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Calgary brewery on target in old military base


The patio is full at Wild Rose Brewery & Taproom, where a Canadian Air Force regiment used to call home. (Karen Evenden/Vacay.ca)

Story by Karen Evenden
Vacay.ca Writer


The tasty beers at Wild Rose have won brewing awards. (Karen Evenden/Vacay.ca)

CALGARY, ALBERTA — As I drive through Currie Barracks, once home to various Canadian Army and Air Force regiments, my eyes widen when they catch sight of AF23.

A green quonset (a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized steel), Building AF23 sits perched in the backdrop of patio tables, umbrellas, chairs, and wildly colourful flower baskets.

Based on the smiling faces and drinks on the tables, the building appears to be a bar, which means of course, it would be a crime not to investigate.

On entering, a brunette, a redhead and a blonde catch my eye immediately. These fine-looking specimens, namely Brown, WRed Wheat and IPA (ales) are three of the beers produced at the Wild Rose Brewery & Taproom.

Established in 1996, Wild Rose has been winning awards for its locally produced ales since its inception, earning Canadian Brewing Awards for its Velvet Fog, a wheat beer, and its Barley Wine, which in fact is not a wine, but an extra strong ale.

Award-winning brews are reason enough to visit this lesser-known watering hole, but as an additional bonus there’s no doubt about it, the place has charm.

The property of Canada Lands since the official 1998 decommissioning of Canadian Forces Base Calgary, the barracks has undergone three phases of redevelopment. During this time, warehouses and hangars have been rented to local companies and the owners of Wild Rose Brewery took advantage of the opportunity for a larger space (the taproom seats 80) in a unique location.

The quonset was originally used as a military supply store and there are pictures and remnants from the military background that create a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting place to spend a couple of hours. Wild Rose is the only Brewery & Taphouse in a quonset on a former military base in Alberta (and possibly in Canada).

Some military presence remains on the barracks. The bar itself is made from pieces of an old tank. The bathroom walls are created from a variety of colourful doors and even the light fixtures are unusual, with a large “trouble light” chandelier as the centrepiece of the room.

Saturdays are the perfect day to stop by. Not only can you enjoy lunch, the menu has inspired selections such as Beer & Barley Soup and Brown Ale Pie, but you can join the drop-in tour.

Anthony Lynch, our guide, was incredibly knowledgeable about the brewery process and his enthusiasm and passion were infectious. The brewery itself is clean, organized and looks extremely efficient for its size. A craft brewer, Wild Rose uses fresh and local products (where possible) that are preservative free.

When the time comes to put the beer to the test, I choose the Royal, which turns out to be a little dark for my taste. I opt for the WRed, washed down with the veggie flatbread, both a great value at $6.75 per pint and $9.50 for the flatbread. Mmmmm, perhaps I can manage a stout chocolate brownie too.

Location: 4580 Quesnay Wood Drive Southwest, Calgary, AB
Contact: Telephone, 403-720-2733 (toll-free, 1.866.720.2733); email, wild@wildrosebrewery.com; website, www.wildrosebrewery.com
Brewery tours: Wild Rose offers drop-in tours at 1pm on Saturdays. The $14 tour includes a look inside the brewery, a glass of beer, a Wild Rose souvenir pint glass, and 15% discount off merchandise.
Hours: The brewery is open 11 am-11 pm, Monday to Saturday and 11 am-9 pm on Sunday.

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