Best of The West 1- Alberta
The TOP Beers in Western Canada starting with Alberta
I have spent the last two months sampling some of the absolute best craft beer that Western Canada has to offer. I have become a connoisseur of sorts and have highly enjoyed meeting local craft brewers, sales representatives and experts in the industry. I was amazed at the kindness and loyalty each brewery demonstrates to the other, they are all in this together and it feels more like a family affair than a competitive industry.
I am thrilled to be involved and spread the love to these 20 phenomenal breweries in Alberta, British Colombia and Saskatchewan. While I would love to include reviews of every beer I was sent it would turn this article into a novel. I have narrowed it down to my two favorites for each brewery.
Cheers, and remember drink local!
Alley Kat- AB
Image by Sondra Baker
Winner of two awards at the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards including a Beer of the year award for their Scona Gold. Alley Kat is best known for their hugely popular Aprikat beer, once you have your first sip you find out why in a hurry. They like to brew in small batches giving them more control over the quality and the ability to play with new flavours.
Aprikat – The aroma of this beer prepares you for the fresh apricot taste. It has a light clean finish and is one of my new favorite beers.
Big Brown Cat (a collaboration with Big Rock) – Light roasted malt aroma, a dark amber pour with a strong Hoppy pine finish.
Big Rock- AB
Image By: The Beer Maven
Founded in 1985 by Mr. Ed McNally, now the largest Craft Brewery in Canada. Known all over for well oved signature series,which features Traditional & Grasshopper and of course their Short Film Festival called The Big Rock Eddies. Huge community and local farming supporter.Top Picks
Scottish Heavy Ale -The beer write up asks “Is your mouth ready for a warm velvet hug?” And this is a perfect description for this ale. The Brewmaster chose malts with caramel and toffee undertones which plays beautifully with the vanilla that pulls through in the end.
Traditional – An Alberta staple, you can’t go wrong with a Trad. English style brown ale with complementing flavours of caramel, roasted malts and finishes with a mild hop.
Brewsters – AB
Image by: Sondra Baker
Second generation family business once known mostly for their good food and welcoming local atmosphere, now just as popular if not more well known for their authentic craft beer. This can now be purchased at hundreds of locations across Alberta. Their Barley Monk Wine is to die for and I could drink their 52nd St Peach Ale all day long.
Blue Monk Barley Wine – Gorgeous golden brown coloring, medium thick off white head. Scents of floral malts, hops and heat. This one is quite boozy and definitely a sipper. Strong enough to make the Monks start chanting.
River City Raspberry – Always served in a frosted mug with a threesome of fresh raspberries floating on top. My Brewster’s staple is now available at liquor stores across Alberta. A must try.
Village Brewing – AB
Image By: Sondra Baker
A brewery invented from friendship and a passion for craft. Their slogan ‘It takes a village to raise a beer. And a beer to raise a village.’ Is followed through with their community involvement, support of local artists and god damn amazing quality craft beer. One of my favorite breweries for sure.
Village Wit – Flavored with coriander and orange. This is an unfiltered wheat ale with light sediment. When my unfiltered beer has a layer of sediment on the bottom I gently swirl it around until properly mixed and I know that this cloudiness means I’m getting extra boost of flavors and accents in this particular beer. Wit is just like that, the golden ale turns into a cloudy creamy mouthed beer that smells lightly of orange zest and begs to be garnished with one. There is fullness to Wit that I appreciate and makes this wheat ale one to really sip and enjoy.
Blacksmith – I love a good full-bodied dark beer. Blacksmith smells of roasted barley, is the color of soot, and has an appreciated hop finish.
Wildrose Brewery – AB
A true Alberta gem, made and sold only in Alberta in small high quality batches with local ingredients. Voted the #1 Taproom in Calgary 6 years in a row. Wildrose rocks a great variety of delicious beers. It was hard to narrow it down to my top 2 but I persevered.
Electric Avenue Golden Lager – A homage to the wildest avenue there ever was, now lined with respectable businesses this lager brings you back to time of belly shirts and Doc Martins. My go to Lager after a hot Calgary day, clean, golden yellow and refreshing, just like a Lager should be.
Flanders Ave – A sour beer, barrel aged in red wine barrels. This was my first sour beer so my palate was intrigued. And in a good way, it reminded me of sour cherry candies from when I was a kid.
Ribstone Brewery – AB
Image By: Sondra Baker
This brewery made my list after meeting their knowledgeable sales guru Zach. The brewery is located in the small town of Edgerton AB, think farmers fields and blue sky. It was founded in 2012 by a group of friends and business owners. After pumping out a consistently reliable and full bodied lager they came out with some impressive pale ales (Lone Bison , Rangeland ) and an amazing porter which made my top favorite list. I’m very much looking forward to what they come up with next ! And I think a brewery tour is most definitely in order.
Old Man Winter Porter – The beautiful artwork on this can drew me in, it’s definitely the best can design I’ve ever seen. If there’s an award for that it should win gold. The beer inside matches the outside beauty, the aroma is of roasted malts and freshly brewed espresso. Your taste buds aren’t let down as it tastes just like it smells. A very well done porter Ribstone!
Lone Bison IPA – A bold full mouthed IPA, pours a deep bronze with a nice thick head. The flavour lasts and lasts like the energizer bunny. Perfect for this hop fan.
ToolShed Brewery- AB
Image by: Sondra Baker
Two former Military IT guys meet in Afghanistan for the first time, find out they live down the street from each other back in Calgary and forge a friendship that is the back bone of ToolShed Brewery. They started making one of a kind home brews in guess where? Yup a Tool Shed! They fought through the crazy AGLC Laws that worked against small breweries and won. When these guys do something it’s all in, in every way possible. Not one to stick to conventional brewing rules, they make their own rules and you can taste it. It’s about friends, stories and enjoying a beer together that has been made with 100% heart.
Flat Cap Stout – Brand New! Not even out yet. I was ecstatic to be one of the first to try their newest member of the family. The pour is black with a nice off white head, full bodied and complex. There is a hop party going on in there, in typical Tool Shed fashion they surprise you with the play of flavours. I might have had two 20 ouncers of this during my tour).
Red Rage – A beautiful dark red pour with perfect carbonation. Think Canadian winter layers, flavors of coffee, baked bread and a tease of hops. This Ginger is my new bff.
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