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A Brief History of Craft Beer in Calgary, Alberta

History of Craft Beer in Calgary, Alberta
Calgary’s Oldest Brewery

In 1875, the Northwest Territories act was passed which prohibited the sale of beer in Western Canada. In 1892, when the first Prohibition was lifted, A.E. Cross, one of Calgary’s first modern industrialists was elected president of Alberta’s first brewery, The Calgary Malting & Brewing Company. They brewed the first Calgary-made beer, the “Calgary Export Lager”.

The brewery was a hit amongst Calgarians and Cross re-invested the profits into the growth and acquisition of smaller local breweries and hotels. The Inglewood area became known as the “Brewery Flats.”

Calgary’s first beer, the Export Lager, was shipped all around the world, including China and Australia, but mainly distributed in western Canada. The opening of the Calgary Malting & Brewing Co. introduced the growing of barley for malting purposes to the province of Alberta. The brewery was one of Calgary’s largest employers, providing post-Great Depression relief work. It was also the first company in AB to offer pension plans and insurance for its employees, as well as providing Depression-era relief work. In 1910, the brewery became the first commercial user of natural gas in Western Canada.

From 1910 and 1950, the company was able to survive the WWI and WWII, the second Prohibition and the Great Depression. In 1961, the Calgary brewery faced deep challenges and eventually sold to Canadian Breweries in 1961, and was bought out by Rothman’s in 1969, which was later renamed Carling O’Keefe in 1973. In 1989, Molson Breweries took over and eventually reached its end in 1994.

Read more on the history of beer in Calgary.

Why Should You Drink Calgary Beers?

Calgary has had a long history with beer and drinking local helps continue on Calgary’s beer legacy and more importantly, helps support local businesses and fosters growth in the beer industry which can lead to economic development. Drinking craft beers from Calgary’s local breweries is important because the beer industry in Canada is huge.

What is #DrinkLocal?

#DrinkLocal is more than just a beer hashtag, it’s a craft beer movement.

Drink Local or “#drinklocal” is an important grass-roots social movement. The #DrinkLocal tag creates awareness and support for local breweries, pubs, taprooms and liquor stores. Click here to learn more about the #drinklocal movement or visit our Calgary Beer Guide to find out where to get the best Calgary Craft Beer.

A Brief History of Craft Beer in Calgary, Alberta

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