Edmonton's Happy Beer Street continues to brew as new taprooms open in the area
Owners are encouraging other prospective owners to move in for more density
New taprooms are being added to Edmonton's unofficial brewery district along 99th Street, and brewers are hoping more continue to open to help boost beer tourism.
The area is being referred to as Happy Beer Street by craft brewers, between Whyte Avenue and 60th Avenue along 99th Street.
Seven craft breweries are located in the area including Sea Change Brewing, Bent Stick Brewing, Blind Enthusiasm, The Monolith, Longroof Brewing, Omen Brewing and Alley Kat Brewing.
The Monolith, which is run by Blind Enthusiasm, opened its unique taproom along 78th Avenue last month, offering mixed-fermentation beers that take a few years to brew.
Greg Zeschuk, the owner, is excited not only for the potential of his taproom along 99th Street, but prospective breweries as well. He and other brewers have been encouraging brewers to open up shop in the area and even helping them find locations.
"Our objective has been to get as many breweries as possible, because it'll just kind of create this ecosystem where people know they can come to have a great time and check out some of the local breweries," Zeschuk said.
"These are all owned by people living in and around the city, and they put a lot of love into what they do."
Across the avenue from Monolith is Bent Stick Brewing. Construction of its taproom is underway. The owners hope to open to the public in about a month.
The brewery was previously located in north Edmonton, but moved to the south side in September 2020. The move was for a larger space, but also to be near other breweries in the area for walkability and potential to collaborate with the competition.
"Having the Ritchie neighbourhood right there and just the amount of residential within walking distance is fantastic. We look forward to being sort of a neighbourhood brewery," said Cole Boyd, co-owner of Bent Stick Brewing.
"And as far as Happy Beer Street, being able to get people to come and take transit or ride bikes or drive, but then they can go off to several other breweries one after another."
Ian McIntosh, owner of Sea Change Brewing, was involved in the launch of the Happy Beer Street name, merchandise and even a collaborative dry-hopped sour last July.
"It's just an effort to do more with the existing breweries in this area. Do collaborative stuff and when restrictions are eased, we can do bigger events altogether and just have a community aspect going on," McIntosh said.
Andrew Ironmonger, publisher of the Alberta Beer Guide, compares the district and its potential to the Barley Belt in Calgary. Ten taprooms in an industrial area there hold events and put on brewery tours.
Ironmonger says Happy Beer Street will bring Edmonton's craft beer drinkers to the area and also attract tourists, as many visit local craft breweries on their trips.
"You can visit a half-dozen breweries entirely in an afternoon or space them out, take your time, get an Airbnb nearby, get a hotel nearby and do it over a couple of days or a long weekend," he said. "That's going to bring people from out of town, from out of province and even from out of the country."
Ironmonger expects the list of breweries in the Happy Beer Street area to expand. He says he's aware of a half-dozen beer business owners who are planning to open or are currently in negotiations on locations.