Calgary’s beer scene has a jump start on Edmonton’s, but you’ll find energetic and welcoming taprooms, bars and brewpubs in both of the province’s major cities.
Situation doesn’t neglect the “pub” portion of brewpub, evidenced by a spacious, full-service restaurant where you might have to wait for a table. You can easily pass the time at the bar, choosing from a rotating lineup of styles as well as a daily cask special. Peek through a glass wall to see the brewery, or ask for a full tour—just don’t miss out on ordering the glazed chicken drumsticks. 10308 81 Ave NW, Edmonton, situationbeer.com
Last Best Brewing & Distilling
An open kitchen, glass-fronted distilling operation and “Drink Beer, Live Forever” tile mural offer plenty to look at while you ponder the menu at this Beltline brewery-distillery-restaurant. Core beers lean traditional (schwarzbier, English porter, kolsch) but there’s buzz around Last Best’s rotating IPA series and recent foray into kettle-soured beers. 607 11 Ave SW, Calgary, lastbestbrewing.com
The Dandy Brewing Co.
The teenie taproom can only legally squeeze in 24 people at a time, so come early to snag a table where you can taste some of Alberta’s most creative beers. Start with the flagship oyster stout Dandy in the Underworld, then progress to some of the wild-fermented and farmhouse offerings that have in the past included a grisette, a tiki-inspired Junglebird dark sour and a raspberry-cardamom wild ale. 1826 25 Ave NE, Unit 11, Calgary, thedandybrewingcompany.com
Common Crown Brewing Co.
A sunny, no-frills taproom offers lots of bench seating for groups interested in tasting through the handful of offerings from this less-than-a-year-old brewery. Don’t overlook some of the yearround beers; styles like a blonde ale and an English brown might sound run-of-the-mill, but these two are spot-on for style. The taproom is also a mere 600 meters from Toolshed Brewery, so make your trip a two-fer. 943 28 St NE, Calgary, commoncrown.ca
National on 10th
Any of the four National bar/restaurants could provide a crash course in Alberta’s beer scene, but if you want a side of basement bowling with your pint, you’ll have to head to National on 10th. (An eight-lane alley plus pinball and ping-pong explain the steady stream of folks heading to the lower lower.) On the first floor, though, the focus is squarely on beer: 60-plus taps’ worth of it, about half of it from Alberta, served by knowledgeable staff who can guide you toward what’s new. 341 10 Ave SW, Calgary, ntnl.ca/national-10th/home-ntnl10
Banded Peak Brewing Co.
Alberta’s surfeit of barley contributes a lot to the province’s malt-focused beers, but if it’s hops you’re after, this year-old brewery has your back. Banded Peak’s tasting room, located in a narrow industrial bay, is sparse but convivial, making it easy to overhear other drinkers pick apart the Equinox and Mosaic hops in Southern Aspect unfiltered IPA, or comment on the intersection of lemon and tropical fruit flavors in Plainsbreaker hoppy wheat ale. Pick up a crowler as a souvenir on your way out. 119, 519 34 Ave SE, Calgary, bandedpeakbrewing.com
One of the most eclectic taprooms in Calgary (or anywhere), Cold Garden boasts a “disco pineapple” sculpture, multicolor pool noodles insulating the brewing pipes and silk-flower-covered tap handles. The vibe is fun, quirky and laid-back, and the beers reflect it: Regular brews include Cakeface vanilla bean marzen, The All-Nighter Vanilla Cappuccino Porter and This Must Be The IPA, a West Coast-ish take on the style. 1100 11 St SE, Calgary, coldgarden.ca
Brewing since 1996, Wild Rose is considered one of the elder statesmen of Alberta’s craft beer scene. The brewpub, located in a building that was once 1930s-era Air Force barracks, feels appropriately broken-in with knickknacks lining the walls and bartenders greeting regulars by name. Taps cover an array of styles, from Shady Character dark saison to Ponderosa passionfruit gose, made even more interesting when bartenders create beer mashups such as the Pink Velvet: half Wraspberry Ale, half Velvet Fog wheat ale. 4580 Quesnay Wood Dr SW, Calgary, wildrosebrewery.com
Not far from Rogers Place, the Edmonton Oilers’ beautiful new arena, Yellowhead has a comfy taproom to dip into before the game (or catch the game on the brewery’s TVs). Choose a song off the shiny jukebox and settle into the brick-lined environs, housed in the H.V. Shaw Building that was constructed in 1914 as a cigar factory. Yellowhead generally only has a few beers on tap; start with the eminently drinkable Yellowhead Lager before moving on to the Mango Tango shandy or Black Lager schwarzbier. 10229 105 St NW, Edmonton, yellowheadbrewery