The opening of new establishments like Beer Revolution, National and Craft Beer Market in the past year has brought craft beer to the masses. I love these places and, on any given day, chances are pretty good that you could find me at one of them.
But these places do not have a monopoly on great beer — in fact, it can be found in places you’d never even think to look. Next time you’re searching for suds, remember these less likely locales:
• Kawa Espresso Bar (1333 8 St. S.W., kawacalgary.ca) serves award-winning coffee, but it also boasts a menu of dozens of great brews — including some that are not available anywhere else in Calgary — all hand selected by wine and beer consultant and man-about-town Alex Zisman. In addition to managing the beer offerings at Kawa, he arranges for tastings by visiting brewers and beer pairing dinners in partnership with Q Haute.
• Design District Urban Tavern (607 11 Ave. S.W., districttavern.ca) is a foodie’s paradise. The restaurant uses local ingredients whenever possible and features a constantly changing menu . And you can enhance your fantastic meal with great beer. Design District features about a dozen taps — including a set of house beers brewed on the premises by Brew Brothers Brewing Company. A dozen or so other craft beers are also offered in bottles.
• Thai Pagoda (1306 Bow Valley Trail, Canmore) is, obviously, a Thai restaurant. Strangely, it is run by an Austrian, and it serves about 30 of the best beers available in Alberta. They’re listed on a menu that includes tasting notes to help you find your way, with hints such as hops are the spice of beer, so hoppy beers often go well with spicy foods, or lighter beers with high levels of carbonation help to refresh the palate. Whatever your preference, you’ll find a good one at Thai Pagoda. This is, most likely, the best Austrian-owned, beer-focused Thai restaurant in the world.
• Oak & Vine (1030 16 Ave N.W., oakandvine.ca). In terms of liquor stores, beer lovers will tell you to visit the big names such as Willow Park Wines & Spirits, Zyn, Kensington Wine Market and Co-op Liquor Stores to satisfy your thirst for new and interesting brews. Good advice, but Oak & Vine, a small store, boasts a large cooler and a wall of great selections. It even has a selection of single bottles from which you can mix and match your very own six pack for $16.99.