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YYCTOURS Calgary Brewery Tour 
Tool Shed Brewing Co. Review - Oct 7, 2023 

We are pretty sure that everyone in Calgary knows the story. A couple of guys started brewing beer in a backyard tool shed, and it turned out pretty good, so they decided to make a go of it. Fast forward 15 years and you will find one of Calgary’s largest craft brewers, with beers available on every store shelf across Alberta. 


Tool Shed Brewing Company is located only a few minutes drive on Memorial from downtown Calgary at 801 30St NE. It is a massive space when compared to other local craft producers and it houses some of the best BBQ in Calgary, as the vast collection of food awards would tell you. 


One of our favourite things about Tool Shed is that pretty much anytime we stop in, and despite having a large team of brewers and staff, owner Graham, is always hands-on and can usually be spotted working away on some menial task while smiling away. On this trip we found him outside scrubbing bbqs and smokers and it is this kind of dedication, passion and willingness to pitch in and do what needs to be done that speaks volumes about the Tool Shed Brewing philosophy, and it reflects in their final product.

The Beer menu at Tool Shed Brewing in Calgary - by YYC Calgary Brewery Tours

Despite having a very large brewery in the back, the Tool Shed taproom does not feature as many beers as one would expect when compared to others in town. With that being said, there was at least one example of the standard styles like stouts, IPA, sours, lager etc. and despite a shortage of options, what is offered is extremely well-crafted. Usually when we select a flight for our Calgary brewery and beer Reviews, we can stay in one category like ‘IPA’s, Historical beers or Fruit Ales”, but that proved a little more difficult here so our style selection was all over the place. Today's flight contained some Tool Shed core beer and seasonal offerings. We enjoyed a Pilsner, Fruit Ale, a Sour and a California Common.  


We started with the beer we were most excited about, the California Common. This style of beer is often hard to find, and is arguably the first truly ‘North American’ submission into the beer world. Prior to this, most beers were lagers made by European settlers on the Eastern seaboard who brought with them recipes and brewing traditions from overseas. The California Common was first brewed in 1896 by Anchor Steam in San Francisco and is also known as Steam Beer. It is not made with steam, but lore says that Anchor Steam used coolships on the roof at night to try and get closer to lagering temperatures, which in California’s warmer climate, created steam. This beer by definition is clear, amber’ish’ in colour and exhibits a caramel/toast/malt with low hop aroma and Tool Shed nailed it. A nice medium carbonation provided a crisp and very smooth finish.

A flight of beer samples on a Calgary Beer tour at Tool Shed

Next up Pete’s Pils. “Pilsner” is an English word that translates as “from Pilsen.” Pilsen is the city in the Czech Republic where this style was first created. However, when we see the word Pils, we know it is used to describe a German ‘pilsner’ (5D BJCP guidelines). Some say the word 'Pils' is only used to differentiate German from Czech Pilsners, and to show respect for the Czech style. The difference is usually that the German version is drier and lighter in colour, and can often have a more cracker like taste, which was the case here at Tool Shed. The beer is light and crisp and crushable for lager fans. 


Our core beer, Prairie Berry Sour was everything you would expect from a sour, and then up another level for the use of Saskatoon berries. The beer wasn’t over-the-top sour, had a nice fruitiness and was easy to drink.

The torphy and awards rack at Tool Shed Brewery by Calgary Craft Beer Tours

Our selection for our Beer of the Week was the Passionfruit Blonde Ale. This tasty treat had a whole bunch of great things going on and was very well crafted and balanced. The passionfruit worked well with the hops and malt and all the ingredients were at perfect levels! If crushable means you could sit outside and drink 500 of these, then this beer is crushable for sure. 


We mentioned the food earlier and some props should definitely be given to the bbq team at Tool Shed. We had the bbq chicken and a burger and were so full after, that we actually drove back to the office super slow as we moaned about how full we were. Perfect! 


If Tool Shed sounds like a place you would like to visit on a craft beer brewery tour in Calgary, just let us know. YYCTOURS also offers Calgary Charters if you would like to plan your own event and just need a van and a driver. 

If you would like to know about beer styles, be sure to check out our education series. 


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