Pursuit recently launched a new cruise experience at Lake Minnewanka in Banff. It’s a scenic tour including storytelling and — wait for it — some of Alberta’s best craft beer. The cruise runs Friday through Sunday weekly this July and September, and will run at the same time every day of the week in August. It’s recommended that you make advance reservations online. Below is what you should know before you go.
This is just one of Pursuit’s many Lake Minnewanka experiences and is intended for adults only, specifically pairs of adults (more on that later). If you’re coming with young family members, check out the other adventures offered. Tickets for Beer Voyage start at $74 and the cruise departs at 4:30 p.m. Guests are asked to arrive early to check in and queue for boarding. The cruise lasts 90 minutes, making it half an hour longer than most other options.
Attendees receive a cooler bag (which you can take home as a souvenir) with two cups and four different Albeerta beers inside: Banff Ave Brewing Co‘s Ride or Dry Nelson saison, White Wit and Black Pil, plus Last Best Brewing and Distilling‘s IPA. Guests who don’t drink beer can request craft sodas by The Grizzly Paw Soda Company from Canmore or canned cocktails from Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley.
Rather than crush four beers in 90 minutes, this cruise is intended for pairs so they can consume responsibly and discuss the colour, aroma and taste of the beers amongst themselves and with other guests. Also, guests are served a dinner roll to keep them from getting too tipsy. The tasting has been sequenced to go from lightest in taste to highest with beers that express the prairie-meets-mountains terroir of the Calgary and Banff regions.
The guided tasting gets into tasting notes without requiring a cicerone’s knowledge to appreciate the details. If for some reason you don’t finish your beer, you can take any unopened cans when you leave. Open cans will be disposed of by your guides.
Once aboard and seated, guests receive their beer package and an intro to the crew while enjoying some tunes played over the sound system. After a safety briefing, the vessel departs and travels all the way to Devil’s Gap — a destination that only two Pursuit cruise experiences offer.
Along the way, the guides tell stories of the lake and surrounding area’s history, most of which have a connection to the beer. We won’t share any spoilers here but our favourite story from the tour involves a cryptid who gives Nessie and Ogopogo a run for their money. Once you reach the turnaround point at Devil’s Gap, the engine is cut so guests can enjoy the calm silence of the lake and venture to the stern for photos. Then, the last beer of the tour is opened as you make your way back to shore.
Things to Do Nearby
Lake Minnewanka is an extremely popular destination and parking can be tricky at certain times of the day. We recommend spending most of your day here or exploring other nearby bodies of water before the cruise. Minnewanka has a snack canteen and two great hikes to fill up the day: the beginner-friendly Stewart Canyon Trail and more challenging Aylmer Pass. Just outside of the Banff townsite on the way to Lake Minnewanka, the picnic-friendly Cascade Ponds connect to the Banff Legacy Trail where you can bike to Canmore and back if you’re feeling sporty. Or, further from town but within spitting distance of Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake an enduring favourite of visitors and Johnson Lake is equally worth a visit and may be less crowded.
Avenue’s writers and editors are occasionally invited to experience dining or adventure activities as a guest, including some experiences in this story. Neither complimentary experiences nor advertising are required for coverage in Avenue. Neither companies that advertise nor those that provide other incentives are promised editorial coverage, nor do they have the opportunity to review or approve stories before publication.