Tour Calgary’s Brewery Districts

Pedal Pub craft beer tour in Inglewood Calgary
Pedal Pub craft beer tour in Inglewood Calgary
Calgary Craft Beer

Tour Calgary’s Brewery Districts

Check out the best brewery districts in Calgary

With more than 40 breweries and counting, Calgary has exploded into a brewery-hopping hotspot. Beer-lovers in the know are flocking to secret areas of the city, where clusters of small breweries are growing into communities of their own and offering rewarding adventures for those willing to go beer hunting.

The brewery scene has some old favourites, but for the most part is young and hungry. Brewers are experimental and willing to take risks. The taprooms are intimate community spaces where new friends await. The person pouring your beer is often the same person who made it and they love to talk about why the beer in your hand is special.

The steam rising from the floor vents. The smell of hot malt. The vibration of the brewing equipment. Visiting a brewery in person is an experience you can truly feel. From Annex to Zero Issue, now is the time to experience the best of our city’s beer. For a truly unique taste of Calgary that is out of the ordinary, grab a brewery map, an empty growler, and your fun-loving friends. Whether by foot, bike, train or car, your urban beer adventure awaits.

Please verify the status of all activities, learn How to Visit Calgary Safely During COVID-19, and refer to our COVID-19 Traveller Update for more information.


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Cabin Brewing Company in Calgary.

Cabin Brewing Company in Calgary.

Manchester

Calgary’s most prolific brewery cluster has grown just south of the downtown area, with 10 breweries producing an astonishing number of award-winning brews, all within walking distance. Breweries in this area are producing some of the best beer in the city, from hazy IPAs and craft lagers to fruity and funky barrel-aged offerings. They’re also known for the vast amount of seasonal and one-off beers being produced, meaning no two visits are the same. You will definitely want an empty growler to take advantage of tap-only small batch releases. This area comes alive on Saturdays, with craft beer fans hopping between breweries.

Best Way to Get Around: Bike or foot.

What to Bring: Walking shoes, your friends, an empty growler.

Local Tip #1: Nestled amongst the 10 breweries in Manchester are three distilleries, a cidery and a winery, so there’s something for everyone. You may need two days to explore this entire area.

Local Tip #2: When hunger hits, you are close to many hearty food options. Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery serves mouthwatering barbecue food, Annex Ale Project has a Lil Empire Burger popup serving fine casual burgers and sides, and most breweries allow you to take in your own food.

Local Tip #3: Domestic bunnies now live in the wild in this area, so watch out for these fluffy balls of cuteness as you move between breweries in the northern part of the area.

Breweries in Manchester:


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Cold Garden Beverage Company in Calgary (Photo credit: Travel Alberta/Chris Amat).

Cold Garden Beverage Company in Calgary (Photo credit: Travel Alberta/Chris Amat).

Brewery Flats

Located in the historic neighbourhood of Inglewood, the area known as Brewery Flats was once home to Calgary’s first brewery (Calgary Malting and Brewing, est. 1892). That brewery is now long gone, but the area has undergone a craft brewery renaissance, from the sleek and modern High Line Brewing on Inglewood’s main street to the neon lights of 80s-themed Eighty Eight Brewing is a 20 minute walk, with another four breweries in between to visit.

Best Way to Get Around: Bike, foot, or Pedal Pub.

What to Bring: Retro neon attire and an empty growler.

Local Tip #1: End your day at Cold Garden Beverage Company or Ol’ Beautiful Brewing, which have adjoining patios and taprooms that are bustling late into the evening.

Local Tip #2: Cold Garden was the first brewery in the city to become dog-friendly and is now a haven for dog-owners and dog-lovers.

Local Tip #3: Revival Brewcade is lined with retro pinball machines and arcade games, so grab a bag of tokens and challenge your friends.

Breweries in Brewery Flats:


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Trolley 5 Brewpub in Calgary

Trolley 5 Brewpub in Calgary.

Beltline

Next to the downtown area is the leafy Beltline neighbourhood, home to five breweries nestled amongst dozens of bars and restaurants that call the city’s party zone home. From fresh beer, barbecue, and big screens at the immaculate Trolley 5 Brewpub, to exquisite hazy IPAs and craft lagers at Tailgunner Brewing’s taproom, it’s impossible to go hungry or thirsty in the Beltline.

Best Way to Get Around: Foot or Pedal Pub.

What to Bring: Walking shoes and a picnic blanket.

Local Tip #1: Bring a picnic blanket and take a shady break at one of the many inner-city park spaces that dot the route between breweries.

Local Tip #2: Nestled between Tailgunner Brewing and Two House Brewing is the Alberta Beer Exchange, a craft beer-focused liquor store that specializes in seasonal and rarities from the province’s small breweries.

Local Tip #3: Last Best Brewing & Distilling has a three-season outside patio with overhead heaters and a large fire pit to keep you cozy.

Breweries in the Beltline:


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Bow River Brewing in Calgary.

Bow River Brewing in Calgary.

South

A quick C-Train ride south of the city centre on the Red Line, four breweries have formed a quadrant that offers four completely different visitor experiences. From communal tables, mouth-watering barbecue, and shuffleboard at Prairie Dog, to death metal and off-the-wall brews at New Level Brewing, there’s enough variety and beer to keep anyone busy all afternoon. Weekends are the best time to visit, outside of C-Train rush hours.

Best Way to Get Around: C-Train or bike.

What to Bring: Your appetite and your family.

Local Tip #1: It’s a quick jaunt from Bow River Brewing to the Manchester breweries, so it’s easy to begin to tackle a second brewery area in one day!

Local Tip #2: You’re allowed to take your bike on the C-Train weekdays outside commute hours (6:30 to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.) and all day on weekends.

Local Tip #3: Bitter Sisters Brewery has two huge overhead doors that open to a massive dog-friendly patio out front that gets all-day sun.

Breweries in the South:


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Zero Issue Brewing.

Zero Issue Brewing.

City Centre North

As you head north across the Bow River from Chinatown, the breweries become more spread out but excellent beer awaits for those who make the effort. The first you’ll find is Calgary’s smallest production brewery Two Pillars, which makes just 100 litres of beer at a time. Their focus is on stronger beers and subtly spiced European styles, paired with simple, but delicious bar snacks. Further north, Citizen Brewing Company has a killer patio and well-priced burgers and fried chicken, and you can’t miss Zero Issue Brewing, where comic book nerds and beer aficionados come together over a constantly rotating beer list.

Best Way to Get Around: Bike or designated driver.

What to Bring: Sunglasses for the patio.

Local Tip #1: Citizen Brewing Company’s patio is kid-friendly and dog-friendly, so you can bring the whole family, whether they have two legs or four!

Local Tip #2: The military-themed Elite Brewery & Cidery has an 80-foot carbon fibre bar and has a rotating range of hard apple ciders on tap for a change of pace or a gluten-free option.

Breweries in City Centre North:


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Heathen’s Brewing in Calgary.

Heathen’s Brewing in Calgary.

Brewmuda Triangle

From downtown, take a Blue Line C-Train northeast to Marlborough Station. From here you can walk to three fun brew spots, including Calgary’s only 100% gluten-free brewery, Heathen’s BrewingTool Shed Brewing was the first brewery to be licensed under new provincial laws in 2013 that opened the way for smaller breweries to open. Check out the back seating area for a birds-eye view of the brewery and to play one of the many board and table games they have on offer. One block away is Common Crown Brewing, which won Brewery of the Year at the 2020 Canadian Brewing Awards.

Best Way to Get Around: C-Train or foot.

What to Bring: Gluten sensitive beer drinkers and your board game A-game.

Local Tip #1: Most breweries in Calgary allow you to bring your own food. Stop at T&T Asian Supermarket by Marlborough Station and build yourself a snack pack for your outing.

Local Tip #2: Celiacs rejoice! Next door to Heathen’s Brewery is SunnyCider, which has a bright and modern cider house pouring a wide range of ciders and meads.

Local Tip #3: Book a tour at Tool Shed Brewing Company to hear their full, inspiring story of opening against the odds. Their tours are informative and fun.

Breweries in the Brewmuda Triangle:


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Marda Loop Brewing in Calgary.

Marda Loop Brewing in Calgary.

Marda Loop Brewing in Calgary.

Marda Loop Brewing in Calgary.

Southwest

One of Calgary’s most unique brewery taprooms is situated in AF23, an old Air Force hangar located in Calgary’s former Currie Barracks military base, currently being redeveloped into a housing and retail community. For 25 years Wild Rose Brewing has served up hearty meals and beer in a cozy room akin to a mess hall. It’s a great place for lunch, especially if the sun is shining, and sets you up for a stroll through the leafy neighbourhoods of Garrison Green and Marda Loop to get to Marda Loop Brewing, an intimate community brewery serving balanced, easy-drinking ales paired with delicious small plates of bar snacks.

Best Way to Get Around: Bike or foot.

What to Bring: Your family and a book to read under a tree.

Local Tip #1: Ask what’s on Wild Rose’s “brewer’s tap” to get a taste of some small-batch beer they have on the go.

Local Tip #2: The whole area between Wild Rose and Marda Loop Brewing is a former military base. Be sure to stop and read the plaques that explain the history of the area or plan a visit to The Military Museums along the way. 

Local Tip #3: With just two breweries, a large open field beside Wild Rose and lots of playgrounds in between, this is a great walk to do with kids.

Breweries in the Southwest


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Big Rock Brewery in Calgary.

Big Rock Brewery in Calgary.

BONUS: Foothills County

Foothills County is where the big breweries play! Take in a tour of the sprawling Big Rock Brewery facility, Calgary’s original craft brewery, some lunch at Brewsters Brewing and then round it out a flight with the newest player in the Foothills scene, Good Mood Brewery. This area is great to visit mid-week around the middle of the day to make the most of the food options on offer.

Best Way to Get Around: Car, rideshare, or designated driver.

What to Bring: A designated driver and your appetite.

Local Tip #1: Brewster’s releases an annual barley wine called Blue Monk. If it is in stock, be sure to grab a bottle to go to share later!

Local Tip #2: While the area isn’t great for cycling, there is a paved cycle path starting near Big Rock that runs through farmland alongside an irrigation canal that takes you all the way to Chestermere, some 33km away.

Local Tip #3: Big Rock is set amongst grass and leafy trees and has a delightful restaurant and patio that is a perfect oasis on a hot day.

Breweries in the Foothills

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By
Haydon Dewes

Haydon Dewes is a Certified Cicerone, beer judge, beer writer and columnist whose home brewing hobby got well out of hand. He is now co-founder at Calgary’s Cabin Brewing Company.