The business of craft beer in Regina is big.
So big, in fact, that it took three former Saskatchewanderers to take it on one sunny Saturday in the Queen City.
Kevin Dunn (2018 Saskatchewanderer), Andrew Hiltz (2017 Saskatchewanderer) and myself, (Ashlyn George, the 2015 Saskatchewanderer), teamed up to tackle four breweries and one brewpub, finishing the night off at the neighbourhood bar. We even had a guest appearance from current Saskatchewanderer, Zane Buchanan, for a stop or two.
Brewpub’s like The Bushwakker have been around the city since the early 1990’s, but since 2013, more craft breweries have popped up than ever before.
So what makes it craft? Craft beer is small-batch beer brewed by independent companies. Because they brew less than large-scale corporate breweries, this gives them the opportunity to have a little fun and blend traditional beer with new and innovative approaches and flavours.
We started our morning off hitting up The Bushwakker Brewpub – an iconic location in Regina that’s near about as Saskatchewan as it gets. They’re famous for their mead which launches every December 1 and promptly sells out. (People literally line up down the street 24 hours in advance to purchase crates of mead.) They also host the First Firkin Friday where a small keg of special ale is piped through the pub and tapped.
On the menu you’ll find the Saskatchewan Hot Plate with cabbage rolls, koubassa and perogies with fresh sauerkraut and beer bread. We also ordered their famous nachos and Pop’s original pizza.
But what we were most delighted by was the handmade wooden flight featuring every single one of The Bushwakker’s 18 on-tap beers. Not many people know you can order a flight of every beer, all for about $40.
District Brewing Company
Filling our bellies, we wandered down to District Brewing which brews both its own craft beer as well as contract brews craft beer for other Saskatchewan enthusiast’s needing the use of a manufacturing facility.
Our tour guide, assistant Brewmaster Walter Martin, informed us that District keeps their beers focused on quality ingredients, sticking to the simplicity of four main ingredients: malt, hops, water and yeast. It’s all about pure ingredients and drinkability.
While many craft breweries focus on ales, District specializes in lager, going so far as to make four different styles: German Pilsner Lager, Festbier Marzen Lager, Bavarian Dark Lager and West Coast Wheat Lager.
Although we only had an hour to tour the District brewing facilities, 90 minute tours are offered to the public (groups of eight or larger) and include a pint of beer for $20.
*Saskatchewanderer Favourite: Kevin loved the District Brewing Festbier Marzen Lager (a German-style malt that Brewer Walt specializes in.)
Rebellion Brewing Company
Wandering back to Dewdney, we stopped in for a mid-afternoon tour and tasting (free to the public, every Saturday at 2:00pm) at the Rebellion Brewing taproom.
We caught up with Zane and proceeded to spend several hours in the taproom, tasting and learning about how Rebellion makes their beer.
Rebellion is pushing creativity in the craft beer world as they’re now known for their innovative Lentil Crème Ale - using Saskatchewan-grown lentils, of course. They also partner with the Lady Rebels Beer Club, a group of women passionate about beer who meet up to learn, chat and sample tasty beers.
*Saskatchewanderer Favourite: Andrew’s a big fan of the latest kettle sour, Rebellion’s Peach Ginger Sour that’s made with 400 pounds of peach puree.
Pile O’ Bones Brewing Co.
Zane came along on our adventure of finding the back-alley entrance to Pile O’Bones, just off Scarth Street in downtown Regina (the only brewery in the downtown core).
Founded by four award-winning home brewers, their unique name is a nod to the piles of buffalo bones left by First Nations hunters who used to hunt in the region. When settlers arrived, they called it – yup, you guessed it – Pile of Bones.
You can get samples of their beer on tap in the basement brewery and pick up a growler or a 4-pack of cans to-go while checking out their brewing set-up. Otherwise find them on tap in numerous locations across Regina, Saskatoon and a few other locations around Saskatchewan.
*Saskatchewanderer Favourite: Ashlyn loves dark beer and is now adding a new favourite to her list, the Pile O’ Bones Peanut Butter Stout.
Malty National Brewing Corp.
Beer, coffee, pets and kids.
It’s seems an unlikely combination at Malty National (and 33 1/3 Coffee Roasters) but it was the perfect late afternoon stop for us to take a minute and catch our breath. Ordering up coffees with beer, we took an hour or two to regroup after an afternoon of non-stop beer sampling and food snacking.
The two businesses share the same building on 15th Avenue and have become quite a community hub. It’s not unusual to find kids, pets and adults hanging out and playing board games or watching movies together.
But what really makes the brewery stand out is that they always have something fresh and exciting on tap. Very rarely will you find the same beer twice at Malty.
After a “long, hard day” sampling as many beers across Regina as we could (hey, someone’s gotta do it, right?) we headed to Leopold’s for a bite to eat and a few more beers.
Leo’s has become the staple neighbourhood bar across Regina and Saskatoon. It’s a uniquely-Saskatchewan chain that has launched locations in Calgary and Winnipeg with three more planned for Saskatoon, Warman and Victoria, BC in 2019.
The eclectic, customer decorated walls and ceilings make the “OG” location in Regina feel cozy and welcoming. It was the perfect stopping place for Andrew, Kevin and I to kick back and relax with a good meal, a little jukebox music and a pint of beer.
Want to learn more about craft beer in Regina and Saskatchewan? Check out the Saskatchewan Craft Brewer’s Association.
Curious how drinking craft beer supports the local economy? Check out Masters of Their Craft: The Making of a Robust Beer Industry in the Greater Regina Area.