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Jan 2, 2009 11:33 AM

Perfect Pint in Calgary

Are there any restos/bars in Calgary that specialize in cuisine a la biere? Any recommended spots to have a pint of good brew - craft or otherwise? I am researching an article on beer bars in Calgary and would love a local perspective.

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  1. I would recommend giving the Wildwood a try.

    1. I just remembered that the Wildrose Brew Pub near the Farmers Market is also pretty good.

      1. Brewsters serves craft beer, its pretty darn good.
        The location in Bonavista has a "family side" too. Its nice to find a place with good beers and great food where you can take the kids and enjoy a night out, pub style.

        1. For me there are only 2 places for beer in Calgary (I'm open to suggestions though!).

          Wild Rose Brewery has a pub in the Currie Barracks. It's set on the other side of the brewery (separated by a glassless window) and they serve all of their beers on tap. You know it's fresh, and Wild Rose is my pick for the best brewery in Alberta (Edmonton beer folk might disagree... Alley Kat is pretty good too!). I had their stout a couple of weeks ago and it was perfect for the -30°C weather outside.

          The second pub I'm a big fan of is the Hop 'n Brew at 213 12 Ave SW. Lots of local taps to try. They have a contract brew named Gold Spur that is potent. It's a tripel (I've heard various reports on where it's actually brewed. Alley Kat may in fact be the brewer) that sits at 9%... and they serve it as a pint. Deadly. It's situated in an old house and the pub is in both the main and upper floors where there are lots of nooks and crannies to chat with your drinking companions. Prime real estate in the summer is the balcony upstairs where you can watch all the people stream into the local establishments (some of which have interesting clientele). Be warned though, this place can be a bit loud and it's in a semi-seedy area (though it's really not that bad).

          Wildwood beers are alright, but I've had absolutely terrible service in the bar section downstairs. Not only is it a basement with no windows that I can remember... I've only ever had terrible service which seems to have stemmed from the understaffing of the bar. The place was packed and there was a bartender who was usually AWOL and a poor waitress running around. She was apologetic, but it definitely hurt my opinion of the place.

          I've never had a problem with Brewsters. Beer is pretty good, but it's not my favorite spot in town.

          3 Replies
          1. re: peter.v

            I agree with your assessment of Wildwood. The service isn't bad, it's downright hostile as well as incompetent. I went to get some beer refills, and even though it was the middle of the afternoon and the place was empty, it took 3-4 minutes for the bartender to serve me, despite having called on him. He was belligerent about doing the refills and I had to escalate to the manager just to get the refills. Normally they either take the old bottles and provide clean ones, or rinse the bottles with their bottle washer before filling them. This man did neither, and charged the deposit again despite the fact that I'd brought my own bottles. I will never return.

            1. re: itwillmakeaturd

              Huh? Refills? Deposit for bottles? I've only been there a few times but it seemed just like any other pub. Pints in glassware, no deposit, (no refills, either, you had to pay for the next beer like any other place).

              Are you talking about takeout beer? I didn't know they did that.

              1. re: hsk

                Yes, they do takeout beer. It's not worth the bother, even if you are already there and want beer. The beer itself is alright if you can get it, but there are so many good beers in this world that you needn't waste your time. The food there is average - it didn't make me angry, but it's not good.

          2. Seconding Hop n' Brew. Wildwood's beers aren't bad, but I'd avoid Brewsters. Also, the Ship and Anchor has the most taps in town (I think that's still the case). Wild Rose's brews can be outstanding, but can also be batchy.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Leibowitz

              Does anyone have comments on Belgo? Have read a lot of negative comments with regards to price and service but there are alot of positive comments as well on sites such as beer advocate. Any opinions out there?

              1. re: WINEWOLF

                The beer at Belgo is great, but the food not so. I find the prices very high and the food just average. I have had an amazing brunch there on Mother's Day, but aside from that have always been disappointed by their food.

                1. re: WINEWOLF

                  I had always dismissed Belgo despite having a Belgian beer selection (in bottles as is the case in Canada, not taps as far as I am aware, correct me if I'm wrong there!). There is no way I'm going to pay $13 for a bottle of Westmalle or Chimay. Not when it can be had at the liquor store for under $5. The place is a Paul Vickers establishment, where I've found the food to be incredibly overpriced, service is nothing special, unless you count cleavage as a plus. It does look like they've overhauled that beer menu in recent times though to add more Belgians. Good on them.

                  1. re: peter.v

                    "There is no way I'm going to pay $13 for a bottle of Westmalle or Chimay. Not when it can be had at the liquor store for under $5"

                    You can't be serious. 2.5 to 3 times markup on beer is normal, a $5 bottle of domestic beer only costs $1.50 at the liquor store.

                    1. re: hsk

                      I am absolutely serious. My idea of going to a bar is to have some good beers that I can't get at home. Since I haven't yet invested in a draught system, I can't get beer on tap at home. Having a server crack open a bottle of a trappist ale and maybe pouring it (I've had bartenders leave me to my own devices with Belgians...) whether with proper technique or not, is not an experience I am willing to pay $13 for, especially not at Belgo.

                      Maybe my biggest objection to the price is that I've had every beer on their list. I am quite familiar with the offerings, and as good as a beautiful trappist ale is, I really don't think they're worth more than $10 a bottle (which I have paid before for similar but harder to find abbey ales). I think that if some of the beer they had was in fact rare and not available in most liquor stores that carry any sort of decent beer, I would have better opinions of the pricing.

                      I don't know, maybe I'm just being silly and I should wake up to the reality of import beer pricing. You still won't catch me drinking them there. Not when a couple of true pints of Goldspur can be had down the road at the Hop for less than one bottle of the trappist offerings at Belgo.

                2. re: Leibowitz

                  I totally agree with you on all points Leibowitz.