Last Best Brewing & Distilling Brewpub Inc
By Bob Keelaghan

Community Beers

Last Best Brewing and Distilling is an eatery and brew pub that takes the notion of local identity to heart in the beers it pours and the food it puts on the plate. Its IPA and the Show Pony Pale Ale are familiar draft selections at pubs around town. However, a visit to the Last Best home base behind the conspicuous yellow door in the redbrick-and-sandstone building at the corner of Fifth Street and 11th Avenue Southwest offers craft-beer lovers a view of the fermenting tanks where it's made. In view of the brewing equipment, patrons quaff pints of Last Best's craftily named mainstay beers such as There Will Be Porter, Olsch Kolsch B’Golsch and Dirty Bird Black Lager.

“They’re not our beers. They’re the community’s,” says co-owner and beer philosopher Socrates Korogonas. Whether that’s the aforementioned on-tap staples or its ever-changing menu of seasonal craft beers, the approach is, in a sense, a collaboration between Last Best management, brewers and customers. The pub setting generates “an immediate feedback loop” between beer drinker and maker says Socrates.

“We really want to know what Calgarians appreciate, and if you are only going to give them one IPA, how are they going to know if they like another one better? We want to give them a lot of variety,” he explains from a stool at the expansive central bar. While he philosophizes, brewer Kyle Smythe tends to the fermenting tanks behind the glass on the opposite side of the restaurant-pub.

They're not our beers. They're the community's - Socrates Korogonas
Last Best Brewing and Distilling is a handsomely decorated bar and restaurant.
Last Best's craft beer selection is brewed are right beside its pub and dining room

Elevated Pub Food, Quality Alberta Ingredients

The other objective of Last Best Brewing and Distilling is to complement good beer with good food that also has a local identity. “We gear the menu towards what we have in Alberta; what’s raised or grown here,” chef Adam Trotchie adds to Socrates’s credo. Summer produce is supplied by local urban farmers Grand Trunk Veggies, while meats are sourced from regional hormone- and antibiotic-free farm producers such as Rangeland and Black Apron. Fish, though not local, is certified Ocean Wise for sustainability.

The venue's elevated comfort food incorporates these authentic tastes of Alberta in its bison tartare, wild boar ragu, burgers and steaks served daily from lunchtime through the evening hours. Those looking for something different in weekend brunch can sample the pork-knuckle hash and smoked bone marrow on toast in one of two huge, family-friendly dining rooms that feature dangling chandeliers. As well, the place features a spacious, summertime patio.

Last Best Brewing and Distilling serves a selection of house-brewed beers.
Customers can take home a growler of their favourite Last Best draft beer

More Than a Brew Pub, It's A Community

And as much as the Last Best community philosophy is about creating uniquely Calgarian craft beers, the brew pub also believes in giving back. Often, it brews seasonal beers for charity organizations, which sometimes literally take a hand in making stuff. “We did Not Your Father’s Lager to celebrate the 75th year of the United Way,” recounts manager Chad Salyn. “Some of the women in the office came down and brewed it with us. Two dollars of every pint from the first batch went to them.”

Be it local craft beer, food or outreach, Salyn summarizes the symbiotic nature of Last Best this way “Our philosophy is:  Take care of the community, and it will take care of us.”

Last Best Brewing and Distilling features a bright-yellow front door.
Last Best Brewing and Distilling is located on the corner of Fifth Street and 11th Avenue Southwest behind the big, yellow door
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