Breweries in Edmonton haven’t been opening at the breakneck pace they have in Calgary, but a series of recent openings is a sign the craft beer scene in the capital is gaining momentum. What’s even more encouraging is that the newcomers are in a variety of locations, and each brings something different to the marketplace.
Just off Kingsway Avenue, the owners of the Growlery Beer Company are hoping to become the local beer for residents of Blatchford as the new community rises from the rubble of the old municipal airport.
With no immediate plans to package its beer, the Growlery is focused on a rotating lineup that’s available at its cozy (and dog-friendly!) taproom.
“We wanted to be in a position where you see your community built around you,” says co-owner Kevin Danard, who opened the taproom with business partner Jeff Pollock in June.
The Growlery started with approachable offerings like a pale ale and a brown ale — a nod, say Danard and Pollock, to a market that’s still discovering craft beer. They plan some darker styles for the colder days ahead, and Danard says they’re also looking forward to more experimentation.
West Edmonton is home to SYC Brewing, which stands for Show Your Colours. In addition to going for something short and memorable, co-founder Richard Fyk says he and his partners, Parker and Andrea Pysyk, wanted a name that reflected craft beer’s diversity of styles and flavours.
“Each beer has its own personality,” he says.
SYC has been living up to its name with a wide range of well-made beers spanning the style spectrum, including a slate of hazy pale ales and IPAs, to a Belgian saison and a German-style pilsner.
There are a couple emerging mainstays (the Fjord NEIPA has been a consistent member of the canned lineup) but Fyk says the plan is to keep a rotating lineup that changes with the seasons. Look for SYC’s first barrel-aged beers in December.
Downtown Edmonton’s newest brewery is Campio Brewing, the latest in a family of establishments from Bearhill Brewing, which owns brewpubs in Jasper, Calgary and Banff.
Bearhill’s approach to each pub is to develop a line-up that reflects the local character, and lets customers decide which beers stick around by “voting with their mouths,” says company co-founder Socrates Korogonas.
“Edmonton’s got this vibrant arts community that mixes with the blue collar side,” he says.
That duality has provided the inspiration for what could be Bearhill’s biggest and most ambitious lineup to date.
There’s Campio All Malt Lager at one end; a canned beer that hit the market several months before the pub opened. It’s a crisp, well-made lager that can please the Bud crowd while also earning approving nods from more experienced palates.
Alongside approachable and more conventional offerings, Campio also has wooden foeders and barrels for aging sour styles and complex beers that will appeal to adventurous beer fans.
“It’ll be a really fun program where we have everything from the lager to annual vintages of aged sours,” Korogonas says.