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8 Best Breweries & Distilleries in Banff & Canmore

8 Best Breweries & Distilleries in Banff & Canmore

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If you’re like me and you love craft beer and liquor, then one of the first things you’re going to do when you get to Banff is to visit the best craft breweries and distilleries. Checking out Banff’s breweries and distilleries is one of the best activities in Banff – perfect all year round!

But for first-time visitors to the area, you may not know exactly where to look. In fact, other blogs I read online suggest breweries in Jasper which is over 3 hours away!? Even with my love for craft beer, that’s a long drive!

That’s why I decided to shed some light on the best breweries and distilleries in Banff and Canmore. Canmore is only 20 minutes from Banff so it’s convenient to visit. There are a total of 8 breweries and distilleries in Banff and Canmore and in this blog I share them all with you!

Best Breweries & Distileries in Banff & Canmore

1. Banff Ave Brewing Co.

Drinking beer and eating at Banff Ave Brewing
Nachos and beer is their a better combo?!

First up is, of course, the Banff Ave Brewing Company! This was the first brewery in Banff and the craft beer here is delicious! The brewery is conveniently located on Banff Ave but it can be a little tricky to find as it’s on the second floor.

Luckily though, Banff Ave Brewing has a small shop below selling merchandise and take-home packs where the employees will point you in the right direction to the bar and restaurant upstairs. Once in the brewery, the world is your oyster…

One thing I really, really love about Banff Brewing Co. is their huge range of beers. To be exact there are 12 delicious beers to choose from and the variety is so vast there really is a beer for everyone. Personally (yes, let’s hear about my favs!) I love the Head Smashed IPA, Pond Hockey Pale Ale, and the Strawberry Pint’a Colada (a golden ale brewed with strawberries that actually tastes like a strawberry Pina Colada!) Although the Pint’a Colada is seasonal, you’ll find lots of other great seasonal beers to try when you visit.

The brewery also serves really good food consisting of many Canadian pub classics such as nachos, burgers, and poutine (if you’re not Canadian you may need to Google that last one.)

Regardless of what beer you love, you’re bound to find it at Banff Ave Brewing Company. Don’t get stuck there too long though, you need to move on as there are many more craft breweries to try around Banff!

2. Three Bears Brewing

Drinking beer at Three Bears Brewery
Out for beers with a friend.

Three Bears Brewing is Banff’s newest brewery and is actually owned by the Park Distillery in town. When I first heard about Three Bears Brewing opening for business I was super excited to try it out. I mean, why did Banff only have one brewery up until now!?

My first impressions were exciting and the entire brewery is gorgeous with high sealings, beautiful decor, and great beer. This overall creates a really fun atmosphere and it didn’t take me long to get the beers flowing.

My favorite? It has to be their tea-infused rotating beer. This might not be available when you visit but luckily they have 4 full-time beers on tap of which I loved the Happy Trails Pale Ale and Wishing Tree IPA. I’m just patiently waiting for them to brew a sour!

The food at Three Bear Brewing is also a highlight and the Cheesy Waffle Fries pairs perfectly with your beer. I also recommend sharing some of the Lamb Ribs!

Three Bears Brewing is located on one of Banff’s newest pedestrian priority streets Bear Street making it very convenient. This is a must-visit on your trip to Banff in winter or summer!

3. Park Distillery

Bailey drinks a cocktail Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar
The cocktails are amazing!

Park Distillery is the only distillery in Banff and one of my favorite places to enjoy lunch! But first, let’s start with what they’re famous for…cocktails and craft liquor!

Park Distillery has 5 whiskeys and 11 spirits all of which are crowd favorites. In fact, they’re often completely sold out of their craft wiskeys! Whiskey lovers will really enjoy tasting them all which range from 36 to 47 months. I myself am not a whiskey fan so I stick to their spirits which include a vanilla vodka (my favorite) and expresso vodka!

To be comepltely honest though, I’ve only tried their straight liquor once. In fact, I almost exclusively come for the cocktails, and why not, they’re delicious! Be sure to try the Sawback if you love a bit of spice or the Nitro Shaft on Draft for a pick me up with expresso vodka and cold brew coffee.

As for food, well you really can’t go wrong if you love hearty meals. I love the Rotisserie Chicken Sandwich and the Seared BC Salmon. Both pair perfectly with cocktails or craft beer (they serve lots of local brews!)

You’ll find Park Distillery conveniently on Banff Ave!

4. Canmore Brewing Co.

A Canmore Brewing Co beer
The IPA is my favorite!

Canmore Brewing Company is one of my favorite breweries in all of Canada. It’s the one craft beer I drink on the regular and seek out at local liquor stores. Their brewery is located at the Railway Avenue shopping complex in Canmore. Although not the most ideal location to get amongst Canmore’s cracking atmosphere, the beer is brewed on-site which I love.

When it comes to the selection of beers theirs isn’t huge, but what they do, they do well. The Ten Peaks Pale Ale is a favorite of mine as well as the Misty Mountain Hops. There are three other choices on their regular taps but they also have seasonal taps so there’s always something new to try.

As for food, well, they do lack in that department and for the time being, you can only get snacks such as savory pies, pretzels, and nuts. The brewery also runs tours.

Canmore… it’s technically not Banff but when it comes to trying craft beer I wouldn’t let a measly 18-minute drive hold you back. In fact, the best part is the next brewery on our Banff breweries list is also in Canmore – that’s a two birds with one stone kind of deal!

Related Read: Heading to Canmore? Check out all of the best things to do in Canmore while you’re there!

5. Sheepdog Brewing

Sheepdog Brewing, Canmore
Cold beer anyone?

Sheepdog Brewing is Canmore’s least-known brewery and if you don’t look for it, it’s likely you’ll miss it- which is such a shame. This brewery reminds me of what craft breweries should be, a small garage operation run by a bunch of friends who all share a love for craft beer.

For such a small brewery though they craft a lot of great beers for you to try. In fact, there are 15 tap beers available to try including some really unique brews such as a coconut porter, mixed berry sour, and an ages saison. Seriously, these guys are testing the waters and the brewery is suited to those who love to try something more unique – like me!

My favorite beers would have to be the Everythings Peachy, Jammy Dodger (mixed berry sour), and The Dogfather Hazy IPA! With that said, I love most of their beers – they really are all that good!

The brewery is located on the outskirts of Canmore in the industrial area, but trust me, this place is worth the drive!

6. Blake Brewhouse and Distillery

A lady drinks a cocktail at Blake Brewhouse and Distillery
Oh and I love the Ceasar

This next place combines both a brewery and a distillery into one. Blakes Brewhouse and Distillery is located in Canmore and both brew their own beer and craft their own spirits onsite. On top of that, they serve a full menu and have a huge onsite restaurant with a large outdoor seating area. It’s the place to be on a warm sunny day!

I personally come here for the cocktails and food as opposed to the craft beer. Although they have 6 full-time beers on tap including a delicious IPA, it’s just not really my style of beer. With that said, I love the large selection of cocktails including the Mango Picante Margarita and the Filthy Chia.

If you arrived hungrily then you came to the right place. The Blake serves some really interesting food. My personal suggestion is the Tandoori Chicken Naan or the Lemon Grass Mussels – perfect on a summer’s day with refreshing flavors that pair well with fruity cocktails.

7. Wild Life Distillery

Bailey drinks a cocktail at Wild Life Distillery in Canmore
Yummy!

Tucked away in the industrial area of Canmore is another pleasant surprise. Wild Life Distillery is a small craft distillery that only crafts 7 sprits. With that said though, the small tasting room is the perfect place to try a unique cocktail crafted with expert care.

I myself love their rotating cocktail menu which is usually inspired by current events. Or, if you love your classics they have a ton of favorites everyone will love.

These guys do not serve food and the tasting room is rather small, however, I have a feeling this place will grow especially with the quality of the cocktails and service!

8. Grizzly Paw Brewing Co.

Enjoying a beer at the Grizzly Paw in Canmore
Enjoying a beer at the Grizzly Paw in Canmore

Last but certainly not least is Grizzly Paw Brewing. This small brewery was the first in Canmore and they actually have two locations. The first is the most convenient to visit and that’s on the main street (8 Street) of Canmore. Here, you can try many of their beers including one that’s still brewed in that location.

The other location is a little further out on Old Canmore Road. Funny story actually, I never knew this location existed until I stayed at the Coast Canmore Hotel across the road – talk about a handy location! Anyway, this location is much bigger than the one in town and is where most of their beer is brewed nowadays.

Both locations serve food although I’ve only eaten at the one on 8 Street. Their burgers are delicious and I’d say stopping in for a burger and a beer is definitely one of the best things to do in Canmore!

As for my favorite beer, well I really loved their Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat and the entire Summit Range (which is made up of three ales.)

Now I know we’re all here for the beers, but if you’re bringing someone along who doesn’t love beer then Grizzly Paw Brewing is a perfect choice. The reason? Well, they actually sell homemade cocktails in a can! These include a Mountain Mule and a Gin Squeeze! Although Bailey loves beer, she couldn’t resist trying the cocktails too!

Related read: Visiting the Grizzly Paw is awesome all year round! With their indoor fireplaces, it’s a cozy place to have a beer and one of the best things to do in Canmore in the winter!

Banff Craft Beer Festival

The Banff Craft Beer Festival is widely considered the most beautiful beer festival in the world. Held every year, the festival exclusively showcases Alberta-crafted beers from over 40 vendors. It’s safe to say you won’t run out of beers to taste before you run out of steam!

The festival is a really fun event and if you’re a beer lover like me then I’d add it to your Banff bucket list – especially if you live in Canada. In 2021 the festival will run between Dec 3-11 at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. It’s one of the most popular events in Banff in December and people come from all over the country to experience it.

Of course, every year the dates change slightly but around mid-November is when it’s usually held. This year I’ll be going, so if you are too, be sure to send us an email!

Related Read: Another great destination for beer-lovers is Kelowna, BC. Read about all of the best breweries in Kelowna on my blog!

Where to Stay in Banff

The Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff
The gorgeous Rimrock Resort Hotel! Photo credit: The Rimrock Resort

Banff, being the holiday destination it is, has no shortage of beautiful hotels. In fact, it’s hard to book a bad hotel in Banff. With that said, there are a few stand-out hotels for every budget. You know, those places that offer more for less.

For budget-conscious travelers, the HI-Banff Alpine Center is my top choice. I love this hostel for its fun social atmosphere as well as clean rooms and good facilities. One thing to note though is the hostel is located a decent walk from the main area of Banff.

If you still want a rather inexpensive hotel but would love a great location the High Country Inn has both (much cheaper in winter though.) The hotel is only a few blocks from the action and although a little outdated, offers an indoor pool, sauna, and hot tub, as well as an onsite restaurant.

For the more luxurious travelers, the Rimrock Resort Hotel has everything you need. The rooms are gorgeous and those mountain views are hard to beat. On top of that, they have all the facilities you could want including an indoor pool, spa and wellness center, onsite restaurant, room service, and restaurant. Their location is a little out of town though.

If money ain’t a thing then the Fairmont Banff Springs (mentioned above) is the most luxurious option.

Canada Travel Essentials

Bailey stands on a mountain in essential gear for the Canadian Rockies
A windproof jacket and Buff will save you in the mountains!

Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.

Crampons: In winter crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect ice conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $29 and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!

Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part though? It comes in pink!

Bear bells: These are a must and for the price, you shouldn’t hike without them. The bear bells I use are only $12 and they come with a silencer (a must) so you can easily travel with them.

Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.

Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.

Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.

Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in hand so many times especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $27 and they serve my basic needs without any issues!

Before you go…

A couple take a selfie at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park
Thanks for reading!

Although there is only one true Banff brewery, the surrounding breweries in Canmore are a great addition for those who want to try some of Canada’s finest craft beer. With three to choose from and try, you could really make a day out it (just be sure to start in Canmore if you’re staying in Banff or have a designated driver!)

Thanks so much for reading. If you enjoyed reading our guide to the best breweries in Banff then jump over and check out all our Canada blogs or the related articles from Banff below!

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Guide to Visiting Banff in Autumn

The Ultimate Banff Itinerary

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-Daniel

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