Whether you’re a local or someone visiting this beautiful city, there are no shortages of delicious craft breweries in Calgary for you to explore. In fact, Alberta is a great province for those looking for some tasty bread water. With more than 100 craft breweries creating everything from fruity sours to a hoppy IPA, there truly is something for all tastes. Plus, breweries are such a great way to sample both the beer and the culture of a destination.
As the biggest city in Alberta and our home for the last 20 years, the number of Calgary breweries has truly exploded. This is great news for those who love tasty bread water and we’re happy to say that the quality continues to improve month after month. No longer must we settle for the big watered-down brands. From peanut-butter stouts to blackberry sours, beer has certainly become much more interesting in recent years.
So if you’re looking for something new to do or some tasty beer to sample, here is our list of the top breweries in Calgary.
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Big Rock Brewery
While Big Rock Brewery is now likely considered a big national brand, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, Big Rock Brewery was the first true craft brewery in Calgary, starting way back in 1985. For this reason, we thought it would be great to pay homage to such an iconic Calgary brewery and give them the top spot in the article. Named after the massive erratic just south of the city near the town of Okotoks, Big Rock has been flowing through the veins of concert-goers for years, often seen at popular events such as the Calgary Folk Fest. Our personal favourites include Grasshopper, Rhine Stone Cowboy, and their Czech Style Pilsner.
Another famous local Calgary brewery is Wildwose Brewery, which has been in Calgary since 1996. They have a variety of beers, but one of our favourites is the Wraspberry Ale, a raspberry ale that is great during the summer months. They have 9 craft beers and their website also provides “recipes” for you to combine multiple Wildrose beers to create new flavours.
They serve their beer with a locally-inspired menu in a rustic air force hangar close to Mount Royal University. Their space is also great for events and every month, they select a charity to which they will be donating a fraction of their profit.
After our 150-day road trip across the country, guess who agreed to be our official wrap-up party location? Village brewery! For that, Village Brewery remains close to our hearts but it’s also one of the top breweries in Calgary. Created in 2012, they were one of the first craft breweries in the city and boasts Calgary’s only interior rooftop bar with sweeping vistas of Alberta’s foothills. There’s also a Farmer’s Market right below. They often work with artists and feature them on their cans, which is a pretty cool thing to do. Of their core beers, our favourite is the Village Squeeze, which is a lemon berry Helles.
Located right in the heart of 17th Ave SW, the liveliest street in Calgary, Trolley 5 is a great place to go for great beer and delicious food. It offers three floors of seating and an open concept brewery and taproom where you can see the brewery process while sipping the beer. It’s wildly popular during Calgary Flames games as well, and the arena itself is only a 30-minute walk away. Trolley 5 takes its name from the No.5 Trolley Line, which used to run through Calgary’s Beltline way back in the day. During our visit, we ordered a flight of beers, which we always recommend as a way to taste a variety of flavours. Some of our favourites included the Yachtrock Grapefruit Radler, the First Crush White IPA, and the Conductor Amber Lager. The food is also excellent, making this a great place for lunch or dinner as well. We tried their famous slow-cooked brisket and their spicy buttermilk-friend chicken sandwich, both of which were super tasty.
Located way out by the airport, we weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived at Railyard Brewing but we were pleasantly surprised. In fact, this is the coolest brewery we know of for those wanting to get a group of friends together to play games and drink beer. Industrial but artistic, with a cool graffiti-style vibe, this big open brewery makes you feel like you’re really in a working brewery (and you are) while enjoying the fruits of all that labour. They have a pool table, a ping pong table, darts, ps4 consoles, and more. They don’t have much for food at the moment, but you’re welcome to bring your own food with you, which is pretty cool.
Most importantly though, the beers are great. We went with a flight, allowing us to try some of their most popular beers, but the one that stood out the most was their seasonal Peanut Butter Milk Stout, which is really unique and really does taste and smells like peanut butter. Like many craft breweries, they have their core lineup but are always making new flavours to pair with the season.
In addition to good beer and a really cool venue, they’re also super close to the airport and all the airport hotels, so if you happen to be visiting Calgary as a stopover, this is a great place to go.
Named after an iconic year for Calgary, 1988, Eighty-Eight Brewing is bringing back the 80s vibes, including lots of nostalgia in the form of neon colours, newspapers from the 80s, cassettes, old TVs as decor, and a diner-style setting. Oh, and they make some pretty darn good beer as well. Located on the outskirts of Inglewood, the beers range from their core products to the specialty beers that they change up every few weeks. We had some interesting beers during our visit, including a Vietnamese Coffee Stout with some sweetened condensed milk, a dark plum sour, and the Night Gallary Pale Ale, which is their top seller. They have the taproom set up right next to the brewery, so you can watch all the action while sipping back on the product.
Ol Beautiful Brewery
Located in the heart of the hip neighbourhood of Inglewood, literally next door to Cold Garden Brewery (featured below), this place has a really cool vibe on the weekend thanks to their wonderful patio and great location. Inside, the taproom is a casual, inclusive space that welcomes all. They serve a wide variety of beers, with our favourite being Okami Kasu, a Japanese-style beer that is brewed with a substantial portion of rice, which gives it a unique and silky feel, while the Saké Kasu (rice leftover from saké production) is added to give the beer a subtle hint of boozy, creamy funk in the finish. In fact, this was our introduction to Ol’ Beautiful long before we visited the brewery. We were at the opening of Calgary’s Shokunin restaurant, and this beer was actually a collaboration between the two tastemakers. It’s a deliciously smooth beer and is extra special when paired with Japanese cuisine. However, it’s just one of the many beers they offer. Some of our other favourites include their Brass Monkey, which is a blood orange blonde, and their Abrazo Mexican lager. Also on-site is A1 Burrito, which makes one of the best burritos we’ve ever had.
Cold Garden Beverage Company
Located in trendy Inglewood, literally next door to Ol’ Beautiful Brewery, Cold Garden is a microbrewery specializing in truly unique beers, such as Cakeface, a Marzen lager made with vanilla beans that actually tastes like a birthday cake. Other popular choices include the Vanilla Cappuccino Porter and the Red Smashed in Buffalo Jump, aptly named after the amazing Alberta UNESCO World Heritage Site Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
The taproom is open for tours seven days a week and is a great place to hang out with friends, play board games, and enjoy interesting beers. They also have a really good and huge dog-friendly patio. There’s no food, however, so you’ll have to bring your own snacks if you want some bites with your brews. However, you could also run next door to Ol’ Beautiful Brewery and grab some tacos from A1 Burrito.
Beer tastes better in a cabin, but it also tastes better at a brewery, so perhaps Cabin Brewing is the best of both worlds? Located in Calgary’s Manchester brewing area, not far from Chinook Mall, Cabin Brewing offers tasty beer in a modern, simple setting. I mean, a canoe chandelier hanging from the ceiling is as Canadian as it gets. From IPA’s to Stouts, there’s something for everyone. They don’t have a lot of food on the menu, but one thing they’re known for is their Kiwi-style pie, so if you have a sweet tooth, that’s something you’ll want to try during your visit.
Located just off Edmonton Trail, not too far from Calgary’s famous Peter’s Drive-in, Citizen Brewery has become one of the top breweries in Calgary thanks to its delicious beer and its amazing dog-friendly patio. Some of our favourites include their Grapefruit Radler and their Dark Mexican Lager, but many people rave about their Belma and Louise NEPA, which is packed with a ton of Belma hops.
Also located close to Peter’s Drive-In, Elite Brewing has taken its passion for the military and beer and squished them both together to create a Military-History-Themed brewpub with tasty beer and cider and an extensive food menu. In addition to the suds on tap, visitors will find a carbon fibre bar, front rail, and a 40-foot mural depicting a pacific theatre from WW2. Talk about one of the most unique breweries in Calgary!
Despite being one of the smallest breweries in Calgary, Two Pillars packs quite a punch. Nestled in a strip mall on Centre Street in the quiet Crescent Heights neighbourhood, this nano-brewery is truly craft, creating beers that only last until they’re gone, moving on to something different each and every time while holding on to their core lineup, which includes a Wit, Blonde, Amber, and a Dark Strong.
Opened in 2019 with seating for roughly 40 people, Two Pillars focuses on Belgian-style beers, which means you won’t find any IPAs on the menu, something we actually take delight in. Two Pillars Brewery is open from Wednesdays to Saturdays with indoor and outdoor seating options.
Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery
If you like delicious barbeque food to go with your beer, Paddy’s Barbeque and Brewery should be on your Calgary breweries bucket list. If you’re hungry, you’ll be delighted to find their slow-roasted beef brisket, turkey, pork ribs and more, sold by the pound on platters and served with pickles and bread. Of course, you can wash it all down with one of their many beers, such as their IPA-V1-2019 or award-winning Foeder-aged Golden Sour.
The taproom itself is beautiful but if you want to make it a great night out on the town, consider going on Saturday when they host their weekly High Note event, which combines some amazing local musical and cocktail talent. If you love meat, you may also want to come after 8 p.m. when all their day’s meats are 50% off.
Tool Shed Brewing Company
Named after the fact that this brewery was literally born in a backyard tool shed, the founders have found a great outlet for combining their “high-level geekery” and their obsession for great-tasting beer. Some popular choices here include People Skills and the Red Rage Ale, both of which won gold in the 2020 Alberta Beer Awards.
The Tool Shed Brewing taproom is open seven days a week and they do an awesome tour and tasting session on Saturdays for $15. Plus, they also run Notorious P.I.G., a restaurant that has also won awards at the Jack Daniels BBQ competition in Memphis.
Prairie Dog Brewing
If you’re looking for a place to enjoy beer and barbeque with friends, this is the place to go. After all, it’s literally their tagline. Prairie Dog Brewing is a craft microbrewery doubling as a barbecue restaurant that is run by a Red-Seal certified executive chef. The kitchen churns out Texas-style BBQ with slow-roasted and smoked meats prepared in their big red pit/smoker while the brewery churns out popular beers such as their dark Uncle Eddie’s Oatmeal Stout and their Gunnison’s Red Ale.
The Dandy Brewing Company
If you like to experiment with your beers, this is a place you want to visit. Formed by a chef, a chemist, a teacher and a liquor business veteran, The Dandy Brewing Company has quickly become one of the best breweries in Calgary for innovative beers of all stripes and colours.
If you enjoy sours as much as we do, they are known for making the best in the city, not to mention some solid strong beers and ales as well. In fact, they won Canada’s most notable brewery in 2019.
The Establishment Brewing Company
When a brewery wins the 2021 Alberta Brewery of the Year award, the 2021 Canadian Brewery of the Year award, and has a founder that has won over 100 Canadian beer awards, you know you’re in for a real treat. Located in Calgary’s Manchester district, relatively close to Chinook Mall, The Establishment Brewing Company has created a wonderful taproom and brewery that combines old-world technique with new-world style, resulting in some incredible beers, such as their Jam Rock, which is a Blackberry Sour with Vanilla.
Zero Issue Brewing
For those into arcade classics, sci-fi, and comic books, this is the Calgary brewery for you! Inspired by retro geekery, this brother-run operation opened in 2017 and combined its passion for beer and fantasy with unique artwork and beer names. Some of the beers that stand out for us at Zero Issue Brewing include their Hologram Grapefruit Hibiscus Gose, their Celestial Blueberry Lemon Sour, and their Ivy Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout.
High Line Brewing
Crafted in 2016, this small-batch brewery is tucked away behind a Vietnamese restaurant in a parking lot off of 9th Avenue S.E, which is pretty great if you’re hungry. High Line Brewing definitely falls on the fringe line of things, which really makes things fun, especially when they host experimental larger-than-life drag shows on various nights. But aside from being a brewery for all types, they make some truly tasty beer, such as their Wabi Sabi Yuzu Sour and their Seaward Gose, which features sea salt, kelp, coriander, and hopped sour.
Inner City Brewing
Opened in 2018, Inner City Brewing is located right in the heart of Calgary’s Beltline, offering delicious beer created by researching famous beers and breweries from around the world. Some of their popular beers include the Bridgelandia, which is a modern hoppy blonde ale and their Vienna Lager. However, what excites us is their beer cocktails and their remixed versions of the standard fare that occur on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Annex Ale Project
Whether you’re into craft beer, wine, or soda, Annex Ale Project is one of the top Calgary breweries to visit. They have eight beer blends, three options for wine, five boozy sodas, and four non-alcoholic drinks for the designated drivers. They have a variety of tasty beers, including their rotating kettle sours, their Forced Majeure with pineapple, melon, and grapefruit, and their Big Sipper Session IPA.
Besides snacks like hop chips and salty string cheese, they don’t really serve food, but they do have nearby restaurants such as Lil Empire Burgers. In addition to beer, they also award-winning ginger beer and root beer.
Bow River Brewing
Located near Chinook Mall, Bow River Brewing is a casual taproom with family-style seating, award-winning beers, and delicious pizza. Some of their beers that stand out for us are their Chery-Raz Wit, their High Country Scottish Amber, and their Prairie Night Smokey Porter.
Although they’re now owned by the big guys (Labatt), Banded Peak has been a staple on the craft breweries in the Calgary scene. In fact, they’re the only craft beer offered in the Saddledome during Calgary Flames games, making it a nice break from common beers like Budweiser. Located at 34th Avenue S.E. near MacLeod Trail, they make all sorts of favourites, including their Plainsbreaker Hopped Wheat Ale and their Mount Crushmore Pilsner.
Marda Loop Brewery
When it comes to craft breweries in Calgary, we like to try and combine them with some of Calgary’s best neighbourhoods. One of the most popular neighbourhoods in town, for locals anyway, is Marda Loop, so visiting the Marda Loop Brewery is a great way to check out a new area of the city and taste some good beer and tasty food. Some of the beers you might want to try if you make it there is their seasonal She’s All That Blackberry Porter, which is an award-winning porter with notes of chocolate, bread, and bursting with blackberry notes and aroma as well as their Red Trolley Amber.
Another one of the best craft breweries in Calgary is Common Crown, which won the best brewery in Canada in 2020. You know you make great beer when you go from a small passion project to the best brewery in the second-largest nation on Earth. In fact, they were the first Alberta brewery to take home the top title. Their four core beers include Brewmaster Blonde, Coppersmith Brown, Journeyman IPA, and Ploughman Wheat. Their open-concept taproom has two rooms for both small and large groups and is completely open to the brewery, making you feel like you’re part of the action.
Last Best Brewing
How clever of us to leave Last Best Brewing as the last brewery to round our list of the best places to drink craft beer in Calgary. Saving the best for last is perhaps where this brewery got its name. Located in the bustling Beltline district, this brewpub features a 360-degree bar surrounded by dining booths, a semi-covered patio and a basement nook serving up tasty cocktails. Some crowd-pleasers include their Dirty Bird black lager and their Show Pony Ale, but there’s far more on tap for all tastebuds to enjoy. However, what truly sets Last Best Brewing apart is that they were also chosen as one of the top 100 restaurants in Canada! In fact, 25 restaurants in Calgary were given the honour, which is quite astonishing for a city of this size. It’s not very often that a brewery can claim such a title but Last Best Brewing has done just that. We recently visited this brewery before attending an Imagine Dragons concert and tried a variety of dishes that were all delicious. We started off with their Sweet and Spicy Pork Dry Ribs, with come with Szechuan peppercorn rub and kimchi pickled cucumber. For mains, I opted for their Roasted Chicken and Squash Pot Pie while Karla went with their Last Best For You Bowl, a popular rice bowl that comes with a variety of options, including Masala grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp, tofu, roasted cauliflower, broccoli, carrot and shallot, toasted quinoa, whipped feta, baby kale, and avocado. Both meals were really tasty and especially good when washed down with craft beer.
Map of the Best Craft Breweries in Calgary
Looking for more things to do in Calgary?
If you’re looking for beer, I think we have you covered in this guide to the best craft breweries in Calgary, but if you’re looking for more things to do, we’ve got you covered there as well. For more on things to do in the city, as well as nearby road trips, check out our travel guides below:
Thanks Matt for putting this together! Got to try some of these.
Great places to go and check out good beer!