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RIP Brew Brothers, Vive Last Best and Other News

brewbrothersThe big prairie news this week is the announced closure tomorrow (February 28) of Brew Brothers Brewery. The longtime Calgary operation opened its doors in 1994, making it the oldest of Alberta’s craft brewers. It had fallen on difficult times following the closure of its tap room a few years back, but they were still trying to sell beer at a few accounts in Calgary and elsewhere.

My biggest memory of Brew Brothers was years ago, when they were still selling large bottles in Edmonton. I espied their Black Pilsner and remember pondering “what the hell is that?”. It never really had the bittering level of a true pilsner, but I appreciated for its willingness to try something unusual (for the time).

lastbestThe good news is that next week Last Best Brewing and Distilling takes possession of the space. Last Best is the latest location of what is now called Bear Hill Brewing Company. Bear Hill is the new corporate umbrella for the Jasper, Banff Avenue and Wood Buffalo Brewpubs. Last Best Brewing will be the fourth brewpub location, meaning we legitimately have a second brewpub chain on the prairies. I wonder if an Edmonton location can’t be far behind?

As the name implies Last Best will also be dabbling in distilling. I have not yet had a chance to connect up with the Bear Hill people to get more details, but will share once I do.

In other news, which until yesterday would have been given bigger  billing:

  • wildrose logo goodWild Rose officially revved up its new, larger brewery in southeast Calgary yesterday (Feb 26). The brewery will quadruple Wild Rose’s capacity. The existing taproom location will be closed in the coming months. No word on the future of the older brewery.
  • In clearly related news, Wild Rose has launched an overhaul of its branding, including shifting away from industry standard twist-off bottles to designer embossed, pop-off bottles, and the addition of three new beer. Natural Born Keller has been promoted from seasonal to year-round. Also joining the regular line-up Electric Avenue is the brewery’s first crack at a pale lager. Clocking in at about 27 IBUs it has just enough hops to give it a crisp, drier finish. The third beer is a one-time partnership with Calgary radio station X92.9. Tuff Beer is an unassuming light alcohol (4.5%) blonde ale. All proceeds will be donated to the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund.
  • And more news from Calgary (which is clearly the place to be this week), Village Brewing was just named Start-Up of the Year at the inaugural AIR MILES Small Business Achievement Award. Jim Button received the award on behalf of the ownership team. The award includes a mentorship from Steve Matyas, President of Staples Canada, 10,000 AIR MILES reward miles and a profile in the April issue of Canadian Business magazine.
  • NWTbrewing_logoAnd in some news that I haven’t decided whether it fits on a page devoted to the prairies is the announcement of the planned opening of NWT Brewing Company in Yellowknife. Owners Fletcher and Miranda Stevens hope to have it up and running by the summer. When I started this page I adopted Yukon Brewing as honourary prairie brewers, since they are kind of orphans north of 60. So I feel I should do the same for NWT breweries. I will keep a watch on them and make a final decision once they are open.

March is about to be upon us, and usually that month marks the shifting from winter to spring seasonals, so expect more prairie beer news shortly.

10 comments to RIP Brew Brothers, Vive Last Best and Other News

  • Anyone who knows me (in my guise as beer nerd) knows how excited I am that we are finally going to see a craft distillery in Alberta.

  • mark

    I asked a few beer guys about 6 months ago how Brew Brothers could still be in business. Everyone said, “who?” I was actually quite a fan of their Black Pilsner and Prairie Steamer on tap, but were almost impossible to find the last 3-4 years.

    I was also reading an updated Canadian Craft Distillery directory a couple weeks ago and was surprised to see there were none in Alberta (Saskatchewan has 3), so this news is most welcome.

  • Mark, there are at least 2 distilleries in Alberta but they produce very large volumes. Could be that someone hasn’t done their homework, or that they are very large with corporate backing and therefore not considered “craft” distilleries.

  • Pedro

    Wood Buffalo is now distilling in Fort Mac making them the 1st producing distillery in Alberta. I’d expect Last Best Brewing to be up an running before summer in my opinion. Looking forward to the future of Bear Hills Calgary site and community based Albertan beer and spirit development.

  • We brewed the original Black Pilsner for Brew Brothers back in the early 90s. For my brewing partner and me, it was our favourite brew at the time. Unfortunately, our brew lengths were too big for them, as one brew would last 3-4 months. They went on to have it brewed at a smaller facility (Alley Cat?)before opening their own shop.

  • jeanette sibley

    Well Im glad I was able to find this site. I purchase stocks in Brew Brothers Brewing Company Ltd when it was started up by a Brad Le Drew. This was April, 2000.I was never able to locate him or make contact with the company in the few years. So now I have some dead stock I guess. Lesson learned. ” keep your money in your pocket”Also, anyone want to buy some old brew brothers brewing Company Ltd. stocks!!!!Reach me hygienitech.nl@gmail.com.

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