I’ve made it my mission to travel the far reaches in search of some of the finest beers. My conclusion? Alberta is a province that makes great beer! Are you looking for something new? Do you love pilsners, ales, stouts and lagers but don’t know where to go? Look no further! Here is my top six Alberta brewery picks for 2020.
Valley Brewing – Drumheller
I stumbled on Valley Brewing last year and it has quickly become one of my absolute favourite breweries. When I had first visited them in the summer of 2019, they had only been open for roughly six weeks. I loved every single thing they offered at that time and they continue to impress a year later. Located in downtown Drumheller, right in the middle of dinosaur country, Valley manages to add yet another reason to visit this quaint little town. The brewery boasts a brand new tap room and open patio as well as friendly, knowledgeable staff. Valley is known for sourcing its ingredients locally and is one of the few breweries in Alberta to use a horizontal lager tank for conditioning which allows them to clear their lagers without the use of additives or filters.
– Capstone Pilsner (bready, malty, crisp, clean)
– Devil’s Row Coffee Lager (roasted malt, light, smooth, locally roasted coffee beans from Friendly Folk Coffee Roasters)
– Discovery Raspberry Ale (tart, raspberry jam, malty)
Polar Park Brewing Co. – Edmonton
Opened in summer of 2019 and nestled in the heart of Old Strathcona, not far from Whyte Ave., Polar Park Brewing Company enters the brewing scene with style. The brewery now occupies the building that used to belong to Bee-Bell Health Bakery that closed in 2013; the old building shines with new life and purpose while keeping much of its old character. The main floor features a fantastic brewpub that offers some unique takes on old pub fare favourites, while the upper floor has a concert and event space that is sure to entertain! With friendly staff and a beautiful patio, this brewery is sure to become a Whyte Ave. staple.
– Tropic Tundra IPA (balanced, pineapple, grapefruit, passion fruit, smooth)
– Pink Panther Wit (light, raspberry, spice, refreshing)
Stronghold Brewing Co. – Fort McLeod
An unlikely find in an unlikely place; Stronghold Brewing Co. opened in 2019. Now occupying a former general goods store, Stronghold takes its place along the historical Main Street of Fort McLeod. The town itself was founded in 1874 by the North-West Mounted Police after establishing their barracks on the site, which remain a large part of its history and tourism to this day; Stronghold takes its namesake from this heritage. The old-timey feel of Stronghold’s taproom will send you back into the past while offering you something completely new. The brewers here aren’t afraid to experiment and think outside the box, putting unique spins on classic beers. Not interested in alcohol? No problem. They offer a line of artisanal pops brewed by their friends at Annex Ale Project in Calgary.
– Bison & Crown Cream Ale (creamy, buttery, bready, cereal, refreshing, smooth)
– Espresso Brown (roasted coffee bean, smooth, malty, light)
Sheepdog Brewing Co. – Canmore
Looking for a beer that actually tastes mountain fresh? Don’t grab the one I won’t mention by name in your local pub. Canmore is the place you want to go! I’m sorry, was that in Coor… I mean poor taste? Sheepdog Brewing Company opened in 2019, adding to the already thriving beer community in the scenic mountain town. Sheepdog occupies a small industrial garage but don’t let that fool you; this underdog has a broad selection of beers and ciders to choose from. Looking for something different? Sheepdog has you covered with variety of different flavour profiles that will tickle your taste buds. Want to check it out but you couldn’t find a dog-sitter? Bring the pooch too! Sheepdog Brewing Co. is a dog friendly brewery.
– Everything’s Peachy Pale Ale (peach, sweet, aromatic, floral, smooth, hoppy, bitter)
– Bailie’s Disaster Dog Cream Ale (sweet, bready, smooth, malty, balanced)
Piston Broke Brewing – Brooks
The story behind Piston Broke Brewing is an interesting one. The claim is that two mechanics dreamt about brewing beer, opened a brewery in 2019, and now they’re Piston Broke. If the joke went over your head, I’m not going to explain it to you. We found this brewery completely by chance while driving through Brooks and I’m glad I made the visit! From brews to burgers, this family friendly brewery has some amazing things going for it. They even have non-alcoholic options! With a spacious but cozy brewpub and a lovely little patio, Piston Broke offers a great night out in the middle of prairie country. Try the soft pretzels – it’s the perfect pairing with what they have on tap!
– Tiki Torque IPA (tropical fruit, peach, pineapple, honey, floral, smooth)
– Smokestack Black IPA (coffee, chocolate, bitter, smokey)
Sea Change Brewing Co. – Edmonton
Opened in 2018, Sea Change Brewing Co. was founded by a group of musicians that describe their brewery as artist friendly. While their location is slightly out of the way compared to other breweries in town, they are definitely worth the hike. If you want good beer, good food, and good company, this is the place you want to be. The staff are some of the best around and want to make sure your experience is nothing short of top notch. Legend has it that they even offered to deliver orders by forklift if anybody ordered an entire pallet of beer. Shortly after, they were making a 10 km trip in a rented pink forklift. This is the quality of service you can expect from Sea Change and it reflects equally in the taste of their beer. If you stay past 9 pm, you’ll have the opportunity to order the $1 Dirty Dog. So worth it!
– Prairie Fairy (raspberry, blackberry, balanced, fruity, sweet)
– Irish Red Ale (smooth, low carbonation, caramel, coffee, light, smooth)