in a shallow, 34-degree bath. And then you just lie down and drift.

I discovered this at Modern Gravity, a float facility in central Edmonton. Owners Matt Smith and Jamie Phillips hope to establish the practice as a recognized therapy for relieving clients of many of the stresses of modern life.

The challenge: relieve floating of its reputation for being, as the owners put it, “hippy woo-woo science.”

Read more at techlifetoday.ca.

A short tour of “Albeerta”

Here’s a taste of what the province’s craft beer boom has on tap

Troubled Monk, Red Deer Alberta craft brewerySince December 2013, when the provincial government lifted minimum production requirements for Alberta brewers, the local beer industry has been booming.

Join me on a short but sweet (and sometimes a little bitter – you know what hops can be like) tour through a small portion of what’s on tap across what’s becoming affectionately known as “Albeerta.”