Alberta’s small craft breweries have been prospering ever since the provincial government made a change in the budget to promote local brews.
In late 2015, Alberta lowered the mark-up and liquor tax on local, small brewers which could allow the craft beer industry to grow past 20,000 hectalitres per year, The Canadian Press reported.
The change upset out of province producers, but made small, relatively unknown Alberta brews a seriously appealing option for consumers looking for a cheap drink.
Not only are these Alberta brewers inexpensive, but they've got uniquely delicious draughts. It looks to be a record-breaking hot summer — what better time to relax on a patio and sip a tasty local lager.
Here are nine Alberta craft breweries worth checking out:
Alley Kat Brewery
(Photo: Alley Kat)
Alley Kat is a beloved Alberta staple, and for good reason. The Edmonton micro-brewery's Scona Gold Kolsch took home gold in two categories at the Canadian Brewing Awards, bringing home the title of beer of the year for the province. The kolsch is described as a barley ale that's less hoppy than an IPA, with a crisp finish.
The Dandy Brewing Company
(Photo: Dandy Brewing Company)
Dandy is a Calgary nano-brewery that focuses on the science behind the brew. The company's ales are living, unfiltered and unpasteurized, which means they continue to ferment right up until the first sip.
The Dandy in the Underworld is described as a dark coloured but light bodied stout, with notes of coffee and chocolate.
The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company
Grizzly Paw was the first brewpub in Canada to start canning it's beers, and they are continually pushing boundaries.
Rundlestone Session Ale, pictured above sitting on the top of Rundle Mountain, is a light, bitter pale ale. The ale, like all of Grizzly Paw's brews, is made with glacier water.
Tool Shed Brewing Company
(Photo: Tool Shed Brewing Company)
Though Tool Shed is a small brewery, it definitely punches above its weight. The Calgary company is run by two best friends with a taste for good brew and a great sense of humour.
"Our friend Joe taught us that not everyone is born with People Skills so thankfully it now comes in a can," writes Tool Shed. People Skills lives up to the name — it's a smooth, dare we say "friendly" cream ale.
Troubled Monk Brewery
(Photo: Troubled Monk Brewery)
Troubled Monk is the newest brewery on the list, but it’s made a grand entrance. The Red Deer brewery recently took silver at the World Beer Cup in its category, beating out 81 other international beers. It also netted a gold, silver and bronze at the 2016 Canadian International Beer Awards.
(Photo: Village Brewery)
Yes, that's a photo of a beer float. Calgary's Village Brewery partnered up with local gelataria Fiasco Gelato to release a beer and sorbetto pairing. The Village Squeeze is a golden lager with notes of malt, lemon and fresh raspberries. Fiasco Squeeze sorbetto shares the same flavours — if you've got a sweet tooth, this is worth a try.
Jasper Brewing Co.
(Photo: Jasper Brewing Co.)
Jasper Brewing Co. was the first brewery to open in a Canadian national park. It's one of four brewing companies owned by Bearhill, a local chain that also has locations in Banff, Wood Buffalo and Calgary.
Jasper's lineup features delicious stouts and ales, and their beautiful labels are seriously cool.. They feature photos of landscapes around the area taken by Albertans (like the one pictured above).
A New Hope with Dark Side Schwarzbier from Something Brewin out of Red Deer pic.twitter.com/5YsYlLC2UF
— Devin Frebrowski (@drgoodandsexy) December 15, 2015
Something is brewing in Red Deer. Something Brewing's Dark Side beer definitely lives up to the name — the German black beer has some deep and intense flavours. Despite the name, the force is definitely with this brew.
Ribstone Creek Brewery
Ribstone Creek Brewery might be located in the tiny village of Edgerton, but it's beers have made a splash all across Alberta.
Their award-winning drinks are canned with gorgeous images of Alberta — prairies, bison and cowboys — on the label.
The Old Man Winter Porter has been a particular hit, taking home a silver medal at last year's Calgary Craft Beer Festival.
Like these picks? Think we missed one? Let us know in the comments!
Also on HuffPost:
Beer: Red Racer Pale Ale Brewery: Central City Brewing City: Surrey, British Columbia The Type: Imperial pale ales are hoppier than regular pale beers, originally thanks to the extra hops added in the United Kingdom to keep the beer fresh on its journey to British soldiers stationed in India. The Brew: Central City won Brewery of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Brewing Awards. The brewery describes the taste as "ruby red grapefruit, with depth of malt backbone."
Beer: Glutenberg Belgian Double Brewery: Brasseurs Sans Gluten City: Montreal, Quebec The Type: Traditional beer is definitely not gluten-free friendly, because it's made with barley (and sometimes wheat). The gluten-free beer offerings are still slim, but growing. The Brew: All of Brasseurs' brews are gluten free, made with grains like millet. Love strong, comforting tastes? This warm and spicy beer has notes of molasses, clove, and nutmeg, and 6.5 per cent alcohol.
Beer: Weissbier Brewery: Denisons Brewing Company City: Toronto, Ontario The Type: These beers are light and low on aftertaste, thanks to the use of wheat in brewing. The Brew: "Weissbier" is what they call wheat beer in Bavaria, and this beer from Denisons is a traditional Bavarian-style brew made with a special Bavarian yeast. It's been number one in the German Hefeweizen category on ratebeer.com for more than a decade.
Beer: Nutcracker Porter Brewery: Black Oak Brewery City: Etobicoke, Ontario The Type: Porters are dark like stouts, but generally sweeter and less hoppy. The Brew: Save this suggestion for the holiday season, when this dark cinnamon-spiced brew will be perfect with some figgy pudding—which Black Oak says is one of the flavours in this beer.
Beer: St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout Brewery: Brasserie McAuslan Brewery City: Montreal, Quebec The Type: These dark and rich beers often use unmalted roasted barley to give the beer a character kind of like coffee. The Brew: This beer is brewed from 40 per cent dark malts and roasted barley, but also has oatmeal to give it body and a mocha-coloured head.
Beer: Saison Station 16 Brewery: Hopfenstark City: L'Assomption, Quebec The Type: These highly carbonated beers were originally brewed in the cooler months in Belgium and then stored by farm workers to drink in the summer months. The Brew: This spring seasonal brew is Belgian style with citrus and clove aromas.
Beer: La Fin du Monde Brewery: Unibroue City: Clarington, Ontario The Type: Belgium has a centuries-old beer brewing tradition, and Belgian-style beers can be of several different varieties. The Brew: This beer with a floral bouquet has, so far, won more medals and awards than any other Canadian beer.
Beer: Meade Brewery: Applewood City: Stouffville, Ontario The Type: This ancient beverage is not exactly a beer: rather, it's a fermented honey and wine beverage that sometimes also contains grain mash and/or hops, which can give it a beer-like flavour. The Brew: If you're looking for a buzz, you'd get a good start reaching for this beverage, with a 20 per cent alcohol content.
Beer: Blueberry Cream Ale Brewery: Pumphouse Brewery City: Moncton, New Brunswick The Type: These tend to be ales, but have a different character because of the low bitterness and malt flavour required to let the fruit shine through. The Brew: East Coast blueberries are delicious, and this beer ads spicy notes to kick things up a notch.
Beer: Dooryard Organic Ale Brewery: Picaroons Traditional Ales City: Fredericton, New Brunswick The Type: When the weather is warm you want a seasonal brew that's clean and refreshing, like the ones in this category. The Brew: Picaroon's certified-organic summer ale, with three traditional wheat beer styles in the blend, won bronze at the Canadian Brewing Awards in 2009 and 2010.
Beer: Holy Smoke Scotch Ale Brewery: Church-Key Brewing Company City: Cambellford, Ontario The Type: These beers are given their smokey flavour through the use of malted barley dried over an open flame. The Brew: This peat-smoked Scotch ale is so dark that it's nearly black.
Beer: Oranje Weiss Brewery: Amsterdam Brewery City: Toronto, Ontario The Type: This Belgian-style beer is light and crisp that narrowly escaped extinction twice in the 20th century. The Brew: This seasonal brew is an unfiltered white, flavoured with orange peel, coriander, and anise.
Beer: Wee Heavy Scotch Ale Brewery: Amsterdam Brewery City: Toronto, Ontario The Type: These dark and strong beers are bittersweet and sometimes slightly metallic. The Brew: This ruby-red beer is available every winter, with a blend of five different malts to keep your belly warm.
Beer: Rye Pale Ale Brewery: Cameron's Brewing City: Oakville, Ontario The Type: Rye beers are made when a portion of the barley malt is replaced with rye, which is generally malted. The Brew: Part of Cameron's brewmaster series, this bittersweet beer has won several Canadian Brewing Awards, including a bronze in 2013.
Beer: Imperial I.P.A Brewery: Garrison Brewing Company City: Halifax, Nova Scotia The Type: Copper coloured and fruity, these beers are originally from England. The Brew: Garrison bills this as "the hoppiest beer in Atlantic Canada." Depending on your taste for hops, that either sounds great or awful. If you're a hophead, this is your brew.
Beer: Pilsner Brewery: King Brewery City: Nobleton, Ontario The Type: These beers have a more distinctive hop taste than other lagers, with a dry and somewhat bitter flavour. The Brew: King imports the Bohemian malts used to brew this Czech-style beer, which won a silver medal in 2013 at the Canadian Brewing Awards.
Beer: Fighting Irish Red Brewery: Yellow Belly City: St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador The Type: Thick bodied and amber or red coloured, depending on the particular brew used. The Brew: Billed as the brewery's most complex beer, Yellow Belly's red brew has notes like burnt toast and strawberry jam.
Beer: Traditional Ale Brewery: Big Rock Brewery City: Calgary, Alberta http://www.bigrockbeer.com/sites/default/files/images/beer/main/beer-bottle-traditional.png The Type: Look for caramel and chocolate flavours, sometimes with a slight citrus accent. The Brew: This beer was first brewed in 1985 with the goal of creating an English-style beer that was markedly different from the typical Canadian bottle.
Beer: Black Cat Brewery: Paddock Wood Brewing Co. City: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan The Type: Lagers are aged longer, which gives them a smooth finish. These are the world's most popular beers. The Brew: This beer with "delicate coffee notes" comes from Saskatchewan's first microbrewery.
Beer: Lug Tread Brewery: Beau's All Natural Brewing Company City: Vankleek Hill, Ontario The Type: This German style of beer has a noticeable hoppiness without being extreme, and is not as bitter as regular German pale lager. The Brew: Beau's flagship brew is a tribute to the classic beer of Cologne, Germany. It's top fermented like an ale and then cold aged like a lager.