New beer halls are testament to a penchant for fancy international beers

Calgarians are trading their stemware for high-end pint glassware at a series of new establishments across the city.

Consumer thirsts are evolving towards high-end beers where we are seeing more people opting for a variety of different brews over the more popular commercial brands.

“The growth of the craft beer market is a phenomenon, North America wide. It is driven by a combination of changes in regulation and consumer demand,” David Finch, an associate professor at Mount Royal University, said.

Finch has a professional and personal interest in trends in Calgary. With a master’s degree in the field of marketing relationships, he is also an expert at understanding consumer trends.

From a consumer perspective, Finch believes the beer market is simply expanding to reflect their diverse needs.

 “Firstly, as consumers we prefer choice. Secondly, we like to experiment and try new things. Lastly, we have an affinity to our com- munity. The combination of these three have created a market opportunity, in which passionate local craft brewers are responding,” Finch said.

A server at Wurst balances five pints in one hand and Das Boot, two litres of high quality German beer, in the other.

Photo courtesy of Wurst Restaurant and Beer and Beer HallHotspots, like Wurst Restaurant and Beerhall, National and Craft Beer Market have started a trend in Calgary, providing taste seekers with an array of different cold ones from around the world – in a grandiose environment, but without the pricey cost of travel.

Wurst is nestled in the popular Mission area at 2437 4th St. S.W., and serves oom-pah German inspired foods alongside its drink menu. The bar, along with many other businesses in the neighbourhood was shut down after being hit hard by the June 2013 flood. It reopened just six months later with some new renovations, and a some old furnishings salvaged from the flood.

The basement floor boasts a grand beer hall complete with communal tables and boots of beer, to provide an authentic German style experience. The upstairs dining room is beautifully decorated with twinkling lights and a slightly dimmed, warm setting.

Wurst is home of Das Boot – a two-litre glass boot filled with beer, which is a popular choice for Calgarians. But just remember, you must tilt the boot when the beer hits the heel or you’ll be wearing the beer all over yourself. For $40, a two-liter boot filled with Erdinger Weissbier from Erding, Germany, could be yours.

At Wurst, the most opulent beer is the $10 Schnider Aventinus offered in a 500ml bottle. The Aventinus is a strong, dark dopplebock, and it tastes malty and isn’t too bitter.

Andrea Wales, manager at Wurst, explained the dopplebock as “a strong lager. Dopple means double, so, it is a double strong lager, with the ABV (alcohol by volume) being 12 per-cent it has quite the kick to it.”

Wales added that people tend to be more aware of what they consume these days, and enjoy nice spaces to drink and try these brews, like the popular dopplebock.

National, a contemporary beer hall at 341 10th Ave. SW, is another hotspot for beer lovers in the city. The largest of four National locations in the city, this beer hall also has a large offering of brews, serving 72 different beers.

The National beer hall on 10 Ave. SW has 72 beers on tap and an eight-lane bowling alley.

Photo courtesy of NationalInside the establishment, the design is based off an old train station, with an old-style train board constantly cycling the beer menu, and small oak casks that line the wall behind the bar.

Tables for two to six guests line the front window and offer prime people watching real estate.

National also boasts an eight-lane bowling alley tucked away on the lower level.

Chris Joyce, National’s beer specialist, believes that there has been such a large flood of thirsty beer enthusiasts because “Calgarians want to experience something different. The Calgary consumer is all grown up,” Joyce added.

All of National’s 72 beers are priced at $8.50 for a 20 oz pint and they’re selected exclusively from Canada, USA and Mexico – with most coming from Alberta breweries.

“Many Calagrians enjoy beers that go along with the Canadian palate,” National manager, Rich Becker, said.

The most popular brewskie is Mill Street Organic, a smoothlager from Toronto with a flavour profile that does not have a lot of peaks and valleys.

Becker added that if you enjoy Mill Street then you would likely enjoy the Phillips, Analogue 78 Kolche. This Kolche is a light, crisp ale, but is in the lager taste aspect of things. Simply put, ales and lagers use different yeasts that give the beers different taste profiles, but sometimes a lager can wind up aligning in taste to an ale.

A flight of six pints offered by Craft ranging from light to dark.

Photo courtesy of Craft Beer MarketRight next door, Craft Beer Market is also depending on beer lovers to tap into the whopping 108 beers on tap. Entering Craft is a sight for any beer lover’s sore eyes and keeps people coming back time after time.

Behind a massive showcased glass wall, you’ll find the base of their operation. Countless kegs are tapped and feed to a great system of chrome pipes that snakes up and across the ceiling, finally making its way to its destination down behind a huge oval bar.

“Calgarians keep coming back because of Craft’s top quality selection from around the world.
We love introducing new beers to Calgary,” Craft Beer Market’s representative, Bethany Graburn, said.

The most popular beers from Craft are from the Deschutes line and ring in at $9.25 a pint.
A secondary favourite is the $9.25 St. Bernardus Witbier, a Belgian white ale, light in colour, and is slightly hoppy.

afish@cjournal.ca