Take the TransCanada southeast of Calgary and you’ll likely slip into a trance: the endless sky, the rolling ranch land cut with coulees, a strong prairie wind. Then you’ll catch sight of the world’s tallest teepee on the horizon and, like the travellers of centuries’ past, your brain will snap to attention. You’ve reached Medicine Hat, an oasis in the desert, home to a great group of young craft breweries honouring the city’s rich history.
Medicine Hat Brewing
The original Medicine Hat Brewing Co. opened on Industrial Avenue in 1913, but was forced to close a decade later when the local temperance movement took hold. Parched locals had to wait almost a century for craft beer to be brewed locally again, but in 2016 a new group of brewers dusted off the old name and Medicine Hat Brewing Co. was re-born.
Raise a glass to The Hat’s history with the Industrial Ave. IPA, named for the address of the original brewery, or the Brick and Mortar Porter which honours the clay and brick industry that helped Medicine Hat become what it is today.
The tap room features a giant community table where travellers can commune with locals over a beer and an in-season made-from-scratch meal from MHBC’s Red Seal chef. The steady support from a crew of regulars means the place always feels like home.
Hell’s Basement Brewery
Over 100 years ago, journalist and author Rudyard Kipling rode a train across Canada. He was thoroughly unimpressed with the prairies except for one city: Medicine Hat. “This part of the country seems to have all Hell for a basement, and the only trap door appears to be in Medicine Hat. And you don’t even think of changing the name of your town. It’s all your own and the only hat of its kind on earth.”
Taste the history of the wild west with the Ghost Train Oatmeal Stout, which honours the spooky story of a paranormal encounter with a phantom locomotive just down the tracks from Medicine Hat. Or follow the fine taste of the locals with a six-pack of HuruHuru, a New Zealand Hopped Pale Ale with a hint of citrus, voted Alberta’s Best Shower Beer in 2019.
Travois Ale Works
Before the owners of Travois Ale Works could start slinging pints, they spent months restoring a bit of Medicine Hat history. Their downtown tasting room now shows off the IXL brick that built much of The Hat’s early success, and the history behind their name goes back even further. Travois were Plains Indigenous drag sleds — two long poles dragged by a dog or horse.
You’ll love year-round stalwarts like Scottish Export or the refreshing Hibiscus Ginger Mead, but be sure to see what’s on tap inside since Travois Ale Works has a great selection of small batch experiments.