Wild Rose Brewery and Taproom – Calgary, AB
Wild Rose Brewery
Bldg AF23,#2 – 4580 Quesnay Wood Drive SW
Calgary, Alberta T3E 7J3
My personal philosophy puts a premium on balance. I believe that balance is one of the key elements in all aspects of life. This doubly applies to food. and drink. The flavours in a dish, the beer that you drink, people find things that are in balance to be more pleasing, and harmonious. Philosophically though, i’ve always wondered. Can a place that focuses primarily on wine, or beer, still serve great food? Do places excel at both? Or does an establishment that focuses most of their energy on producing great beverages, have a limited amount of energy to spend on the food? Wild Rose Brewery in Calgary is an interesting case study.
Wild Rose Brewery is great at brewing beer. Located in the Currie Barracks complex, they are a craft brewery that produces a variety of beers served across Alberta. They maintain a taproom that fronts their brewery, allowing patrons to sample their current production lineup. With some highly regarded and award winning beers,Wild Rose is doing some exciting things.
As was pointed out to me in an earlier post, i am certainly no expert on beer. So i will spend very little time discussing Wild Rose Brewery beer. I will say, however, that this is a fantastic brewery. Their philosophy of fresh ingredients, combined with classic brewing techniques results in some excellent interpretations. Rather than dumb down your standard beers, they brew some true interpretations of classic global beers. Their Imperial IPA is phenomenal, and seasonally, the Stout and Pilsner are must tries for me.
However, Foodosophy is about the food. The Wild Rose Brewery Taproom, as is required by law, serves food with their beer. Their menu is an upscale pub type menu. Dips, hearty dishes, fresh and healthy, it follows a lot of the same philosophies they use to brew their beer. Beer and food itself is an interesting study – as beer has a much larger range in both flavour profile, texture, and alcohol content. It is, in theory, a much better fit in pairing with food.
Starting with the beef barley and vegetable soup, i find it to be adequate. It is somewhat beefy, though the broth is a little thin, and the barley and vegetables are fresh, and plentiful. It’s a decent soup, but nothing innovative or exciting. The biggest problem is the lack of seasoning. It feels very bland on the palette.
I follow this up with an order of their meat chili. Pork and beef simmered in aromatics and spices, and likely de-glazed with some of their beer, this should be a big hit, especially in pairing with beer. Chili presents a lot of opportunity to deliver big flavour. Spice, heat, savoury – some sweetness and caramelization, chili should be an excellent pairing. Unfortunately, it’s not, It’s nice, but the sauce is a bit insipid. Flat. Lacking any real dynamic elements. It tastes ok with a beer, and not quite as good without it, but it lacks any sort of real character. A decent dish in the sense that it’s fresh, and filling, but flavourwise, i am disappointed.
I have tried a variety of their food dishes, mostly because i usually need something to eat with the small quantities of beer i ingest. I have to say, universally, i find it all to be roughly the same. Moderately priced (though getting up there for pub food), somewhat bland, plain, and uninspired. I would rather invest my money on taking home some of their great brews in a portable keg shaped like a pig. It doesn’t get any cooler than that for your next party, let me tell you!
At the end of the day, Wild Rose Brewery is an excellent brewery. Their philosophy on using fresh, local ingredients and supplemeting them with a variety of hops, local and imported, bring about balanced flavours resulting in some of the best, complex, and flavourful beers available in Alberta. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for their food. While it is fresh made with good ingredients, the food is bland, without any inspiration, and to be honest, not a worthy pairing to the fine beer being served. I’d like to see much bolder flavours, and a lot more innovation in the menu. They play it safe with homey classics, but it seems to strike the wrong chord for me. Sadly, i will have to continue my search for an establishment that successfully marries excellent beer with excellent food. If you know of any, i would love to hear about it.