A Brief History of Beer in Alberta, Canada
Alberta’s beer industry is booming, but how did it start? Learn about the history of beer in Alberta and why you should drink Alberta craft beer.
By Clara Jaide on Sep. 20, 2014
History of Beer in Alberta
Alberta had a rather odd past with beer. Alberta’s first brewery, “The Saskatchewan Brewery, was founded by Thomas Ireland in 1882 in the region we would call Medicine Hat, today. At the time, Alberta was considered part of the Northwest Territories. The brewery was short-lived and closed five years later. During this time, Alberta had its first of two Prohibitions. In 1905, Alberta became its own province, and 11 years later had a second prohibition which took place from 1916-1924.
The second Prohibition was due to the temperance movement that was set in place in response to fighting and domestic violence that was assumed to be linked to drinking within the province. Originally the concern was hard liquor/spirits, and wine and beer weren’t too much of a concern, but eventually, there was a “complete abstinence” law put in place that prohibited the consumption of all alcohol.
Once the second Prohibition was lifted, strict rules concerning alcohol were implemented by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC), which at the time had armed officers to make sure these “rules” were set in play at all times.
Over the years, the rules around beer and alcohol loosened and Alberta became the home to many breweries. Alberta played a major role in the growth of wheat/barley for brewing. The Prairies are known for their sessionable beer styles such as Blonde Ales, Lagers, Amber Ales, Pale Ales, IPAs and many other malty beers, like Stouts and Porters.
Quick Facts about Alberta Beer Today
- In 2018, the sales value of beer in Alberta was $1,061,000 CAD.
- Alberta is the only province in Canada that has fully privatized their beer import, retail and warehousing industries.
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