Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Grizzly Paw Brewing Co.

I had the opportunity to visit another brewpub on my vacation to the Rocky Mountains last week. Canmore Alberta is a little town off the Transcanada highway nestled into the Mountains, east of Banff. It was once a mining town, but is now is more known for being home to the Canmore Nordic Centre where our country's Olympic ski teams train. It is also home to The Grizzly Paw Brewing Co. - a brewpub/brewery located on Main St.

The building has a bit of a ski chalet look at first glance, a many windowed turret is the focal point of the front of the building. Timbers fence off a fair sized patio in front with a stone fireplace. It was a little chilly to sit outside, but the view from here is stunning - a full view of the mountians and thier snowy peaks.

The view from just outside the brewpub.

Upon entering I instantly felt comfortable. The brewpub was clean and spacious with stone and wood details. Up front was a large dining room which slowly filled up with locals at lunchtime. The rear contained the bar which sprouted a dozen shiny chrome taps. To the left of the bar the brewing operations were visable through a window. A sign pointed to a staircase and proclaimed "pool tables upstairs!". A few TVs were tuned into a tennis match and the radio featured classic rock. From the ceiling near the bar hung many stoneware tankards. Staff were decorating for Halloween (bonus cool points) at the time, adding fake spider webs in the windows. It was quite sunny up front so we sat near the bar at a tall table surrounded by highbacked wooden chairs and browsed the menu. The offerings were familiar - burgers, ribs, various sandwiches, fries, chicken, nothing groundbreaking though some used beer as an ingredient. I ordered a meaty pizza made with a local flatbread and found it to be quite tasty and well put together, bonus points for using local ingredients as well. Our bartender doubled as our server (I forget your name man, sorry) and I ordered up a sampler tray featuring a small (3-4oz at most) sample of each of the beers on tap. I blazed my way through the sampler, there were a few I had tried before. For the most part, the beers were decent session styles, a pilsner, red ale, IPA, a berry wheat, brown ale, plus 2 seasonals. As is often the case with a brewpub, the seasonals were better than the regular taps. The first was the "light seasonal" which revealed itself as JackOLantern Pumpkin Ale. I like pumpkin beers, they're just so hard to find. When I lived in Ontario I'd look forward to fall and the LCBO getting a few bottles of McAuslan's Pumpkin beer in. Most years the shelves were empty - such is the life of an Ontario beerhunter. Grizzly's version was pretty light in colour, which surprised me as most other pumpkin beers have a bit of colour to them. The beer had the requisite pie spice aroma - some nutmeg and some pumpkin fruit as well. Flavour was similar to the aroma with a caramel malt base and pumpkin flesh sweetness. It was light bodied and had a grainy finish. Not bad. The second seasonal was the "dark seasonal" - Moose Knuckle Oatmeal Stout. I procured a full pint's worth of this stuff, knowing I was on to something good. The beer poured deep brown colour with a large tan head. It held a nice sweet nose of cocoa and molasses with roast malt. The flavour surpised me a bit with a touch of smokiness. It was suitably roasty, with some moderate sweet notes. I caught a little licorice in among the roasted malts in the finish. Well worth trying if you visit in the fall or winter seasons.

Overall it was a nice visit and I will return next time I'm visiting Banff or Lake Louise. Decent grub, some good session beers, even better seasonal beers, a homey and comfortable feel, and a great mountain setting. This place doesn't do big beers but that's cool. What they do is decent. Oh and they also make a few "craft sodas". I had the grape and it was pretty good.

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