Ah, summer - the few fleeting months that our city is rid of snow. A time for sun, swimming, and of course: patios. While Alberta’s craft brewing industry has tripled in the past year, we’ve always had a vibrant variety of local breweries (did you know Alberta’s oldest brewery predates Alberta itself?) and Calgary has seen some of the most exciting action.
From iconic breweries to small joints just starting out, these spots are the perfect place to fight off the summer sun and cool down with a cold one with the guys and gals. You’ll definitely find me working my way down this list this summer!
What follows is a complete list for your summer tour of our local beers. Many will offer brewery tours, and have spaces or patios perfect for a drink on a summer afternoon. However they all deserve a taste, and if you can try them all before the snow returns you’ll be doing our city proud!
1. Caravel Craft Brewery
Where: Bay #12 10221 15 Street NE
With roots from Eastern Europe and a beer made with old brewing traditions and methods, Caravel is sure to be a hit with all your beer-loving friends. They offer brewery tours and have a large tap room to enjoy their selection of fresh beer. The Captain’s Log German Pilsner is refreshing and sure makes for easy drinking, but I suggest trying the Hazy Horizon Hefeweizen. PS. They offer beer yoga...
2. Citizen Brewing Company
Where: 227 35 Ave NE
If you’re looking for a place to get your munch on while you sample some truly great beer, this place should be on your list (come on Tuesday nights for some cover-free live music). With amazing food (try the burgers or cubano) and some truly friendly staff, it’s easy to see why they’re popular! Try the Hijacked IPA if you want a great but not too hoppy brew.
3. Common Crown Brewing Co.
Where: 943 28 St NE
This is definitely one of the smaller operations, but not one you’ll want to miss! Their taproom is small and cosy, and the brewery offers both group and private tours. My favourite is the Coppersmith Brown Ale.
4. Minhas Micro Brewery
Where: 1314 44 Ave NE
This microbrewery is an absolute must, purely for its spunk. With some award-winning pizzas and a selection of hard and old-fashioned sodas, this is a great destination to bring your non-beer-loving friends. Take the tour for some great beer tasting. Definitely try the Lazy Mutt Authentic IPA.
5. Tool Shed Brewing Co.
Where: 801 30 St NE
Tool Shed is truly an iconic Calgarian beer. With tours and a taproom serving light snacks and filling growlers, this is a perfect summer destination. Marketed as “people skills in a can”, I suggest trying People Skills, their staple cream ale.
6. Zero Issue Brewing
Where: 4210 12 St NE
A new brewery, these two brothers have brought sci-fi influences to the Calgarian beer scene. With such a unique premise, their taproom will be a memorable destination to bring your friends. Their Nemesis is a strong beer with fruity and citrus notes, perfect for a summer patio!
7. Last Best Brewing
Where: 607 11 Ave SW
This place offers a large space to host your summer party with some great food, greater beer, and best of all, a sunny patio. The Dirty Bird Black Lager is definitely worth a try.
8. Trolley 5 Brewpub
Where: 728 17 Ave SW
This place is an absolute must. Located right on 17th Ave, they’ve been serving up amazing beers and food since its opening. With tours, a taproom, and a restaurant, this place will satisfy all your friends. You gotta try the Derailed Pale Ale, it’s one of my favourites.
9. Wild Rose Brewery
Where: 4580 Quesnay Wood Dr SW
Operating for over 20 years, if there’s one place and patio to hit this summer, it’s Wild Rose. You need to visit their original location at Currie Barracks, a converted WWll Air Force hangar. With a constant crowd of dedicated regulars, some incredible food and iconic beers, you’ll love this place. The Velvet Fog might be the best wheat ale in the city -- perhaps even the country…just go try it.
10. Annex Ale Project
Where: 4323 1 St SE
With a modern and aesthetic af taproom, hit this place if you want to up your insta game. With non-alcoholic options, flights, and growlers, this place will be a hit with all your friends. I’d order their North American Bitter, a Calgarian take on the English bitter.
11. Banded Peak Brewery
Where: 119, 519 34 Avenue SE
This modern and edgy space (complete with merch for sale) offers open viewing of the production area, and tours. They have some great core beers like the Chinook Saison, a Belgian ale (you can’t get a more Calgarian name than that!).
12. Big Rock Brewery
Where: 5555 76 Ave SE
Operating for over 30 years, their brews have become staples all around the country (they’ve opened locations in Vancouver and Toronto). Their Calgarian location offers great food, tours, and some of the best beer in the city. It’s near impossible to recommend just one brew from this iconic brewery, but the Traditional Ale has always been my go-to favourite.
13. Brewsters Brewing Company
Where: 100 11 McKenzie Towne Avenue SE
Another large operation in business for over 25 years, Brewsters has quite a few locations scattered through Calgary and the province so you can make it a summer destination no matter where you are. For a truly unique brew, try the Hawaiian Coconut Porter.
14. Cold Garden Beverage Co.
Where: 1100 11 St SE
Brewing in the heart of Inglewood, you won’t want to miss this on your Inglewood bar crawls (which if you haven’t planned yet, you should). Not only for the great name but also the great flavour, try the Red Smashed in Buffalo Jump, their Irish Red Ale.
15. High Line Brewing
Where: 1318 9 Ave SE
Another craft brewery in Inglewood, your Instagram will benefit from their can-styled clear glasses. They’ll offer you a tour if the place isn’t too busy, and have some gluten-free options! For a great easy drinking summer brew, try the Alberta Plain ale.
16. Village Brewery
Where: 5000 12a St SE
A great place to finish off your workweek (open Thursday, Friday, & Sunday), this place offers flights, growlers, and popcorn! Half taproom half art gallery, bring your artsy friends to enjoy their Village Hitman, a citrusy session ale.
17. The Dandy Brewing Co.
Where: 2003 11 St SE
A self-described “nano-brewery”, these brewers make one damn good brew, and offer an intimate tasting room to sample any of their eight taps. With complimentary tours, you really have no excuse to hit up this local landmark. The Oyster Stout is a favourite among their customers.