Why have Labatt Blue, Molson Canadian or a Smirnoff Vodka when there are great craft beers and spirits made right in Saskatoon? The answer is you shouldn’t and I won’t. When I travel the first thing I look for are local products and that includes beer and spirits. When I dine out I always ask what’s local on your drink list? Whether they pull me a pint from a microbrewery or mix up a wicked cocktail using Gin, Vodka or Whiskey I always prefer to drink local and my first visit to Saskatoon is all about local craft beverages. Let’s grab a drink
You can try all the locally made spirits and brews in the many fine restaurants in Saskatoon but I love to go right to the source and visit the tasting rooms. Here are a few you should visit. They are all within Saskatoon city limits so easy to get to. Raise your glass it’s time for a toast let’s go “Saskatooning”.
LB Distillers aka Lucky Bastard Distillery – What would you do if you won Lotto 649? For Michael Goldney and Lacey Crocker, the answer was simple, open up a distillery. Opened in 2011 they started with Vodka and have since gone on to make Gin, Whiskey, Rum, fruit Liqueurs and even a line of Bitters.
Book a tour before the tasting. They last for 25 minutes, are free and best of all the tasting is inlcuded. You will want to make sure to try their signature Gambit Gin and Birmingham’s Dill Pickle Vodka (it’s a Saskatchewan thing). They also make Haskap infused Gin and a Single Malt Scotch.
My personal favourite was the Haskap Gin. I discovered the Haskap Berry two years ago during a trip to Atlantic Canada and Saskatoon is one of the largest producers of this berry in Canada. It looks like a blueberry but it’s not. Try it.
Black Fox Farm & Distillery – You’re probably familiar with the term farm to table, but did you know there is such a thing as farm to bottle? At Black Fox Farm & Distiller,y 90% of what is in every bottle is grown on their 80-acre farm. From grains to make the base alcohol to the fruit used to flavour the spirits and liqueurs. Black Fox is one of the few on-farm distilleries operating in North America and it is right in Saskatoon.
A visit to the farm will most certainly involve a tasting of one of their Vodka’s, maybe a liqueur or two, and most certainly the gins. Start with the #3 and #7 and finish with the Oaked Gin. My personal favourite.
Aged in oak barrels until it is just perfect. This gin won the World’s Best Cask Gin at the Work Gin Awards in 2017. It’s a sipping gin that you would enjoy just like you would a whiskey or a bourbon.
If you are in town during pumpkin season make sure to take part in the pumpkin roll, it’s fun for the whole family.
9 Mile Legacy Brewing – A lot goes into naming a brewery and 9 Mile Legacy Brewing is no exception. Their story starts 100 years ago when two family farms near Swift Current, Saskatchewan were 9 miles apart. They became friends and during tough times were there to support each other through it.
Shawn and Garrett have continued this tradition of friendship and collaboration by opening up this brewery in 2015. The collaboration doesn’t stop there either as they often collaborate with other business to create unique beers just for them. A great example is a beer on tap at Odd Couple, brewed to complement the Asian flavours in the food menu.
Located in the heart of Saskatoon, 9 Mile Legacy Brewing is a great place to have a beer after work and get your growler filled for the weekend. They have 9 taps at the bar and aside from a few regulars, most rotate with the season and what’s being brewed. Hopefully, they have a Sour or two on tap as they brew a wicked sour.
My personal favourites are the Hefeweizen and the Kettle Sour.
Shelter Brewing Company – Come the middle of August 2018 the newest microbrewery in Saskatchewan will open its doors on 2nd Ave South in Saskatoon. Stuart and Sarah have dreamed of opening their own Nano brewery for over 5 years and this August the dream becomes reality.
They are still in the process of finalizing the renovation but once the doors open it will be a very popular hangout. They are even adding a wall mounted bike rack inside the tasting room. So if are out for a weekend cycle, why not hang your bike try one of Stuarts’ New England IPA, Saison or a Brown Ales.
Once they are in full production I expect seasonal beers will start flowing but those three promise to make up the core offering. During my “preview visit” I tried their Brut IPA which was very delicious and perfect for hot patio weather.
Now that I’ve been to the source I can order with confidence during the rest of my stay. You know I’ll be asking for the Black Fox Oaked Gin to be in my cocktail and I plan on pairing my dumplings at Odd Couple with the 9 Mile Legacy