Craft beer is everywhere these days, and honestly, why shouldn’t it be? It’s usually delicious, and often times it’s a great way to taste your way through some interesting and innovative local flavors. Well Calgary is no exception to the craft beer boom, and we’re thankful. We’ve drank our way through the city and have put together this guide to the best craft beer in Calgary. Our beer guide will take you to the best craft breweries in Calgary, as well as the best places to drink craft beer, and some of our favorite beer stores.
If you are looking for the best craft beer, it’s always wise to start at the source. In this case that means visiting a brewery for a brewery tour, or at minimum, paying a visit to their tap room. Here are our favorite craft breweries in Calgary.
5000 12a St SE, Calgary, AB
Craft Breweries are popping up all across North America bringing innovative and finely produced beers to the masses. Over the years we’ve visited hundreds of breweries and brewpubs and the Village Brewery in Calgary still stands out as one of the best. Their flagship beers stand out as a finely crafted testament to their respective styles, while their seasonal and “one off” brews, come to the table with just the right mix of quality and creativity. The best part though, is that they live up to the “Village” name, and spend most of their time and energy connecting with their local community in order to brew something that’s special and unique. Village Brewery does offer limited tours, and also features an onsite tap room with growler fills.
4580 Quesnay Wood Dr SW, Calgary, AB
It’s not often that you find a craft brewery that’s proud to tell you that you can’t have their beer. That’s exactly what you’ll find though when you visit the Wild Rose Brewery. If you ask them, they’ll tell you that they started their craft brewery with the single mission of freeing themselves from “the tyranny of boring beer”. If you ask me, they’ve succeeded. The only catch is, you have to be in Alberta to get it. Their rich and creamy Alberta Crude is only available on tap, and their Wraspberry Ale is a fun and easy drinking front porch beer. If you are anywhere in Alberta in the Fall or early Winter, keep your eyes peeled for the Cherry Porter. It’s a limited release that sells fast and goes fantastically in front of a warm fire. Wild Rose currently offers limited tours at their new brewery, or offer pints at their classic taproom in the Currie Barracks.
801 30 St NE, Calgary, AB
While Tool Shed Brewery might be one of the new kids on the block, they are taking the Calgary craft beer scene by storm. How, you ask? One beer at a time. As of this writing, Tool Shed only brews 3 varieties, and their happy with that. If you ask them, they prefer to make 3 great beers over 6 good ones. Their current line up features an IPA, a Cream Ale, and a deliciously robust Red Ale aptly named Red Rage. They currently offer limited tours on Saturday and can be found in cans and on tap throughout Alberta.
5555 – 76TH AVE, SE Calgary, AB
Founded in 1985 Big Rock Brewery is one of Alberta’s oldest craft breweries and after a change in direction they’ve made it their mission to produce “deliberately different” craft beers. With a deep selection running from a traditional Brown Ale to a Steel Cut Oatmeal Raisin Stout there’s something for everyone. They’ve also opened a second location in Vancouver to tap into all that West Coast Hop goodness and bring it to Alberta. You can book a tour of the brewery and sample quite a few of their brews, or just stop in to their bottle/gift shop and pick up a sampler.
If you can’t find the time to go straight to the source, the next best thing to do is find a great brew pub or beer hall where you can enjoy a variety of craft breweries at once. In some cities your choices are pretty limited, but thankfully that’s not the case in Calgary. Here are some of the best brew pubs in Calgary.
345 10th Avenue Southwest, Calgary, AB
Craft Beer Market stakes it’s claim in Calgary as having “Canada’s Largest Selection of Draft Beer”. While, impressive what really stood out to us was the overall vibe and feel of the restaurant combined with the fresh and creative food menu. I mean what’s quantity without quality right? It’s hard not to enjoy a place that can take a regular burger and turn it into something fun like Fast Food Sushi, while also serving a collection of brews from across the world.
Multiple Locations in Calgary
With 4 locations in Calgary, the National has definitely become a Calgary institution. From their hip & cool 17th Ave flagship location to their giant 10th Ave location which features 3 floors and a bowling alley, The National doesn’t forget what their customers come in for; Fun pub food paired with a giant beer list. Out of all the locations, our favorite has to be the one on 10th Ave. Why? 3 words & 3 stories: Beer, Bowling, and Bourbon. The middle floor of “The Nat” features a huge space filled with giant communal tables and huge airport style rotating beer menus. After warming up there, if you’re the mood for bowling you can head to the basement, and if you are looking for a stiffer drink in a more refined atmosphere, you can head upstairs to their Bourbon room.
140 10 Ave SW, Calgary, AB
When you combine their draft list with their bottle list, Bottlescrew Bills has a very deep selection. Throw in their “Around the World in 80 Beers Passport” and you’re in for a hell of a time. For the uninitiated, their passport gives dedicated enthusiasts to the craft a great excuse to drink 80 different beers while collecting fun stamps and goodies along the way. Sounds like one more reason to throw back a cold one!
Sometimes you’re craving a nice brew but the idea of heading out to have a drink just seems like way too much effort, or you might just be stocking up for an upcoming blizzard. No matter what your excuse, sometimes you just want to buy your beer and bring it back to your home or hotel for pantsless enjoyment. (Who wears pants while drinking beer at home??) Stop in at any one of these spots and you won’t be disappointed.
218 12 Ave SE, Calgary, AB
If you’re looking for a nice selection of Canadian Craft Brews blended with a fun selection of West Coast brews from South of the border 5 Vines might be your spot. While their store isn’t the biggest their collection of craft beers is well curated and features a lot of single bottles available for purchase. Plus, it’s the only place in the city I know of that isn’t a brewery that offers growler fills. They freshen up the list weekly and always try to have something fun on tap. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot, they have lots of Wine too
Home to Dave the beer guy (you’ll hear him on various YYC radio stations), Willow Park is your local beer & wine superstore and happens to feature a respectable selection of craft brews. Also, they tend to have a lot of the harder to find sampler packs and special releases.
Oak & Vine tries to take all the hassle out of beer and wine buying by doing something different. They sort all their styles with a unique color coding system to help those new to tasting find just what they like. If you’re in need of a craft beer education, this is the right place to stop for a good introduction.
Well, I’m sure there are more places to find a great craft brew in Calgary. If this list doesn’t get ya started in the right direction though, I’m not sure that I can help. Have a favorite that I missed? Let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure to check it out the next time I’m in the ole Cowtown. Until then, Cheers!