One not-entirely negative byproduct of the pandemic is that it led to many of us discovering cool places to visit right in our backyards.
It would be a shame if our pent-up wanderlust prompted us to discard the little road trips that sustained us when there were no other options — particularly considering the number of local breweries that have opened in the communities ringing Edmonton in each direction.
To the north, Endeavour Brewing in St. Albert has been open since 2018, making it one of the more established breweries among those that have sprung up in the capital region. Its experience is reflected in its solid brewing chops. Two mainstays, Sudden Draft IPA and Skyline Pilsner, have gone from decent on day one to dialled-in and worth the drive.
Endeavour built a spacious, COVID-era patio in the parking lot that should still have some decent days left in it this fall, and a spacious taproom with a food menu that includes casual fare like chips and salsa, tacos and quesadillas.
Talking Dog’s taproom has a spare, industrial vibe that’s warmed up by plenty of light coming in through large windows. There ares nacks and a hot dog (naturally) on the food menu, while the beer roster has a combination of mainstays and rotating releases. Working Dog IPA is a nice West Coast-style IPA — its hop bite is a bit tame for the style, but it’s well made and enjoyable.
RavenWolf Brewing has a cozy space reminiscent of a British pub, with exposed brick, dark wood accents and a map mural that looks like a nautical chart from the bridge of a Royal Navy brigantine.
South of the city, Rural Routes Brewing in Leduc has been serving pints to locals since 2018. With owners who have a background in the restaurant business, there’s an extensive food menu that includes snacks, burgers and a tasty fried chicken sandwich. Autumn should mark the return of one of my favourite beers from there: Wolfgang Amadeus Malzart, a lovely Vienna-style lager with toasty malt, mild floral hops and a clean finish.
Completing the circumnavigation of Edmonton is 70 Acre Brew Co., east of the city in Sherwood Park. Like Rural Routes, it’s owned by hospitality industry vets who put a lot of thought into the food menu. Building on the sociable aspects of beer, the food selection focuses on shareable items: Thin crust Neapolitan-style pizzas and charcuterie boards.
With an experienced brewer who came from Edmonton’s Campio Brewing, 70 Acre opened in June with a broad and well-executed lineup of eight beers. A complex yet approachable rye saison — initially planned as a rotating release — may find a place in the core offerings. Look for it when you visit the taproom.
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