Brewery tours are a common way for Calgarians to enjoy all that the local craft beer industry has to offer, but COVID-19 has changed the tour landscape with Spud offering Backyard Brewery Tours and Pedal Pub having to slightly modify the way they operate.
Spud’s Backyard Brewery Tours aren’t what most people would traditionally call a tour — with no guide and no leaving the house required. The company delivers small variety packs of beers from local breweries for customers to enjoy at home.
“The idea is you get a couple of beer from four different breweries and you get to enjoy them in the privacy of your backyard or home and you do it safely and respecting social distancing,” says Paul McGreevy, director of food and liquor at Spud.
They currently offer four different packages in Calgary, three of them including eight beers from four Calgary breweries, and the other offering eight beers from eight different breweries throughout Alberta. The customer doesn’t get to pick what kinds of beers will be included, but McGreevy says that’s kind of the point.
“When you go in, you don’t always have that beer that you want. You know, they tap out. So it is a true experience right?” he says.
“You may not get what you want but you know if it’s the brewery you love, you’re gonna just get a really great beer made by a great team.”
Spud does their best to include a variety of styles in each pack, allowing the customer to get a true tour-like experience.
“What we’re trying to do is give a balanced brewery tour,” says McGreevy.
With each purchase of a Backyard Brewery Tour, the company is also donating $2 to Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, a charity that aims to bring healthy lunches to kids in the city, and the three Calgary brewery packs also include a discount coupon for a Pedal Pub tour.
Pedal Pub is a great way to get out and experience local breweries in person for those who are looking for something to do outside of their homes. Though they weren’t included in phase one of Alberta’s relaunch, they are back open now.
“We took special steps, so we were included on kind of a late phase-two open,” says John Reid, operating partner at Pedal Pub Calgary.
Under normal circumstances Pedal Pub can have between eight and 15 guests at a time, but with the ongoing pandemic they’re now offering space for a maximum of 12.
“That was through a lot of coordination with Alberta Health Services — to allow 12 to the table [and] everything from measurements of where people are sitting on the bike, to how cohorts are screened,” says Reid.
“We’re a unique business and Alberta Health Services recognized that we required a unique set of rules.”
With constant sanitization and a variety of other new health safety protocols onboard the Pedal Pub, they are having to work closely with their brewery partners to accommodate their guests though, as taprooms can only have a maximum of six people per table.
“We actually have to have two tables saved for us at each brewery venue, which is part of why it’s so difficult, cause now these breweries are having to give up two tables of seating in order to accommodate us.”
Other than that, though, Reid says the experience will be largely the same for guests as pre-COVID.
“We’re still entertaining guests, we’re still having them visit the same areas of the city, it’s just we have to be much more prescriptive in where we visit.”
Prior to the pandemic, Pedal Pub’s host would normally be able to pick breweries that they thought the group would enjoy once they arrived, but now there is less flexibility with most of the planning needing to be done ahead of time.
Despite a little bit less flexibility though, the rest of the experience remains largely unchanged for guests.
“COVID has been a trying time and we are a great way to get outside, and enjoy the re-open, and support local and get a chance to be a part of some of the best breweries in the city,” says Reid.
Whether you feel comfortable enough to hop on a Pedal Pub and experience craft beer in person, or you prefer to stay home and enjoy some brews delivered by Spud, local breweries are sure to appreciate the support.
“We can still have great beers in our backyard and still support these guys,” says McGreevy.