The micro-breweries in the mountains of Alberta have the best not-so-secret ingredient – glacial water! Cool, clean mountain water and all the minerals that come with it is combined with hops and malts sourced from around the world, with extraordinary results.
Picking the right beer for the occasion is tricky. Will it be a Jasper the Bear Ale after skiing at Marmot in Jasper National Park? A Reverend Rundle Stout in Banff after climbing the Via Ferrata at Mount Norquay? Or, a Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat in Canmore after a spectacular hike to Grassi Lakes?
The Jasper Brewing Company in Jasper, the Banff Ave. Brewing Co in Banff and the Grizzly Paw Brewery in Canmore are all craft breweries offering up unique brews paired with delicious food to slowly savour together.
Three Friends Decide to Brew
When three local buddies decided their home town of Jasper needed a craft brewery they took up the challenge and created the first brewery in a Canadian national park. Did they know what they were doing? Not entirely, but their youthful enthusiasm carried them through and now their Jasper Brewing Company on busy main-street is a favourite pub for après ski fare.
While we can agree on which seasonal ales to try, we never agree on what to eat. The menu is a cut above your standard pub grub, with a flair for fresh, quality ingredients. Sharing many items seems to solve our dilemma.
A Brewery above Banff Avenue
I have a weakness for the Old School Poutine – piping hot golden chips and fresh cheese curds, topped with a light gravy – at the Banff Ave. Brewing Co and I’ll drive the ninety minutes from Calgary just to have it. While digging through the Quebec cheese curds and gravy-drenched fries I’ll sip a pint of the Bow River Pilsner. My husband likes the burgers that almost topple off the plate but can never choose a beer so he orders them all. The 6x6 Sampler lets him taste all the beer brewed right behind the big glass wall. If it’s a warm summer day, we linger on the second floor deck overlooking Banff Avenue and watch the world go by.
Tasty Tours at the Grizzly Paw
Only fifteen minutes east of Banff in Canmore is The Grizzly Paw Restaurant and it has been a family favourite for years. The kids always order a burger and a bottomless beer – a root beer soft drink that is! Not only does The Grizzly Paw brew a half dozen unique beers they also brew soft drinks that are served on tap.
A few years back, the need for expansion opened the door to an opportunity to move the brewery to its own building. What looks like an oversized log cabin with three floors of windows is actually the brewery. From Friday to Sunday, they offer hour-long tours. We signed up for a tour and while we learned about the brews, we sampled three new flavours, giving us plenty of reasons to return.
Whichever Canadian Rockies brew pub you find yourself in, you’re in for a refreshing experience.