A Road Trip For The Responsible

Dip Into Southern Alberta For The Sights And The Craft Beer Offerings

— Brett Hopper

tool shed interior_fmt1With a spare weekend and a healthy appetite for local craft beer, rather than heading to the liquor store as usual, how about a road trip instead? With proper precautions, of course.

Weekends were made for road trips. Now more than ever with breweries popping up all over, and with many true craft beer destinations being just off the highway, we have compelling destinations. Accommodations in the province are catching on to the beer buzz, and are lending themselves to the craft beer lover by providing unique offerings, often in partnership with the local brewery.

The first step in planning something like this is to call ahead. Most breweries strive to be accommodating at a moment’s notice, but if you call ahead, brewers are able to get their hops in a row and plan out something special. Heck, tell them your full plans for every destination, and they’ll either want to join you, or make your visit to them the most memorable out of the journey.

dandy pint_fmt1Calgary is home of Big Rock Brewery, one of Canada’s first craft breweries and now so successful they can no longer be considered small. While the same applies to Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary is becoming increasingly known for its micro (meaning small) craft breweries, and they’re peppered across the city. We suggest hiring a driver for a day, or buying lunch for a buddy and a couple of t-shirts throughout the day to make it work his or her while.

The Dandy Brewing Company located in the North East of the city is known for its bottle conditioned beer, and casks, where they let the beer do all the work, instead of speeding up the process with forced carbon dioxide. What you end up with are beers that are more mellow on the carbonation side of things, more complexly flavoured. If you can get your hands on it, the T2E IPA is a good, approachable version of the style.

banded peak_fmtOf course, we couldn’t do a proper beer story on the city of Calgary without mentioning the guys who changed the rules in the province: Tool Shed Brewing Company. Two best friends began to wonder why there weren’t more breweries in a place centrally located around some of the best beer ingredients on the planet. Turns out, the industry was heavily regulated. That is until Tool Shed Brewing Company lobbied with the government to show how the beer industry is great for tourism (among other things!). Head down to the brewery and try out a Red Rage Amber, or Star Cheek IPA, both named after the guys who started the brewery.

grizzly paw pints_fmtOne of Calgary’s newest breweries, Banded Peak Brewing, is just off the Stampede grounds and is making a name for themselves already because they’ve combined their two favourite things: outdoor adventures, and unique beer offerings. They love the outdoor lifestyle, and beer fits that mould. The Plainsbreaker Pale Ale, The Summit Seeker IPA, and the Chinook Saison are all refreshing, and a great treat once you’ve finished a day of hiking.

Here’s where hiring a driver, or designating a friend to drive you around becomes extremely important: You’re three breweries in, and need to leave the city.

Heading West from Calgary on the Trans Canada Highway offers several beer-centric destinations within striking distance. With the addition of equally beer-focused places to rest your head.

grizzly paw ext_fmtThe Grizzly Paw Pub has been a Canmore destination for 20 years, entrenched right in the heart of the Bow Valley. Their success has always been driven by the rotational beers they offer, and since building a production facility in 2013, their reputation has only skyrocketed. The pub offers a great menu to accompany your thirst, along with breathtaking views only the Rockies can provide. In the beer world, fresher is definitely better. The Evolution IPA offers a well balanced hops profile, great citrus notes on the nose, and a clean finish. Not in the mood for IPAs? The Powder Hound Pilsner is a Canmore take on a traditional German Beer, and has become a classic in the Bow Valley Area for its flavour profile true to the German Style.

coast hotel_fmtThe Coast Canmore couldn’t be situated any closer to the Grizzly Paw Brewing Co. It’s literally across the street on Old Canmore Rd. The hotel chain has taken advantage of the location and has partnered with the brewery’s production facility for an accommodation and tour package, which includes a one-night stay plus two adult passes, beer samples and souvenirs. The tours take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, so it’s really up to you when you want to arrive.

Are your tastebuds yearning for the next destination? Well, head 20 minutes West, and you enter beautiful Banff. The history of the town is entrenched in Canadiana, and more recently, is becoming known for its beer getaways. The Banff Lodging Co. has taken full advantage.

ptarmigan inn ext_fmtTwo of those options are located at the top end of the downtown core: The Banff Ptarmigan Inn, a staple in the tourism industry, and the newly constructed Moose Hotel & Suites. Depending on what kind of stay you’re after, both provide access on foot to new beers you want to try. It’s worth mentioning that the newly built Park Distillery, which makes premium vodka, a line of flavoured vodka, gin, and a yet to be released whiskey program, is also in the area.

pond hockey bottles_fmthead smashed bottles_fmtAs you walk into downtown Banff, you can’t help but take in the history of the town. You are surrounded by the looming peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Walk two blocks from the hotels (they’re right next to each other) and you’ll reach the Banff Ave. Brewing Co. They have been producing a wide array of suds since their opening in 2010, and continue to drive a community focused beer culture. They constantly try to put new and interesting options in front of consumers with their rotating guest taps from other breweries. You can get a chance to try Edson’s Bench Creek Brewing, or Edgerton’s Ribstone Creek Brewery without leaving Banff! There are also casks available every Friday that showcase the diversity of beer flavours in this province.

So, the next time you want to get away for a weekend, we suggest thinking about the many wonderful breweries popping up in the province. It’s always best to plan ahead, and don’t drink and drive. Start booking your self guided beer road trip today!

Banded Peak Brewing
Unit 119, 519 34 Ave SE, Calgary

Banff Ave Brewing Co
110 Banff Ave, Banff

Banff Ptarmigan Inn
337 Banff Ave, Banff

Coast Canmore Hotel
511 Bow Valley Trail, Canmore


Dandy Brewing Co.
#11, 1826 25th Ave NE, Calgary

Grizzly Paw
310 Old Canmore Road, Canmore

Moose Hotel & Suites
345 Banff Ave, Banff

Tool Shed Brewing Co.
801 30 St NE, Calgary