Nestled in the cradle of Canada’s barley and wheat fields and supplied by fresh Rocky Mountain water that runs through the city, Calgary’s brewers have the best ingredients at their fingertips to brew a wide range of beer styles. With 44 breweries serving a wide range of different beers, you’re bound to find something that suits your palate.
Calgary Craft Beer by Style
Calgary Craft Beer by Style
Where to Find Wheat Ales in Calgary
Common Crown has a reputation for balanced and well-crafted beers that are true to style. Their Ploughman Wheat Ale is an homage to the field worker. It is hazy and bready with tropical fruit and citrus hop notes and is perfect on a patio when the weather gets warm.
One of Calgary’s few breweries nestled in an inner-city residential area, Marda Loop Brewing is a bustling suburban hub located between restaurants, coffee shops and upscale grocery stores. Casablanca Blond is an unfiltered ale made with Alberta flaked wheat and goes down as easily as a prairie sunset. You can even bring your pooch and relax on their patio!
Stroll down Inglewood’s historic main street and you will find a long narrow shop that plays host to a collection of pinball machines, retro video games, and a tiny basement brew system. A favourite concoction is their Invader Hopped Wheat Ale. You’ll notice that many of their beers are named after retro gaming and pop culture themes. It’s a balanced, refreshing wheat ale with a nice citrus hop twist.
Where to Find Hazy Beers in Calgary
Founded by two brothers who adored comic books growing up, Zero Issue is a shrine to all things pop culture and a hub to let them geek out and make awesome beer. This passion runs into the naming convention for all their beers, such as Nemesis NEIPA which is hazy and bold and throws off wave after wave of intense passionfruit, mango, and citrus notes. Be careful, it’s so good, it may well be your new kryptonite.
One of the first breweries in Calgary to get on board with the haze craze and do it well, Last Best Brewery is a bustling restaurant, brewery, and distillery in the heart of the Beltline in the inner city. Tokyo Drift is thick! Lots of body, lots of haze and lots of ripe melon and dank tropical fruit flavours and aromas.
Another bustling inner-city bar, restaurant and brewery is Trolley5 Brewpub, located on the Red Mile on 17th Avenue. You can eyeball the brewery, located right in the middle of this three-level custom build, from numerous vantage points around the building. Grab a seat near the front, indulge in some quality people-watching, and enjoy the citrus notes, from orange rind and hops, from First Crush that will make you swear you are drinking something healthy.
If bold, aromatic, hazy pale ales brimming with sweet tropical fruit aromas is your jam, then look no further than the Five Hundie NEPA. Calgary’s only sports-themed brewery, OT (yep, short for overtime) is tucked out of the way in the Manchester brewing area but has an intimate taproom with loads of TVs to catch the game.
Where to Find IPAs & Pale Ales in Calgary
The name evokes a West Coast rainforest, and the aromas are similar, pine and resin notes play in perfect harmony with notes of melon, mango, and papaya. It’s a light golden colour and has a restrained bitterness for the style, leaving you refreshed and wanting more after one pint.
Annex makes some outrageously flavourful beer, and the Force Majeure IPA NEIPA was the culmination of a long and enjoyable string of IPAs, where the hop character and aroma just kept getting better. French for “greater force”, Force Majeure delivers on its promise to stand out on your tasting flight and is dank, resinous, and overflowing with tropical fruit aromas.
This flagship beer from Citizen is a hop-forward take on a traditional malt-forward English-style pale ale. It has a rich amber colour and pleasant caramel malt sweetness that makes it pair really well with pub food. It’s balanced with citrusy hops to give it some liveliness and balance the caramel malts.
Where to Find Lagers and Pilsners in Calgary
One of Calgary’s newest breweries, Tailgunner has hit the ground running with its high-quality initial offerings of hazy beer and lagers. You’d swear you’ve been transported to Pilsen as you sip on this traditional-style Czech Pilsner. It has a smooth and voluptuous body and delicate grassy and spicy notes from the generous addition of noble hops. It is crisp and clear and all types of delicious!
There must be something in the water in Sunalta, a quick stroll west from Calgary’s downtown. Just a few blocks away from Tailgunner we find another excellent example of a Czech Pilsner at Two House Brewing. Crisp. Dry. Brilliantly clear. This is a pilsner that any European beer connoisseur would be proud of.
Not all lagers are created light. This amber lager from Bow River has a distinctive malty flavour akin to a Vienna Lager or an Oktoberfest lager, but finishes crisp finish and refreshing bite. This is a great beer to pair with food, especially bready dishes like pretzels, pizza, and burgers.
Where to Find Dark Beers in Calgary
Blacksmith is darker than a brown ale, lighter than a stout and hoppier than a porter. It’s an “Alberta black ale” and has delicious notes of dark chocolate, toasted bread, and roasted coffee. This was one of the first beers Village produced when they opened in 2011 and it remains embedded in Calgary’s beer DNA thanks to its balance of drinkability and flavour.
Big Rock is Calgary’s original craft brewery, making beer and being part of the cityscape since it was founded by Ed McNally in 1985 in response to a bland beer market in the city at the time. Traditional Ale, or Trad, as it’s lovingly known to its fans, has been brewed ever since. This English-Style Brown Ale combines toasty malt and sweet caramel up front, with a nutty flavour and medium mouthfeel that makes it super easy drinking.
No oysters were harmed in the making of this stout, but it sure as heck pairs well with those sweet, juicy mollusks. You wouldn’t normally call a stout a “session” beer but this one is just that. It’s deep brown colour fools you into thinking it will be heavy, but it has a light body with notes of coffee, chocolate, and light roasted flavour that pairs well with salty seafood of all kinds.
Where to Find Euro Styles in Calgary
A tafelbier is a lower-alcohol Belgian session beer with a nice spicy yeast character in the background, and Opus No. 7 from Legend Seven Brewing hits the right notes! This highly effervescent, straw-coloured ale has aromas of citrus and coriander. The style was originally brewed as a refreshment for farm labourers and is perfect for when you need to keep your wits about you, but would like to have a few beers.
Quite possibly Bavaria’s greatest export, the mighty hefeweizen style is as versatile as a partner for food as it is delicious. Good Mood’s version is true to the traditional German style, with notes of banana and spicy clove from the Bavarian yeast strain, and a thick, hazy body with doughy wheat notes. There’s a reason this beer style is included in brotzeit, or “second breakfast”, in Bavaria!
Who would start a brewery with an obscure 8.65 alcohol Belgian beer style as their flagship? Two Pillars! They specialize in small batch beers brewed 100 litres at a time, about as much as a homebrewer would make in one day. Their Belgian Golden Strong Ale is a delicious take on a classic style, with strong notes of pear and honey and earthy, peppery undertones from the Saaz hops. It’s both refreshing and warming, a rare feat in a beer.
Where to Find Light Ales in Calgary
Dubbed a “patio-style ale”, People Skills is just what you need when you want a non-complex, refreshing beer to quench your thirst. It’s smooth, crisp, and ever-so-lightly hopped with a crystal clear appearance that will keep the conversation flowing and the food washed down.
Modelled off the famous Kölsch beers harking from Cologne in Germany, this “Kölsch-style ale” (no self-respecting beer aficionado would dare call their beer a Kölsch unless it was from Cologne) boasts light pear and apple notes from the yeast, has malt notes reminiscent of fresh bread dough and a crisp dry finish, just like a lager. Drinkable? Absolutely!
Crisper and drier than your regular pale ale, Finnigan’s Irish Pale Ale uses a light-bodied pilsner base malt with some Munich and crystal malts to give a copper colour, balanced body and hints of caramel and honey. With a light hop addition, this is a beer that drinks more like a copper lager, is refreshing and will suit a wide range of palates.
Where to Find Sour Beers in Calgary
Just a short hop from YYC Calgary International Airport is Railyard Brewing. While they brew a wide range of styles, a crowd favourite is their Peach Sour, which is made with oats (for body) and lactose (for sweetness) then loaded with peaches to give it a fruity and refreshing finish. It’s like a Fuzzy Peach candy in a can!
It’s not not sour! By dry-hopping this beer, Eighty-Eight has produced a tart, dry, refreshing beer with delightful tropical notes of pineapple and mango. This beer is a must-try for that person in your party who insists on only drinking dry white wines, the acidity, the dryness and the fruit notes are akin to a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
Try saying this beer name 10 times fast after you’ve drunk a glass of it! With all the citrus zippiness of the Asian citrus fruit yuzu, this beer is tart and crisp and pulsating with fruit flavour. Best paired with sunshine on the patio and a bowl of edamame.