Growing The Brewpub Culture In Calgary

Recently I came to the realization that I have been quiet on this blog for too long. So I would like to make a little noise about a new brewery that’s going to be enriching Calgary’s brewpub culture this summer. I’m sure that some of you have already guessed that I am referring to Trolley 5 which is going to be brewing, cooking & pouring pints for us starting in June.

Why Trolley 5?

Trolley 5 Streetcar

The Trolley 5 streetcar after running off of the rail. As a history major I love these heritage pics!

I’ve said it many times before, craft beer is a valuable part of culture; and just like food, art, music, etc. it should tie into your local community. Calgary has a rich history.  This city’s journey from a small Western settlement to a city of over one million people is fascinating.

The name Trolley 5 pays tribute to this local history. The name of the streetcar route that ran through the Beltline area during the 1920’s was #5. The brewpub will be occupying the old Melrose Cafe at the heart of the Red Mile where this trolley would have passed through, therefore, is a fitting name.

Ernie Tsu

I was able to sit down with Ernie Tsu, one of the owners, a few months back to get some details on this project. Ernie’s been in the industry for about 30 years. Basically he has experience working in all aspects of the restaurant business. He was involved in some of Calgary’s original beer halls like 1410 World Bier Haus back when craft beer was not very common in this city. Working at a place which featured many different beers imported from around the world was a great way to learn about some of the beer styles available. It was this exposure that planted a seed in Ernie that would continue to grow over the years.

Calgary Brewpub

Ernie looks like a kid in a candy shop in this picture of him surrounded by bright tanks.

Eventually he teamed up with PJ L’Heureux to take on the role of General Manager at CRAFT Beer Market. Anyone reading this blog probably knows that CRAFT has over 100 beers on tap; some of which rotate regularly. For someone passionate about beer this experience was a blessing. Not only did Ernie learn more about beers from around the globe but this job gave him the opportunity to travel to craft beer hubs everywhere. Ernie tells me that he’s had the pleasure of touring over 200 different breweries(wow this blows me right out of the water)! More than that he has been present during multiple brew days, interviewed owners & brewers; and studied the design of these breweries. Talk about a great way to educate yourself about the brewing industry.

Adding To The Local Craft Beer Community

PJ and Ernie got to talking with Wayne Leong, owner of  Melrose Cafe which occupied the spot where the brewpub is being constructed. The trio decided that 17th Ave needed a brewpub to further the burgeoning craft beer scene in Calgary.

Trolley 5 brewing

Here’s a preview of the view of the fermenters that guests will be enjoying.

What they have come up with is a building that will be made up of four floors. The basement will house the kegging & canning line. The sub-basement will hold the 20 barrel brewhouse designed by AM Jade, a local business whose support has been fantastic! The tanks will come up through the main floor providing some eye candy to the guests hanging out in the lounge. The top floor will have more of a family dining feel to it. In short this is going to be a great place for people to eat, drink & socialize.

Food & Beer, Good on Their Own, Great Together!

Jeff Demaniuk

Head brewer Jeff Demaniuk at the brewpub’s construction site.

Jeff Demaniuk, who has brewed at Phillips Brewing Co and was the former quality control manager at Village Brewery, will be the head brewer at Trolley 5.

Jeff & Ernie agree that they want to brew beer that they want to drink. This will include a sour beer program (sours are beginning to take off here in Alberta) and a barrel aging program (I do love me some barrel-aged beer, it adds another level of complexity that gets me every time). Ernie assured me that they’ll be doing lots of collab brews with both local microbreweries and others from out of province; those connections made through CRAFT will come in handy here. Out of the ten draft lines six of them will be guest taps. Similar to the collaboration brews these guest taps will include local and outside breweries.

If there is one thing that I have noticed with the local craft beer community it is that they like to help each other out; these guest taps and collaborations are perfect examples of this.

sour beer program

Talking barrel-aged sours at Mission Hill Winery in the Okanagan Valley.

On the food side of things, Ernie’s vision is to have a mix of Southern BBQ (he actually went down to Oklahoma to study their BBQ & smoke techniques) with global comfort food. So, depending on your mood, you could go there and chow down on some brisket or enjoy a plate of dumplings (coming out of the Silver Dragon, which is actually owned by Ernie’s family). This blend has me pretty excited since #1 I enjoy good food and #2 I think that it will lead to some interesting beer pairings.

In the end I am simply happy to see a brewpub culture developing in downtown #YYC. Along with Brewsters and Last Best this will give people a nice little circuit to run/walk/crawl. I hope to see you all there for the grand opening in June to raise a glass for a cheers to local craft beer!

2 thoughts on “Growing The Brewpub Culture In Calgary

  1. Excellent Article Adam, I’m looking forward to coming back Calgary even more! There really isn’t much Craft Beer in South East Asia, I miss it!

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