Though the hot (okay, at least warm) days of summer may be behind us, the lack of patio space is no reason to forgo a cool beer – just pull up a stool at your local pub. The renewed interest in shopping and eating local definitely includes beer, and you won’t have to go far to find some of the best. These Calgary watering holes came in at the top of our list for their mouth-watering microbrews.
Wild Rose Brewery & Tap Room
Located in a former military supply store on the old Currie Barracks site off Crowchild Trail SW, this brewery/tap room is worth double-checking your map. Take a tour of the brewery, or simply sit back and enjoy one of nine styles of beer brewed on the premises including six bottled varieties and three draught-only selections. Check out their Velvet Fog for award-winning unfiltered Canadian wheat ale, or their Wraspberry Ale for a light, refreshing beer with just a hint of fruit. Can’t decide? Take home a sampler 12-pack, or try their new Royal 100 brewed specifically for Mount Royal University’s Centennial.
Big Rock Brewery & Grill
Big Rock started brewing in 1985 with three styles of beer; their Traditional Ale is still being brewed today with the same recipe, and that alone makes it worth a taste. The motto here is local: local company, employing local people, using almost all local ingredients. The restaurant side is open only for lunch Monday to Friday but can be booked for private functions. Combine lunch with a brewery tour and tasting (including a custom six pack) by booking ahead. And if you’re in the mood for something different, try the McNally’s Reserve for a draught stout, Alberta-style.
Brew Brothers Brewery
Located in downtown Calgary, this brewery focuses on just three beers, with a few more specialty and seasonal varieties sold exclusively at particular restaurants. Find their Czech Pilsner at Brasserie Kensington, and their Fat Pig Pilsner, HornDog, Prairie Steamer Cream Ale, and Dam Rhino, their version of a Black and Tan, at The District and Amsterdam Rhino. The names are almost as good as the beer.
Buzzard’s/Bottlescrew Bill’s Old English Pub
Boasting more than 250 ales and lagers from around the world, Buzzards’s and Bottlescrew Bill’s operate out of the same kitchen, but have kept both names. Recently renovated, the pub is still full of character and claims to offer the largest selection of ales and lagers of any Calgary restaurant. This downtown pub is also the home of the Around the World in 80 Beers Passport program – just grab a passport and have it stamped each time you try a beer from their Passport List. For the local taste, be sure to try the Buzzard Breath Ale, a special old bitter which had been brewed exclusively for the pub & restaurant by Big Rock Brewery since 1985, and is now brewed by Wild Rose Breweries. Wash it down with gastro pub fare featuring local ingredients; you can’t get much more Albertan than that.
The Bottlehouse Canadian Beer Parlour
There’s something to be said for a pub that serves 77 varieties of beer, of which 50 are Canadian. From Alberta alone, you’ll have the chance to taste Big Rock, Grizzly Paw Brewing, Alley Kat, and Wild Rose. Aside from the beer, expect upscale pub food without the upscale price; Executive Chef Hans Puccinelli focuses on local, fresh, and unique ingredients and everything is made in-house. The pub is a relative newcomer to the Kensington (they’ve been there since March 2010) area, but with so many homegrown choices, they’re certain to have some repeat customers. The only thing missing is a house brew – although they do feature their Skinners Brown Ale (brewed by Wild Rose) in their fish and chips.
Craft Beer Market Restaurant
They claim to have Canada’s largest selection of draft beer, and with over 120 lines of beer on tap, it’s hard to argue. Come in on a Tuesday to try their weekly cask beer made especially for Craft by various Alberta brewers including Wild Rose Brewery, Alley Kat (Edmonton), and Brew Brothers. Their Craft House Lager is a locally-brewed, easy-drinking lager made with Alberta barley, and their list of unique ales, creative beer blends, and even beer floats will ensure you’re never bored with the selection. Try their six-pack of four-ounce samplers with different beers featured each week. The local focus continues in their food with Spring Creek Ranch beef and local chicken. Gluten-free options are available for the buns, flatbreads, sandwiches, pastas and even the beer. With so many to choose from, you may complete the 100 Pint Club challenge of 100 on-tap beers tried earlier than you’d like to admit.
One for the Road
Discover what Calgary has to offer when it comes to world-class local craft beers. The combination of Canadian ingredients and tastes will satisfy even the most discerning of palates.