It has never been easier to get a good pint of beer in Calgary. Thanks to a relaxation of brewery-related rules by the AGLC in December 2013, the city has seen an emergence of brew pubs. What differentiates a brew pub from a gastropub (e.g. Unicorn Superpub) or a beer hall (e.g. Wurst) is that it brews beer on-site in addition to serving food. Not only does this mean you’re getting the freshest pint possible – it also means that you’ll to be able to try some experimental brews and seasonal creations that you won’t find anywhere else.
*Listed in alphabetical order.
In operation since 1991, Brewsters is the longest-running brew-pub operation in Calgary. The company has five locations around the city, plus a pizza restaurant called Beer Revolution, and its brews are available at many liquor stores. For the true brew-pub experience, head to the southeast industrial location at 55th Avenue and 53 Street. S.E. where all of the brewing takes place.
Best pairing: 52nd Street peach ale and Memphis spring rolls.
four locations in Calgary including 5519 53 St. S.E., 403-723-2739, brewsters.ca
Last Best Brewing & Distilling
Part restaurant, brewery, distillery, cocktail bar and barber, Last Best wears many hats. Most of its creations like the Show Pony pale ale or Dirty Bird black lager are easily found at other bars around town, but you’ll need to go to the brew pub in the Beltline to sip their unique seasonal beers.
Best pairing: Olsch Kolsch B’Golsch and apple pie.
607 11 Ave. S.W., 587-353-7387, lastbestbrewing.com
Mill Street Brew Pub
This sizeable set-up on 17th Avenue S.W. is a welcome addition for those headed to Flames games and neighbourhood residents alike. Signature and seasonal beers are made on-site on a rotating basis, while the 20-plus portfolio of Mill Street beers is always available on tap. Operated by Creative Restaurants Group, which owns Bonterra and Cibo, among others, the brew pub’s menu was developed by chef Glen Manzer and is a worthy match with the excellent beers.
Best pairing: 100th Meridian amber lager and venison Reuben.
219 17 Ave. S.W., 403-454-6871, millstreetbrewery.com
This multi-level space on 17th Avenue S.W. gets pretty lively on the weekends and even more so when the weather warms up and the 15-foot windows can be opened. The brewing takes place in the lower level, and from the bar you can see the tops of the steel tanks poking through the floor. Trolley 5 makes six signature beers, including a white IPA and a porter, and also likes to keep things interesting by doing one-off collaborative brews with microbreweries around town like The Dandy Brewing Company.
Best pairing: Derailed pale ale with Derailed beef dip.
728 17 Ave. S.W., 403-454-3731, trolley5.com
Did You Know
- Alberta’s first brewery was, confusingly, the Saskatchewan Brewery in Medicine Hat located in the region that was then called the Northwest Territories. It was founded in 1882 by Englishman Thomas Ireland. The brewery only lasted five years and closed in 1887, eight years before Alberta became a province in 1905.
- Alberta had segregated drinking halls for 40 years. Between 1927 and 1967, drinking establishments had separate entrances for “ladies and escorts.” The fear was that “loose women” would corrupt the men.
- Beer enhances the flavours in food because the carbonation cleanses the palate and prepares it for the next bite, unlike wine, which coats the mouth. Pair delicate dishes with delicate beers and boldly flavoured dishes with assertive beers. Think of lagers as white wines and ales as reds.
- Alberta grows about 50 per cent of all barley in Canada. Many international beer companies buy Alberta barley because it’s considered by many to be the best in the world.
- There should be at least two fingers of foam at the top of a glass once you’ve finished pouring.
- Prior to Dec. 5, 2013, the AGLC wouldn’t sign off on a brewery until it had the capacity to brew 500,000 litres of beer per year and actually brewed 250,000. Now that the minimum brewery production laws have been removed, we can expect the craft beer scene to continue to grow. –Avenue Staff