Patio Season…. two magical words in Alberta’s all-too-short summer. So much so that grabbing the few scant seats available becomes of paramount importance on a sunny day.
But the good news is you can now add some new locations for your outdoor dining and drinking pleasure; the brewery patio. With the rate that breweries are popping up all over Alberta, they seem to be opening faster than new pubs and restaurants.
Now, all breweries are not created equal, and neither are their patios – many don’t have one at all. Some breweries are designed more for production, and therefore are often located in old warehouses or industrial areas, where the building’s design doesn’t allow for a patio to extend from their tasting room. Others may be in more public friendly neighbourhoods, but they might not have the necessary outdoor space.
Patios come in three varieties. Most commonly, they will be right outside at ground level. The second type is the rooftop patio. The third, and least common, is the inner courtyard. You will find all three amongst the 100 plus breweries in Alberta, which make for some great spots to enjoy their beer.
Below is a list created by an unscientific matrix consisting of a combination of decent size, exposure to sunlight, and the visual appeal of their surroundings. In the interests of full disclosure, I have not been to every brewery in Alberta, so there will be some who are left out.
Also, some breweries have retrofitted patios to their building since they first opened, and others are planning to do so at time of writing, so those may have been missed. Consider this list far from a complete guide, which means you should check out as many breweries as you can to see if they have one.
In no particular order, here are few worth visiting:
Half Hitch Brewing Company, Cochrane – Custom built breweries can design a building with a patio built in. This brewpub did just that, with a large south facing deck only a few metres from the Bow River.
Last Best Brewing and Distilling, Calgary – This gem is an inner courtyard hidden between two buildings in Calgary’s Beltline. It has a good size, receives a surprising amount of sunlight, and possesses a fireplace.
Siding 14 Brewing Company, Ponoka – The brewery was built to resemble an old railway station and has a partially covered large wooden deck on the south side plus a lawn patio too.
Blind Enthusiasm, Edmonton – This brewery created quite a nice multi-purpose locale just south of Whyte Avenue, and the widened sidewalk includes a west facing deck that is capable of being partially enclosed.
Grizzly Paw Brewpub, Canmore – The original location of Grizzly Paw on 8th Street in downtown Canmore is probably Alberta’s first brewery patio and still one of its best. Well sized, right on the sidewalk for great people watching, with mountain views in all directions that are hard to beat.
Wild Rose Brewpub, Calgary – When Wild Rose Brewery moved to Currie Barracks, they used the copious open land to create their large west facing terrace. While their main brewery was moved to east Calgary, this brewpub is a favourite of Calgarians from all parts of the city.
Ol’ Beautiful Brewing Co./Cold Garden Beverage Co., Calgary – Ok, so technically these are two separate breweries. However, by abutting each other, their two spaces together form one great location. While you can’t cross pollinate their patios with the other brewery’s beer, you can hop back and forth between the two; capacity permitting.
Situation Brewing, Edmonton – Located just off Whyte Avenue in Edmonton, this south facing sidewalk enclosure is a retreat in a city largely lacking in brewery patios.
Mill Street BrewPub, Calgary – Because it was built into an old house, they have more area than your average Beltline business. Here they have two large outdoor spaces: the front facing raised deck and the more secluded rear patio.
Citizen Brewing Company, Calgary – The best retrofitted patio in Calgary. Within the open space beside their brewery, Citizen has created an oasis in their neighbourhood, with room for 170 souls who can watch hops growing on the east fence.
Multiple Locations- Brewsters. Yes, they are a chain, and yes, they don’t have brewing systems in all ten locations. However, they are considered brewpubs and many have great patios. Of note are the rooftop patio at McKenzie Town (Calgary) and their Oliver Square (Edmonton) location, which in addition to its patio, also has one at their sister pub Beer Revolution across the parking lot.
Special Mention- Tool Shed Brewing Company, Calgary. While their tiny parking lot patio is best described as quaint, the effort they put in trying to obtain the permit from the city deserves recognition. To quote Otter from Animal House “… we could fight ’em with conventional weapons. That could take years and cost millions of lives. No, in this case, I think we have to go all out.” And they did, setting the precedent for other Calgary breweries to turn their parking lots into patios.