Calgary’s Top 10 Breweries and Craft Beer Bars
There is no question that Calgary’s craft beer scene is thriving. Since 2012, there has been an explosion of new and high quality craft breweries and craft beer bars with more popping up all of the time. In an effort to help you to navigate Calgary’s craft beer scene, here are my recommendations for MUST DO’s in terms of craft breweries and craft beer bars in Calgary, Alberta. From one craft beer lover to another: Cheers!
ONE – Cold Garden: Cold Garden Brewery in Inglewood is my personal favorite brewery in Calgary. There’s nothing else like it, located in a large industrial building and decorated solely with items donated by the community. The whole place has the feel of your parents’ basement in the 90s. What makes Cold Garden so unique is that it has very eclectic decor (including airplane seats and old movie theatre chairs for seating), excellent beer at a very affordable price ($6 for a flight), and a young and hip atmosphere. AND it’s DOG FRIENDLY. What else could you want? If you’re visiting during a weekend, make sure you come early or plan to wait, as this is a hot local spot, and there’s sure to be a line (especially in the summer months). Only snacks are available for purchase, but you can bring in your own food or have something delivered.
TWO – Dandy Brewing Co: Dandy Brewing Company, located in Ramsay, offers a wide range of brews, ranging from hoppy IPAs to sours to imperial stouts. The brewery was one of the first craft breweries in city. I recommend trying a variety of beers during your visit, but don’t miss the oyster stout! It is their most famous beer. Also don’t miss out on Dandy Brewing Co’s living beers – living beers are a focus of the brewery. Dandy Brewing Company offers both food and drink.
THREE – Toolshed Brewery: This brewery was truly instrumental for the craft beer movement in Calgary. Thanks to their efforts, Calgary’s craft brewing laws were changed, paving the way for many new breweries to open their doors. The owners of Toolshed are incredibly friendly and outgoing. All of the beers’ labels and names have hilarious and interesting stories behind them. Don’t miss out on paying Toolshed’s taproom a visit. They also offer brewery tours on Saturdays. There is no food, but you can bring your own or order in. Located in Marlborough.
FOUR – Last Best: I’m partial to this brewery specifically because of their high quality flagship IPA and their outdoor patio. Last Best is located in the Beltline district, and it is actually a brewery AND distillery. They have a wide range of taps and an excellent food menu. What makes them special? High quality beer and food, an excellent outdoor patio, and a hidden barbershop in the basement (that serves beer)! Also important: Last Best holds a beer tasting for club members on the first Wednesday of every month.
FIVE – Trolley 5: Located on 17th Ave, Trolley 5 has a wide selection of taps and excellent food. They are always collaborating with other breweries to bring in a variety of rotating taps to the bar so you’ll never get bored. Trolley 5 has a great atmosphere, and the patio on 17th is ideal for people watching. Full service for food and drink. I recommend trying their flagship pale ale.
SIX – National on 10th: As the name suggests, National is located on 10th avenue SW. There are actually three National Craft Beer Bars located around the city, but the location on 10th is my absolute favorite. I love National on 10th for a few reasons: First, most beers on tap are Canadian with only a couple exceptions. Second, there are 71 taps, and what craft beer lover doesn’t love that statistic? Third, from 3-6 PM, all beer is 25 cents per ounce. This applies to any and all tap beers, including flights. Randomly, oysters are also on special for happy hour. What makes National on 10th especially unique and perfect for a night out on the town is the bowling alley located in the basement and a hidden speakeasy down an unassuming hallway and up a questionable flight of stairs (but it’s cool, really). Located in the Beltline.
SEVEN – Annex Ales: This no BS Brewery is relatively new to the beer scene, but it’s giving other breweries a run for their money. Annex Ales is located in Park Hill. There is no food served here, but you’re more than welcome to bring in your own food or have it delivered. If you are an IPA fan, I highly recommend paying Annex Ales a visit. In my opinion, they make the highest quality IPAs in town, and they offer a great selection of beers. Not a beer fan? Try one of Annex Ales’ craft root beers or ginger ales on tap. Bottles of beer and craft sodas are also available to take home.
EIGHT – Banded Peak Brewing: Banded Peak Brewery is located in an old warehouse. This no frills brewery cranks out fantastic beers. Seating is limited, so come early or be prepared to wait. While the atmosphere is nothing to brag about, the beers certainly are. Their taps are constantly changing, so snag a seat and a flight, and enjoy. I recommend the Imperial Plainsbreaker – a hopped wheat beer. There is no food, but once again, feel free to bring your own or order in (thank goodness for Skip the Dishes). Banded Peak Brewing is located near the “Barley Belt” in South East Calgary.
NINE – Zero Issue Brewing: I love the video-gamed theme of this brewery. Their décor, beer cans, and beer names are all video game inspired. I recommend trying the multiverse pale ale, dystopia white IPA, of the nemesis IPA. Zero Issue Brewing is located in North East Calgary, but it’s absolutely worth the trip. Snacks are available, or you can order in your own food.
TEN – Highline Brewery: Located in Inglewood, Highline Brewery is a small taproom that opened in 2016. Highline Brewery offers high quality beers, plenty of board games, and excellent customer service. The location is perfect, since it is within walking distance to Cold Garden and Dandy Brewing Co (see above). There is no food served here, but you are welcome to bring in your own or order delivery from one of your favorite restaurants. They are known for their creative beer styles. I recommend the AB plane APA, CDCW winter nitro stout, or Clubmate, a dry hopped fermented tea. Also notable? Their Wobbly Sobby Yuzu sour.
Okay beer lovers, there you have it: Calgary’s Top 10 Breweries and Craft Beer Bars. Calgary’s craft beer scene has exploded over the past 5 years, and it is sure to continue this way. If you’re a craft beer lover like me, you are always looking forward to checking out new craft breweries. Is there anything I missed on this list? If so, please let me know your recommendations!
Interested in reading more about craft beer around the world? Check out my post for Barcelona’s Top 10 Breweries and Craft Beer Bars!
*Also a special “thank you” to my twin sister (and fellow foodie and beer lover), Sarah Romanuck. She helped me with recommendations for this post and made sure I could visit all of these breweries.