This past weekend I was very fortunate to get out to The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company in beautiful Canmore, Alberta for a tour of the new brewery. Canmore was once a tiny coal mining village with roots going back to the 1880’s. As the demand for coal diminished, the economy and the future of Canmore looked bleak before a huge break came their way. In the early 1980’s, the announcement of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics changed Canmore forever. While Calgary was the host city, Canmore hosted the Nordic events and today it is still the training headquarters of the Canadian Nordic teams. The economy has changed to mainly tourism and seems to be doing all of the right things to make it work. This is where The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company comes in. Their new brewery is set in a beautiful location with wonderful architecture that captures the stunning mountains views from every angle; even while standing at the brew kettles! The building is set up with a tasting room and sales center when you enter the facility. There are growlers, howlers as well as 6 and 12packs of standard bottles. Lots of other merchandise is also available to purchase such as shirts, coffee mugs, pint glasses and shot glasses.
The tasting room is where we started our tour and had a taste of some great beer to get us started. We were then greeted by southern territory sales manager, Darren McJannet and brewer, Fred Orndorff. I was fortunate enough to have met Darren at a couple events over the last six months or so and we talked about doing a tour once the new facility was up and running. Once I knew that they were up and running and tours were available, it didn’t take us long to get out there to take Darren up on his invitation. From the tasting room we walked out into a large space with ceilings that go all the way up to the top of the third floor. It feels so much bigger inside than it appears from the exterior. We went into to the mill room where the common malted barley is brought in from a yellow silo that can be seen out front of the building. There were several bags of specialty grains in large sacks that could be added as needed. After milling, the split grains are carried up to the top of the building by a bucket conveyor and are then moved across to a hopper to be weighed in a special suspended hopper prior to being fed into the mash tun. This process is all automated and state of the art.
We then took an elevator up to the third floor to have a look around. The views were stunning out of the floor to ceiling windows that are strategically placed to take in all of the beauty in the area. We then went to the next tasting station to sample more great beer while discussing the plans to have a meeting/reception area at the spot we were standing with wrap around windows and a beautiful deck that wraps all the way around with nice high shelf for standing outside taking in the views while enjoying a pint or two. The washroom facilities are under construction that will serve the public rental space and the storage that is now in the area will be moved to the second floor making a lot of room for your next function. Look for this space to be available sometime around spring 2014.
We then made our way over to the brewing area and walked up the platform and stood on front of the control panel, looked at all the equipment and went over the process with Fred. He was very informative and in depth with the information he gave us. All of our questions were answered during this casual, relaxed tour around this great new brewery. With that being said, there was no doubt that Fred was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about making beer.
We then made our way down some stairs to the conditioning tanks, brite tanks, bottling, kegging and labeling areas which was all is the same general area. We were able to sample another fine beer before we chatted about the processes involved and equipment used.
We then headed back to the tasting room where we had started and said goodbye to our great tour guide and brewer Fred. We bought a few things for our beer collection and then proceeded to The Grizzly Paw Brewing Co Pub & Restaurant in the heart of Canmore.
The Grizzly Paw Restaurant & Pub
The weather was fantastic for the last full day of summer and we sat out on the patio to try out some of the food and more beer varieties while discussing the beer business with Darren. We chatted about the growth of craft beer and the big movement on local food and beer. Speaking of local food, there is a cattle farmer that feeds his cattle the spent grains from the mash and they are thinking about buying some of that beef to feature in their restaurant. That seems like a fantastic idea and a full cycle, sustainable process.
The importance of casks events were also touched on and Darren confirmed that the casks are always in demand and customers are seeking them out. The Grizzly Paw Brewing Co. was recently at a cask event in Calgary, you can read about that here. There are some seasonal brews on tap at the pub that are fantastic as well.
We really enjoyed everything about our visit to the brewery as well as the restaurant & pub. If you have the chance to get out to Canmore or are planning a trip to the area you really need to get out and experience this brewery and stop in to have a bite and a pint or two at the pub. Click here to go to the brewery’s website or call to make a reservation for an upcoming tour at 403-678-2487.