Happy Wednesday everyone! I’ve decided to do away with the Winesday Wednesday series….but only the title. I’ll still be posting about craft beer, spirits and wine on Wednesdays (when I have material), but I just didn’t want to sound too specific in the series name. WAIT—> I could do Boozeday Tuesday. Hmm, I’ll have to think about that.
So today I wanted to share with you something that’s relatively new to the area: Calgary Brewery Tours.
There are currently two different tours they run. One is the Calgary Craft Beer Tour which includes tours and tastings at five breweries, a souvenir pint glass, snacks/water, lunch and transportation.
The other is the Spirit of Alberta Tour which hits three different locations (they are outside of the City that’s why there’s only three), snacks/water, souvenir pint glass and transportation.
I was in touch with Layna, the Social Media Manager for the tour company and she was kind enough to get me a spot of the Spirit of Alberta Tour…which just so happened to fall on Mother’s Day. At first, I didn’t really want to go on what was supposed to be a ‘me’ day, but then I thought it would be a great way to actually get some ‘me’ time- and by doing something I love!
The meeting spot was in front of the Calgary Tower downtown at 11:45am. A nice van pulled up (to be differentiated from the sketchy unmarked vans that usually offer children candy. Sorry, had to put a little humor in here somewhere!) and we were all greeted by our driver for the day as well as presented with our goodie bags.
Soon, we were ready to go and headed off to our first stop. Along the way, the driver was giving us a lot of information about certain buildings or areas as we passed them. It was really interesting- sometimes you have no idea about some of the cool stuff that has happened where you live!
Our first stop was at Big Rock Brewery. Man alive, do they have a beautiful piece of property. We headed straight upstairs to the tasting room and were given a brief history of the brewery as well as a few samples of our choosing. The room was really light and airy and made me want to book it for an event. Now if only I had an event to book…
There’s something about beer in tiny glasses that gets me giddy.
After a few samples, we were led over to the warehouse where we could see the fermentation tanks, learn about malt/barley, and see their filtering and bottling/canning machines. It was so big and clean and well laid out FOR A CARFT BEER facility, I loved it!
After getting a nice and thorough tour for each part of the beer-making process, we headed back to the tasting room for a couple more samples before loading back onto the van to headed to our next destination.
I didn’t know until after we left the brewery that we were able to drink on the van once we left city limits. One of the other passenger was kind enough to let me bum a cider off of her. Yay!
The next location was the Chinook Honey Company. There, we briefly sat and learned about bees and how honey is made before heading over to the warehouse where they make and bottle their various meads.
It was quite the contrast from the large scale brewery we had just toured, and it was really interesting to see how much more hands on these guys were by hand filling and labeling each bottle of mead.
The mead was really tasty- some dry, some fruity, and some spicy! I left with two bottles…one to take home and one to drink on the dang van! Thank goodness the driver had a corkscrew handy.
En route to our third and final stop, we passed by the actual big rock (part of how the brewery got its name)
Our last stop of the day was in Turner Valley at the Eau Claire Distillery. This place was pretty neat. Plus, I had never been to a distillery before, so I was very curious to know more about the process. The coolest thing about Eau Claire is that they are Alberta’s first independent distillery.
After a brief introduction, we were treated to a 6 minute video that told much more of their story- the crops are horse farmed so the final product is really made with extreme care. Pretty neat!
In addition to seeing where the liquors are made, we also got to take a peak of the barrel room where their whiskey is aging…..and just waiting for me to drink it.
Once the tour was complete, was sat in the front room and were able to take some samples of each of their liquors. Then, we got to choose a cocktail from their menu- I chose a Caesar. Extra spicy.
I’d love to go back to check out more of their cocktails, but Turner Valley is just way too dang far from home to drive for a drink(s) and be safe about it. So it was pretty great that I was able to visit them through the brewery tour with a designated driver. Score.
That rounded out our tour and we were driven back to the Calgary Tower. It’s always sad when fun events like this are over, but I was starving from a long day out on the road and was anxious to get home for dinner. That said, the only con of this tour is that there is no food! We did get snacks, but a good meal would have been so much better.
If you’re a Calgarian or ever come visit Calgary, I highly recommend checking out The Spirit of Alberta tour or the Craft Beer Tour. Both are great ways to not only sample some delicious Alberta-produced beverage, but to also learn about the families behind each product.