Calgary Brews ’n’ ’Qs: Local taprooms hope to smoke out the competition with meat-and-beer pairings

Calgary loves beer. And Calgary loves barbecue.

Brewing beer and smoking barbecue are both slow processes that take a lot of care and control. Also, both beer and barbecue inspire social gatherings. That beer and barbecue share these common characteristics is what makes their combination with each other so great.

Calgary now boasts four breweries with smokehouses. These local establishments are the perfect places to gather with friends and share good times.

Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery (3610 Burnsland Rd. S.E.; was the first in Calgary to combine a brewery and barbecue when it opened in 2017. “We keep it simple,” says Jordan Sorrenti, half of the husband-and-wife team that run the “brewbecue” named after their son. “It’s southern-style barbecue: brisket, ribs and pulled pork. We cook what we cook and when it’s gone it’s gone. It’s quick and simple. It’s counter service, so you get your beer right away and food is ready in five or six minutes.” Paddy’s is family-friendly with toys to entertain the kids and an emphasis on shared platters. “And we make beers that pair well,” says Sorrenti. “Our lagers and pilsners work perfectly with the sweet, smoky saltiness of southern barbecue.”

Prairie Dog Brewing (105D 58 Ave. S.E.; famously has the largest barbecue smoker in Canada. Custom-made in Mesquite, TX, the giant red smoker, dubbed “Clifford,” is used to make southern-inspired fair. “We draw upon a lot of influences from all the barbecue hotbeds, but we put our own spin on it,” says Jason Potter, executive chef and co-founder of Prairie Dog. The beer range is broad, as is the menu. Prairie Dog is a family restaurant, so their menu has wide appeal.

Tool Shed Brewing (801 30 St. N.E.; has been open for years, but only recently added a full barbecue kitchen. The restaurant is branded Notorious P.I.G. BBQ, a name Tool Shed co-founder Graham Sherman also uses for his competitive barbecue team. Indeed, Sherman has competed in the world championships of barbecue. At Tool Shed, Notorious P.I.G. offers barbecue fusion. Barbecue pork belly is used to make a Vietnamese banh mi and pulled pork tops a tostada for a Mexican twist. “Beer and barbecue are two of my obsessions,” says Sherman. “I love that there are so many variables to control and no matter how good you get, you can keep pushing yourself to get better and better at it.”

South Block (2437 4th St. S.W.; is the third of the “Block” group of barbecue restaurants. Hayden Block (1136 Kensington Rd. N.W.; was first, focussing on Texas-style barbecue. Comery Block (638 17th Ave. S.W.; followed, showcasing barbecue in the style of west Tennessee. South Block opened earlier this year, adding North Carolina barbecue to the mix, celebrating barbecue in a coastal fashion. And for the first time in the restaurant group, South Block is brewing its own beer. “We’re taking a culinary approach to brewing,” says Ryan Placktis, headbrewer. “I have regular meetings with the head chef and we make sure everything works together.” Classic beers in familiar styles are available, but so are novel, barbecue-inspired ideas like the Tree Shaker Bourbon Peach Ale.