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YYCTOURS
Calgary Brewery Tours - Brewery Review
Eighty Eight Brewing Co.
  Nov 19, 2023
Flight - Historical / Dark 

Logo for eighty eight brewing co. with image of brewery interior in the background in Calgary by YYC Beer Tours

While we were walking the dog at the park with our pack this weekend, we mentioned to one of our group (Dave) that we were planning to visit Eighty-Eight Brewing Co. (“88”) for a tasting and review, but that we did not think anyone would read it since we are pretty sure that everyone in Calgary has already been there. Well, it turns out that Dave hasn’t, so, Dave, this review is for you. 

 

Dave, Eighty-Eight was founded in 2018, 30 years after the Calgary Winter Olympics which it is themed after. 80’s decor and Olympic merchandise and paraphernalia can be found throughout the room. Think Nintendo, duffle bags, mixed-tapes, wind-breakers and neon.  88 is located at 2600 Portland Street SE Calgary, just east of the Crossroads farmers market and part of the Alyth/Bonnybrook/Ramsey brewery district as YYCTOURS covered in our breakdown of all Calgary's walkable brewery districts here

 

Although the venue is super trendy in the craft scene, that popularity has not gone to 88’s heads. YYCTOURS Calgary Brewery Tours visit a lot of Calgary breweries and we can say with certainty that the staff at 88 are some of the nicest and friendliest in town and we are always excited to stop in.  

An image of pizza and meatballs at eighty eight brewing in calgary by YYCTOURS Calgary Brewery Tours and Calgary Charters

88 features an in-house pizza spot called Portland Street Pizza, which serves up some crazy deep dish, meatballs, cheese plates and more. Any time that we bring our guests here, they always rave about the food for the rest of the tour. Another thing that our guests talk about that 88 does well is something called beer. Dave, we know you don’t drink a lot of beer, so let us try our best to describe 88’s beer menu, what’s so great about it, and why you need to go have some.

 

Eighty-Eight offers absolutely something for everyone on tap (and in can). Pink lemonade, Vodka Cocktails, Cider and close to 2 dozen beers of all styles. It also seems that anytime we visit 88, there is always a new beer or product to try, which is another of several reasons to keep coming back. Although they are very well known for making some of the best hazy beers and IPA’s in Calgary and have several provincial and national awards to prove it, they also craft standard, historical and classic styles of beer as well.  Dave, as you have heard us say before, historical and classic styles of beer are our favourite because we believe that going back to where beer started is a great way to understand more about the beer of today and the future. So, with that being said, Dave, let us share with you what we had at 88. 

A flight of dark beer at eighty eight on a YYCTOURS Calgary Beer tour and charter

Today’s flight consisted of three beers that we were very excited to order. ‘Good Morning’ Vietnamese Coffee Stout which is a modern take on a very old beer style, ‘Sidetrack’ Dry Irish Stout which is a style first brewed in the 1700’s and then made famous by Guinness in the 1800’s, and ‘Total Eclipse’ Black Pilsner, a derivative of Czech Dark Lager first brewed in the 1400’s.  

 

Dave, the Vietnamese Coffee Stout which we selected as Calgary’s Beer of the Week is everything you would expect from the name and then some. Dark, somewhat smooth and creamy and containing coffee. Under the BJCP Guidelines, there are several types of stouts that all display different characteristics. Irish Stout, Sweet Stout, Tropical, Foreign Extra, Oatmeal, Imperial, American and Extra Irish Stout. The difference between them all aside from where they are made, is usually the level of roast, sweetness, alcohol content or hop bitterness. Upon first sip, we figured this to be a version of an Extra Irish Stout or American Stout because it came in at 6.5% ABV and we picked up some elevated hop bitterness at the end, more than we would with an Irish or Oatmeal and less sweetness than an Oatmeal or Tropical. However, that bitterness did not linger, instead it faded into a somewhat dry-earthy-coffee-like flavour that almost certainly came from the use of Chicory. Chicory is a plant relative of the dandelion and its roots have been used for centuries as a coffee substitute or additive. 88 seems to enjoy making beer with coffee as last year they made a coffee IPA that we really liked to drink. Hey Dave, with the Good Morning Coffee Stout, you can also add condensed milk for free. We did not add it this time, but will for sure next time.

a can of Good Morning Vietnames Coffe Stout from 88 brewery by YYCTOURS Calgary Beer tours and charters

Second up was the Sidetrack Dry Irish Stout. Stouts, which are derivatives of Porters, were first brewed in the 1700’s. A favourite of Catherine the Great of Russia and exported to her Imperial Court by Thrale’s of London,  leading to the name ‘Imperial Stout’. As mentioned above, there are several variations of Stouts that are all made differently by region, and the Dry Irish Stout was made famous in Ireland by Guinness. Aside from its characteristics of roast/coffee notes and below 5% ABV, another factor that usually separates Dry Irish Stout from others is that it is poured using Nitrogen and not CO2. Most beers are poured with CO2 which is an acidic gas that adds a ‘bite’ to the pain receptors in your tongue when the bubbles touch it, but when combined with sweetness provide a pleasurable sensation. Beer poured with Nitro (actually 70% nitrogen / 30% CO2) creates much smaller and more abundant bubbles that cascade and create a more creamy, thick or flat sensation as opposed to being effervescent. Other beer styles can be poured on Nitro, which can add depth and flavour changes, but for the most part, Dry Irish Stout is the beer that is always poured on Nitro. 88’s Sidetrack is a great version of the Dry Irish. It was super smooth, roasty, creamy, very milkshake-esque, contained no hop bitterness and had an appropriate ABV and levels of roasty flavour. Like with every beer, but specifically dark ones,  stouts release their flavours as they warm up, so Dave, let this one sit for a few minutes.

 

Lastly we had the ‘Total Eclipse’ and like the other two, really enjoyed it. Total Eclipse is a dark pilsner, which for the sake of discussing beer history means, it's a dark lager. Pilsners originated in Pilsen, Czech Republic in the 1800’s and came to be only after the coke furnace was invented.  This creation allowed a maltster to have better control over his malting temperatures, when before that, malts were cooked over a flame and were dark and smokey, and so were the beers that were made using them. It wasn’t until the invention of these furnaces in the late 1800’s that Pilsner malt (light colour) was created, along with the beer itself. Here at 88, the use of Pilsner malt makes it a Pilsner, but the addition of darker roasted malts make it a ‘dark’ pilsner. It has the same mouthfeel that any pilsner has, light and bubbly, along with the pilsner bread taste, but the addition of darker malts, in this case Carafa Special 3 malt, provides hints of roasted espresso and chocolate. 

Ok, Dave, that pretty much sums it up. Let us know if you want to stop by Eighty-Eight sometime. 

 

For those of you not named Dave, if 88 sounds like the kind of place you would like to visit on YYCTOURS Calgary’s Best Brewery Tour where you will sample and learn about great beers like these, please let us know below. 

YYCTOURS also has charters available if you would like to plan your own Calgary event and just need a van and driver. 

To see more Calgary Brewery Reviews, Click here

 

Cheers.

YYCTOURS

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