Bottlescrew’s brews are tops

Calgary landmark lays roots for burgeoning beer scene

Congrats Bottlescrew Bill’s. At 24-years young Bottlescrew Bill’s Pub (140 10th Ave. S.W.) has long been touted as one of Calgary’s best beer destinations and is still winning awards. This pub has always been dear to my heart in large part because Bottlescrew Bill’s holds an annual beer festival in the first week of March that consistently ranks as one of Calgary’s best and most intimate.

The pub spurs interest in its extensive beer list by offering a passport system that encourages you to travel around the world in 80 beers — paying homage to Jules Verne and his Around the World in 80 Days . The passport is a fun incentive to sample the world’s best suds. If you successfully drink your way through 80 beers within a year you are rewarded with a free pint a hoodie and finally the Holy Grail: your name engraved on a brass plaque to be placed in a prominent position in the pub displayed in perpetuity.

Although Bottlescrew Bill’s is cool what is cooler is the beer culture growing in Calgary with several new specialty beer bars opening recently. While none have Bottlescrew Bill’s depth of selection smaller well-chosen craft and artisan beer lineups are popping up throughout the city which warms this beer scribe’s heart. So not only a hardy congratulations for your award Bottlescrew Bill’s but a thank you for helping to nurture beer culture in Calgary.

The 1410 and 1600 World Bier Hauses are owned by the same group and as their names suggest both seriously focus on beer. On 17th Ave. S.W. 1410 has been packing them in for a couple years now. The newest pub 1600 World Bier Haus is in Glenmore Landing and has one specialty beer on tap that no other bar in Calgary has: Delirium Tremens (8.5 per cent). Many Belgian beers taste better and are more complex because of the additional bottle conditioning but this high-octane Belgian triple is twice as amazing on tap than out of the bottle. Another treat on tap here Tree Hop Head is one of my favourite India Pale Ales both in bottle and keg form. Very few places have this hop-bomb on tap.

Flight Deck International Bar and Grill (1200 9650 Harvest Hills Blvd N.E.) owned by a couple of WestJet pilots is almost at the northeast edge of Calgary. This bar classifies its menu of international beers into each brew’s associated airport code. There’s a large selection of taps bottled beers and a brain-numbing amount of televisions. For the beer-and-sports focused this place is heaven. The bar is also on a direct flight path and for those who love to watch planes land and take off you can do it with a beer in hand from the country you are dreaming of flying to.

The most unlikely entry on this list is Kawa Espresso Bar (101-1333 8 St. S.W.) which has the craziest beer selection. This recent addition to the Calgary coffee scene is owned by the same well-respected folks who own Java Jamboree in Cochrane. Kawa’s eclectic beer selection may give its coffee credentials a run for its money. They have uncommon and exotic bottles of beer at very reasonable prices. Some of the oddities include Malheur Extra Brut a champagne-conditioned beer that is built for pairing with chocolate and some of the Rogue Extreme Series beers that come in large porcelain bottles. In the way-out-there category is a Bamberg-styled Rauchbier or smoked beer that this beer veteran has never seen in Alberta. The care and effort put into this beer list is amazing and lays down the gauntlet to Bottlescrew Bill’s. Jazz ensembles play some nights at Kawa and this espresso bar turns an evening of jazz and quality beer into a classy affair.