If Banff is Alberta’s backyard, then Banff Ave Brewing Co. is the town’s living room — the gathering place. Less a tourist destination and more a community hub for local legends and world-class athletes to hang out after a day on the mountain, and where visitors can get a taste of the real Banff. That Banff is a lot more than what you see in brochures and postcards, it’s something you need to experience.
Ask any Banffite (yep, that’s what they’re called) to describe the ‘real’ Banff, and you’ll get a hundred different answers. But one thing pretty much every local would agree on is their love for the mountains and the joys that can be found in, on and exploring every peak of them. “Banff is pretty hardcore and for me, the best experience is a day out in the mountains climbing tough routes, churning miles mountain biking or running trails with my friends. After, it’s hanging out with some beers to plan our next adventure,” says Banff Ave Brewing Co. Assistant General Manager and Banff resident, Lukasz Ptaszynski.
We asked Lukasz to take us through his perfect day in the ‘real’ Banff for visitors and veterans alike. “To kick things off, I would tell people to go mountain biking, rock-climbing or hiking during the day. You can do all of those activities at Tunnel Mountain, which is super-accessible from downtown Banff.” Tunnel Mountain is known for its picture-perfect view of the town and its switchback hiking trail that’s popular with tourists, but it has way more to offer. “Tunnel can be a bit underrated, but there’s more to do than just hiking up the main Trail. There’s a bunch of other routes in between the campground that are great for exploring, trail running and mountain biking. Try the Hoodoos trail, or head to the east and south sides of the mountain for some killer rock-climbing at Gooseberry and Black Band,” says Ptaszynski. “Plus it’s so close to downtown Banff, you can whip straight to the brewpub afterwards.”
There’s nothing as satisfying as a cold craft beer and a delicious meal after a day on the mountain. The town has a couple great brewpubs, but Banff Ave Brewing Co. is the O.G. Just opened in the former Athena Pizza space, The Lodge at Banff Ave Brewing Co. is their newest mountain-casual dining spot, with an easy-going approach and a very legit take on Detroit-style deep dish pizza, along with pasta and regionally inspired small plates.
“For dinner, I’d head to the Lodge for some pasta, like the House-Made Tagliatelle or replenish your carbs with some incredible Detroit-style deep dish,” recommends Ptaszynski. “Banff has been missing this kind of pizza place and the Lodge seriously delivers.” After refueling, Lukasz suggests exploring Banff’s nightlife with some craft brews next door at the brewpub. “Obligatory for real authenticity you have to head next door to Tommy’s after. A Banff experience is not complete without an Ouzo nightcap at Tommy’s.” But maybe take it easy on the ouzo, because if you’re really living the Banff lifestyle you’ve got to get up and have another mountain adventure tomorrow.
The Lodge at Banff Ave Brewing Co. is located upstairs at 110 Banff Ave. Visit banffavebrewingco.ca for more information. Plus, enter to win your own ‘real’ Banff experience with Banff Ave Brewing Co.’s specially marked 6-pack boxes available at select liquor stores across Alberta.
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