Wild Rose Brewery Taproom
By Bob Keelaghan

The Big Brother of Calgary's Craft Brewers

Established in 1996, Wild Rose Brewery brews six bottled beer labels, three additional styles of draft, a range of seasonal and barrel-aged beers and maintains Wild Rose Brewery Taproom, a bar and restaurant at its Currie Barracks facility that showcases its brews and serves farm-to-table food. The brewer is the ever-evolving big brother of Alberta’s growing craft beer scene. Velvet Fog wheat ale and Wraspberry Ale have become staple servings at Wild Rose Brewery Taproom as well as at numerous city pubs and can be found on the shelves of Alberta liquor stores.

I’m always excited when we have a new, seasonal beer. - Brian Smith, brewmaster
Wild Rose Brewery Taproom features a brewing facility.
Patrons of Wild Rose Brewery Taproom can watch brewers working on their latest seasonal beers.

A Brewery and Brew Pub, or Vice Versa

“I always love what’s new,” says brewmaster Brian Smith. “I’m always excited when we have a new, seasonal beer.” To that end, Wild Rose Brewery Taproom keeps things fresh with its limited edition seasonal and barrel-aged beers as well as its tried and true brews.

To meet burgeoning demand, the bulk of Wild Rose brewing is now done at its Foothills Industrial Park facility, but its bar and restaurant on the Currie Barracks serves as its research and development centre for seasonal beers. Inside this converted quonset hut, one notices the big copper vats housed behind the bar. Patrons quaff pints while watching brewery staff make Alberta Crude Oatmeal Stout, Wred Wheat Ale and S.O.B. English Pale Ale solely for Alberta’s draft taps. They also work on the shape of beers to come.

“We do test runs for our seasonal beers there,” says Brian. “We leave the brewers to their imaginations. If he’s got a new idea, we discuss it, then tell him 'go for it.'”

The Wild Rose Brewery Taproom is where Cowbell was developed based on a brewer’s encounter with an unusual American craft beer. Known as a kettle sour beer, Cowbell uses citrus and lactic acid to tickle the tongue's sour-sensing tastebuds, rather than their bitter counterparts. “The kettle souring process is a way of containing the lactic acid and making sure the beer is a stable product that is not going to change as it ages,” explains Brian.

For the beer curious, the Taproom conducts weekly tastings and food pairings with its beer selection every Sunday afternoon. You can also take your informal brew education one step further by going right to the source and booking a tour of the main brewery.

Wild Rose Brewery Taproom produces limited edition beers.
Limited edition beers, like this Cherry Porter from the Wild Rose barrel-aged series, are available at the Taproom.

A Social Atmosphere and Fresh Food

“There are no TVs, which is very rare these days,” exclaims Wild Rose marketing manager Blair Bullied. “You have to be social. That’s what I love about the Taproom.” As Blair sits at one of its long bar tables – an ideal spot to shoot the breeze with your neighbour – she points to the menu of elevated pub food. It adheres to the farm-to-the-table philosophy in its flatbreads, soups and sandwiches. The ingredients include lots of locally grown meat and produce as well as the brewery’s own products. Wild Rose beers are an important element in the beef and barley soup, pulled bison sandwich and wild Vietnamese sub.

Those hooked on the special atmosphere at this semi-secluded location can also book the Wild Rose Brewery Taproom for private events and… more Cowbell.

Wild Rose Brewery Taproom is located on the Currie Barracks.
The Wild Rose Brewery Taproom is located on the Currie Barracks.
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