Calgary Beer is making a comeback as Village Brewery is reviving the 129-year old iconic brand.
A city landmark for decades, the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company was established in 1892, quickly making a name for itself as the first city brewery. Although its initial beer sold to market was called Calgary Export Lager, it’s affectionately remembered as Calgary Beer.
“I could always recognize the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company’s logo — the bison heads and horseshoes were iconic,” said Josh Traptow, the executive director of Heritage Calgary.
The brewery was a big part of people’s lives for many decades, surviving the Great Depression and two World Wars.
“Calgarians probably have a remembrance of the Calgary Beer,” he said.
David Mittelstadt, a historical consultant, says that the brewery was a very important part of Calgary in the early 1900’s. It contributed to the economy by bringing in countless jobs and was run by a Calgarian family remembered for their contributions to the city. As well, it was just a very popular beer.
“It was the beer that everyone drank,” Mittelstadt said. “It was the local brewery, at a time when regional breweries really had a very strong presence on the local market.”
However, as time went on, the brewery was absorbed by a larger player, he said. Canadian Breweries, from Ontario, was expanding quickly throughout the country and bought out the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company in 1961.
“What really doomed Calgary Brewing and Malting Company was simply that it had grown to be a major regional player, but it didn’t take that next step before other companies that had — which came to acquire it.”
Now, Village Brewery has taken the brand and reimagined it for the modern craft beer drinker, Jeremy McLaughlin said, the head brewer at Village.
When creating the beer, it was important for Mclaughlin to use as many local ingredients as possible. The beer aims to pay respect to its inspiration while adding onto the recipe and making it more appealing as the quality of beer has increased since the late 1800s.
The beer is about celebrating the heritage of Calgary, while reinvigorating it for the modern public, he said.
“I think that the beer is such a winner. I think the brand is such a winner,” said McLaughlin. “It’s such a historical brand, and it means a lot.”