Compiled by the Road Trip Alberta team
Last Updated on September 22, 2021
You’ve made it to Alberta’s biggest city as a part of your road trip – now park your car and let someone else drive you around to explore the best breweries in Calgary!
Alberta has seen a massive boom in craft breweries, going from 27 in 2015 to over 120 in 2020. And in recent years, the Calgary craft brewery scene has especially seen exceptional growth. The city certainly also has its share of fun cocktail joints, but the craft beer scene is now worth a special mention as the number of small-batch brewers and self-proclaimed “beer aficionados” has soared. In turn, people are trading in their tired old six-packs for something more interesting in flavour profile, name, and even the expressive artwork that adorns the cans.
A wealth of excellent breweries have cropped up throughout the city, offering a variety of tasty hops and suds each unique in their process, ingredients, and naming conventions. While you’re here, you owe it to yourself to check out these top breweries in Calgary.
Citizen Brewing Company
Almost hidden off of Edmonton Trail, Citizen Brewing Company has a built a solid reputation amongst Calgarians (and Albertans). Their mission “to make beers that they themselves want to drink and that they are intensely proud of,” is a proven success. Don’t forget to try the Hijacked IPA, the name commemorating the time that their food truck was literally stolen, or the Belma and Louise, a NEPA packed with a ton of Belma hops. Stop by their patio and have a pint or grab a few cans, but if you have the time, be sure to grab a bite because their food is damn good too. Citizen is open 7 days a week and the patio is dog friendly.
Cold Garden Beverage Company
Cold Garden is a somewhat niche microbrewery located in the Inglewood neighborhood of Calgary. Founders Blake Belding, Kris Fiorentino, and Dan Allard set up shop there with the intention of revitalizing the area, as it was once Calgary’s center for all things beer. This is one brewery in Calgary that it really pays to visit, especially if you want a creative beer that you won’t find anywhere else.
Some of Cold Garden’s brews include Cakeface, a Marzen lager made with vanilla beans that actually tastes like a birthday cake. Also don’t miss the Red Smashed, an Irish Red Ale made with malted and roasted barley, caramel, and some English hops. The taproom is open for tours seven days a week.
Common Crown Brewing Co.
If you’re looking for a spot to converse over drinks after work one day or take visiting family, one of the breweries in Calgary that you absolutely cannot afford to miss is the Common Crown Brewing Co. Common Crown bills itself as devoted to “Crafting Beer for Good Times and Great Conversations,” making it a great place to just chill, drink and socialize.
Core beers include its crisp and light Blonde Ale, its bold and malty Brown Ale and its citrusy and mango-flavoured Journeyman IPA.
Although their tap room is currently closed to the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they ingeniously created ‘Project Beer Run’ which is a beer delivery service on Thursdays and Fridays for a flat rate of $5!
“It takes a village to raise a beer, and beer to raise a village,” says this tagline for one of Calgary’s most popular breweries. Village Brewery boasts Calgary’s only interior rooftop bar complete with sweeping vistas of Alberta’s foothills, and inside you can peek into the Farmer’s Market located directly below. There is a strong sense of community here, so enjoy your time and be sure to grab a growler or two on the way out. Don’t forget to try our favourite: Village Squeeze.
Tool Shed Brewing Company
The Tool Shed Brewing Company was literally born in a backyard tool shed as the brainchild of self-described “high-level geek” Graham Sherman and his partner – two guys with a penchant for obsessing over their hobbies and a strong love of good beer. Their obsessive qualities drove the two men to turn Tool Shed into a phenomenon.
Some of the brewery’s mainstays include its Flat Cap Stout and Red Rage Ale, touted as “the ONE thing Chuck Norris fears!” The brewery opens its taproom to the public seven days a week so that people might see how the guys do their work. Tours and tasting sessions are held there every Saturday at noon and cost as little as $15.
Prairie Dog Brewing
Prairie Dog Brewing is a craft microbrewery doubling as a barbecue restaurant whose tagline neatly sums up what they’re all about: “Beer, Barbecue, Friends.” While their beer is exceptional, with a kitchen run by a Red-Seal certified executive chef, their menu is nothing to scoff at either. Offering Texas-style BBQ with slow-roasted and smoked meats prepared in Clifford, their big red pit/smoker, almost everything on the menu is prepared from scratch using high-quality local ingredients.
With regulars like their dark Uncle Eddie’s Oatmeal Stout and their Gunnison’s Red Ale, their beer selection pairs perfectly with the mouthwatering BBQ offerings. The family-owned establishment even solicits Albertan artists to help design their beer labels and cans.
The Dandy Brewing Company
What do you get when you combine a chef, a chemist, a teacher and liquor business veteran, and an idea to make the best beer in Alberta? The Dandy Brewing Company – one of Calgary’s most innovative craft breweries creates some of the most thoughtful ales and unique sours we’ve ever tried. Their mission was to create exciting beer styles with quality ingredients, and they’ve certainly achieved this. The Dandy Brewing Company have earned many accolades including one of Canada’s “most notable brewery in 2019”. What was once touted “the original little brewery” in Calgary has grown into one of the most popular craft breweries in town.
This company has captured Calgarians by tugging on the heartstrings of nostalgia and the spirit of the 1988 Olympics that took place in Calgary. Eighty-Eight Brewing is a vibrant little hole-in-the-wall in Inglewood. In addition to its many well-crafted and high-quality beers, it conveniently has a pizza parlor located right upstairs, making it one of the breweries in Calgary that should definitely be on your list of stops.
As for the beers themselves, Eighty-Eight can treat you with stouts like Good Morning and the Easy Bake, a cool Tropical IPA called the Wave Pool and a wonderful rosé saison called Tiffany.
Annex Ale Project
Founded in 2015 by co-owners Andrew Bullied and Erica O’Gorman is Annex Ale Project. The brewery is located in the Manchester neighbourhood of Calgary and frequently experiment with with product and creations. Next to their brewery is their tasting room and invite their guests to enjoy a pint or a flight to sample their many different beers, ciders and even craft sodas. At the core, the Annex Ale Project are social humanist committed to making award winning beer. Annex produces four year-round beers and will have a variety of experimental and seasonal beers ready for their patrons.
Don’t miss trying the Force Majeure, a hoppy NEIPA that has notes of mango, passion fruit and pine resin.
Cabin Brewing Company
Relax. Take a deep breath. Drink great beer. This is what Cabin Brewing is all about.
They claim to not having any mind-blowing superhero powers. But after trying their core beers (RETROSPECTRUM, Super Saturation and Sunshine Rain) you could swear they do. They really love making beer and it shows. They live it, drink it, love it and make it for the world to taste.
Visit their family-friendly taproom (yes that is a canoe chandelier), have a pint on their sunny patio and if you’re hungry grab one of their Kiwi-style pies (voted as one of the best things to eat in Calgary).
Map of Calgary Craft Breweries
A reminder to please be responsible and don’t drink then drive.
If you’re looking for what more there is to do in Calgary then use our Complete Guide to Calgary for suggestions on where to eat, sleep and things to see and do.
And if you’re looking for a few day trip recommendations from the city be sure to check out our recommendations for four easy day trips from Calgary.