'More the merrier': Inglewood returns to brewery roots
2 microbreweries have opened in recent months — and there's more on the way
With two craft breweries opening in Inglewood in recent months and more on the way, some insiders are wondering aloud if the inner-city community is on the verge of once again becoming a brewery district.
Kurt Wikel is one of the owners at High Line Brewing which opened in November. He said craft brewers have a unique, non-competitive approach to each other.
"Microbreweries are sort of weird like that. It is probably the closest-knit group of business people that I have ever met," Wikel told CBC News on Sunday.
"They are very willing to help each other out, share knowledge, extremely supportive. When we opened our doors, the first 25 people through our doors were other brewers."
He said he would love it if more breweries popped up.
"It is sort of a more the merrier type of thing. We would like to see more breweries because it becomes a destination for people. It's easy to walk around, it's close to downtown, transit is simple," he said.
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"It's not a competitive thing at all."
That's music to the ears of Ben Leon, co-founder at The Dandy Brewing Company. He's looking to open a location in the nearby Ramsay neighbourhood.
"It's not 100 per cent but I'd say it's about 95 per cent right now," Leon said.
'City within a city'
Leon said the area has a great feel to it.
"It's so unique to Calgary to have such a great area that is pedestrian friendly. It has such great culture there especially with the independent ownership of restaurants, bars and stores," he said.
"It is a unique sort of city within a city."
Leon said more breweries looking at the area is a win-win.
"People who love craft beer love to try lots of craft beer," he said. "The idea that there is one neighbourhood in Calgary that is the brewery neighbourhood means we all do better and we can all bring more notoriety to Alberta beer and Calgary beer."
Inglewood is no stranger to having a brewery anchor the community.
The Calgary Brewing and Malting Company was founded in the 1880s and only shut down in the 1990s.
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra loves the idea of returning to Inglewood's roots.
"You are seeing a huge resurgence in the craft-brewing movement and that movement, like the creative, tech industries and stuff are gravitating towards real neighbourhoods, towards cool, walkable neighbourhoods," Carra said.
"I think it's a great story."
He said it's about creating a neighbourhood.
"A great neighbourhood is the best piece of hardware human beings have ever invented to run the software of a vibrant culture and a diversified economy," he said.
More on the way
"The fact that you see the breweries, the tech industry, the creative classes and the arts moving to neighbourhoods like this and setting them on fire with all kinds of cool things, is just a testament."
Carra added there are more breweries planned for the area.
Long-time resident Bob Fulton said he has enjoyed watching the community evolve.
"I would love to see a resurrection of Inglewood. It is a family-oriented place, especially for pedestrians very much like Kensington," Fulton said.
"I would like to see it progress further and further along that line."
For High Line Brewing's Wikel, it's also about the people.
"The people are great. The street itself, the historic district, is awesome and the whole feel of the community is something we want to be a part of and help grow."
With files from Terri Trembath