top of page

YYCTOURS 
Calgary Brewery Tour Reviews 
Trolley 5  
Jan 2024 
Flight- mixed

Trolley 5 Brewery logo

On our Calgary Brewery Tours, we always get to meet wonderful people of all identities and backgrounds who share a common interest, good craft beer. These enthusiasts come from different cultures, ages and all genders proving that despite misperceptions, everyone who loves locally made small batched beer does not have a beard and wears a toque. As George Eliot said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and it is this saying that first came to mind when we recently stopped into a local Calgary brewery. 

 

If we asked you what kind of beer is served at a sports bar, your response is most likely going to be Budweiser, Coors etc. If we asked you what kind of food is served in a sports bar, your answer is probably going to be chicken wings and fried foods. But that would be judging a book by its cover. 

 

Located in the heart of the Red Mile, Trolley 5 is a well known location on 17th Ave. It is surrounded by many other bars and restaurants who all offer something unique, and Trolley 5 is no exception. 

inside trolley 5 brewery

Upon first glance, with its many TV’s, large seating capacity, brewing equipment and hockey-jerseyed staff, one would simply chalk Trolley up as a sports bar on 17th Ave that makes beer. That however would be a mistake. Having won gold medals on the national stage to go along with several provincial awards, Trolley 5 does indeed make seriously good beer worthy of checking out. Their food menu is equally as good offering ‘sports bar’ items, along with smoked meats, great burgers and one of our favourite foods, soup dumplings which is part of the featured Dim Sum! The venue itself is a well-designed and massive space with a capacity of nearly 400 seats across three floors. Trolley also has a large production facility in Calgary's northeast overseen by Trolley 5's head brew-master Craig Pearson, where they brew most of their canned products for distribution along with some of the beers found on tap at the 17th Ave location.


On our impromptu visit we were fortunate enough to meet Trolley’s 17th Ave lead brewer, Matt Reimer, who not only sat down with us to talk about Trolley 5, but who also generously provided us with a behind the scenes look at his downtown operations. This private tour came complete with access to a hidden brewery floor in the basement and samples of upcoming releases straight from the tank. As any beer geek can attest, drinking beer from a pigtail is the ultimate in beer sampling. A pigtail in brewing is a tool that connects to the brite tank and allows the brewer to test and taste the beer at any time as it carbonates and ages prior to packaging. Because the beer in the tank is being carbonated and under a lot of pressure, the pigtail allows that pressure to be slowly released so that the brewers glass does not end up all foam. The beers we tasted that are ‘coming down the pipe’ (we won’t spoil the surprise) were excellent and once they are released, we will be back for a full pint.

Beer being poured from a pigtail

Trolley 5's 17th Ave location's lead brewer Matt got his start like many others in the industry. He was an office worker and home brewer who wanted to get out of the suit and tie game and decided he would rather learn more and expand on his brewing capabilities, so he made the leap and applied to be an assistant at Big Rock Brewery. There he grew his knowledge and further fueled his passion for brewing before applying at Trolley 5 as a full-time brewer. Now, three years later, as the lead downtown brewer and working under Craig Pearson's wing, Matt oversees a uniquely designed brewery while helping to keep at least 14 beers on tap at all times.

 

Of those 14 beers, our beer flight included a choice of 5 samples. Here at Trolley, there were several styles of Pale Ales and IPA’s, so we went in that direction, while also grabbing an amber lager, a porter and wheat ale.

A flight of beer at Trolley 5 brewery in Calgary

Upbeat Wheat Ale - At first sip we found the flavour and aroma of this collab beer made with UNA Pizza to be heavily hopped for what should be expected in a standard wheat ale, but then we were amazed at how incredibly smooth the finish was and that it did not leave any bitterness. Achieving that task is not easy. Dry Hopping a beer is a great way to add hop flavour and aroma to your beer, but it can also go sideways in a hurry. Here, the brew team did a superb job of creating a fascinating balance between hoppy beer and crushable beer. The aroma of this wheat beer was a smack in the face of citrus but drank light despite the abundance of hop flavour and the fact that the brewer presented this unique take on a classic style is all the more reason to respect this beer. 

 

First Crush White IPA - The White IPA is a cross between an American IPA (American means more hops cuz bigger is better right) and a Belgian Wheat Ale, so this is one where you can anticipate heavy hops. True to form, Trolley delivered everything you would expect from this beer. The one thing we noted was that the head on this beer was insanely dense. It was almost like a meringue and that can tell us a couple things about the beer;  the brewery is using quality malts and adjuncts and not skimping on quantities, and that the beer is served at a good temperature. This beer was very well done.

Food and beer at Trolley 5 brewery

Young Gunz Cold IPA - The term ‘Cold’ IPA does not mean it is simply a chilled IPA. The word cold here refers to the temperature at which the beer was fermented and the type of yeast used. As we cover on our Calgary Brewery Tours, ales ferment with ale yeast at warmer temperatures, while lagers ferment with lager yeast at cooler temperatures. When making a Cold IPA the brewers goal is to present a very crisp and clean version of a West Coast IPA that just so happens to be made with lager yeast while containing a simple grain bill. This paired with the use of dry-hopping helps showcase the hops without masking them behind malts resulting in a very hop-forward crushable lager’ish’ style beer. 

 

The Conductor Beltline Lager - Weirdly enough we picked an amber lager as our beer of the week last time around, and here we are again. Simply put, this beer was excellent! A very balanced and smooth toasty caramel flavour with little hop bitterness. The malt sweetness gave us an almost fruity ester quality in the finish which we really enjoyed and which left us wishing we didn’t have to drive home. 

 

Coco Dreams Porter - Unfortunately, we saved this one for last, and after our little private tour with Matt, we didn’t have much time to sit and finish the glass, plus we were driving. But first impressions were that this Coconut Chocolate Porter was certainly made for the holidays. The dark chocolate and coconut flavours were rich and creamy.

the secret brewery floor at trolley 5

In Summary, Trolley 5 truly exceeded our expectations by providing a great experience and we can’t wait to go back! Matt was awesome, Brenden our server was great, the beer was very well made, the food was delicious, the room was cool, and hey, it has lots of TV’s for hockey!  If this sounds like the kind of place you would like to visit on a brewery tour of Calgary, let us know. 

 

If beer is not your thing, YYCTOURS also offers Calgary Wine Tours and Distillery Tours

 

Its our goal to visit every brewery in Calgary in one year, to see our take on other breweries in town we have been to, check out more reviews here.

bottom of page