As the trend to make alcohol in-house grows in the Bow Valley, we decided to go back to the first of their kind, the Grizzly Paw Brewing Co, to see what they’ve done in 21 years of business, beers and brewing. The best way to learn, of course, is to do. So we took one of their brewery tours to gain hard-earned knowledge of the beverage, aided by samples.
1. First and Foremost
The Grizzly Paw is the oldest brewery in Canmore. Established as a brew pub in 1996, the Grizzly Paw initially only made enough beer to keep their taps in the pub flowing. It didn’t take long for their product to tickle the fancy of their patrons, and a year later, they expanded to become a microbrewery. Small batch beers and seasonal lagers are still brewed in the original pub, where you can also tuck into a warm meal.
2. Brew with a View
In 2011, the Grizzly Paw started building their new brewing facility, where we took the tour. The building is influenced by the Sydney Opera House (an ode to the area’s many Australian residents?) and the surrounding mountains.
3. Sustainable Suds
Besides being a beautiful structure, the brewing facility is also eco-friendly. The Grizzly Paw sourced the wood from the most sustainably logged forest in North America, and the roof was made with recycled rubber. With Bullfrog Energy, all the energy they use to power the brewery is matched with energy from renewable resources, making them a carbon-neutral facility – one of three in Canada.
4. Award-winning Ale
On the tour, we sampled four beers. The first was the Powderhound Blonde Ale. It started its life as a pilsner, but the recipe was altered slightly to make it a blonde ale. And the revision snagged a gold award at the 2016 Canadian Brewers Awards for best in class for North American blonde or amber style beer. It’s very light, a little hoppy, and the closest beer to a lager you can get at Grizzly Paw (outside of Octoberfest).
5. Worth the Wait
The Grizzly Paw doesn’t just brew beer. It ages beer. Depending on what kind of flavour they are going for and the barrels they use, the pub and brewery can make a bourbon-aged barrel, a scotch-aged, a gin-aged, and a rum-aged beer. Their barley wine beer in particular can take two years to age properly. It’s still a beer, but at the strength of a wine at an alcohol level of 10 per cent, it really packs a punch.
They also make soda. In fact, they have a brewer of soda. Made with cane sugar, this fizzy beverage comes in many flavours – which the staff like to mix. They’re a great option for kids and anyone who doesn’t drink beer.
7. Only in Alberta
Unless you have an unusually generous friend delivering you a boozy care package, you can only get Grizzly Paw beer in Alberta — all the more reason to stop by the pub and brewery while you’re in the area.
Since we don’t want to give too much away (and sampling beer might have made our memory of the tour a bit fuzzy), don’t be afraid to take a tour for yourself!
And don’t underestimate those sample sizes! Make sure you have a safe plan to get to your next destination. You can blame this one on the altitude.