Calgary’s Pedal Pub is the Only Drinking Tour that Matters
A pub Crawl, a spin class and a karaoke group walk into a bar…
Hands down one of the best things I came across when I travelled Europe last year was their awesome half bike/half table contraption that rode around the streets of some cities. Usually they were carrying slightly drunk bachelor or bachelorette parties that were singing their little hearts out, looking like they were straight up having the absolute best time of their whole damn life.
I had no idea what it was, where it went, what cities had it or what it was even called, but I couldn’t wrap my head around why my hometown didn’t have this masterpiece of an activity.
ENTER PEDAL PUB.
A few months after my trip, the “summer months” (quotations cause this is a stretch if you know anything about Calgary- more like two warm weeks sprinkled in between June and August) started to roll around and I got an email inviting me to join a brewery tour that was done by table-bike.
It might have been the first of its kind in the city, but there was no intro needed here! I was all over it about 1.2 seconds after realizing my dreams of this drinking “sport” coming to Calgary had come true. I gathered my friends and we set on one of the best pre-drinking adventures we’d ever had!
Let’s preface this by saying we made a huge mistake by eating A TON of food before we came here. You’ll see why.
SO first thing first.
We met up at the Pedal Pub headquarters in Inglewood, and they gave us some wristbands and explained how it worked: we’d get on the table-bike, ride to a brewery or bar, get off, slam some beers and hop back on to pedal to the next stop, we’d end somewhere close by and we could continue drinking to our hearts content there.
He wouldn’t tell us where we were going, but he did tell us that we’d like Danielle, our ‘Beerless Leader’. Spoiler: ‘like’ was an understatement.
FIRST STOP: High Line Brewing
We rode the table-bike for five mins and made it to our first stop, the ridiculously cute High Line Brewing.
Here we ended up going with the most unique brews we saw: Wabi Sabi Yuzu Sour, Creamsicle Nitro IPA, Heartless Romantic Sour and Club Mate Hard Tea. Team fave was the Wabi Sabi Yuzu Sour!
Being the newbies we were, we completely underestimated the amount of time we had to drink our beers (about 20 mins) and ended up chugging half a pint in the last 30 seconds. Lesson learned.
Needless to say, pedaling hard – you’d be surprised how much work it is – after chugging the beer did not make us feel so great, but we were told we’d have more time at the next stop.
SECOND STOP: Revival Brewcade
In all honesty, I didn’t even know this place existed, so it was cool to stop somewhere new!
Feeling completely defeated due to our mediocre drinking skills, Paulina, Tom and I went for glass pours of the Oh Brother Honey Lager, while Wes braved another full pint – and chugged it somehow. I don’t know how.
This might have been my favourite stop out of all of them, not due to the drinks, just purely because I won 3 times in a row in a car racing video game.
After a few rounds of arcade games, it was time to get back on the bike!
Unfortunately, I felt equally as crappy from being way too full. Fortunately, it did not stop me from singing “Don’t Stop Believin’” my absolute hardest.
We did our longest stretch of biking and stopped in a nice spot to take a cute team photo. The photo was nice, but I was just happy to have an extra break to digest pre-tour brunch and the beers I’d had.
THIRD STOP: Swans
THIS PLACE IS A STAPLE IN INGLEWOOD. The bar has been standing since 1994! That’s longer than I’ve been on this earth damnit! And yet, many people have never even heard of it, making it extremely chill and freaking awesome.
Maybe it was deliberate, maybe it was divine intervention, but we landed here right in time for happy hour, making it even more awesome.
Danielle told us that we weren’t allowed to get back on the bike until we had at least one shot and a drink; we politely obliged. Model Pedal Pubers, if you ask me.
After a quick shot and settled in the comfy chairs at the front with all different drinks.
Here I made my first logical decision of the night and had a whiskey ginger, instead of a giant and overly filling beer. Not only did I feel like a proper Brit drinking Whiskey in a Traditional English Pub, but I had finally spared enough room in my belly to have two of those suckers.
Right as I finished the second whiskey ginger, we were rallied back onto the bike for the final stretch.
FINAL STOP: Cold Garden/ Ol’ Beautiful
We ended on a high note, literally, since we ended the tour with, say it with me, Bohemian Rhapsody. Obviously. Wouldn’t have had it any other way, cause this song really lets me demonstrate my range. I suck at singing – sorry to all the riders that lost their hearing on that tour - but it does NOT hold me back even a little bit.
We got dropped off at the final destination and from there we got to choose our own adventure, Ol’ Beautiful or Cold Garden. We tend to frequent Ol’ Beautiful, but there were SO many dogs at Cold Garden that night, so the choice was obvious.
We didn’t intend on having more than a drink or two here, but we each started with a flight and ended up staying three and a half hours, having three more beers and snagging some pizza from our table neighbours. Always a win in my books!
JUST SO YOU KNOW
➔ YOU CAN DRINK ON BOARD NOW *round of applause*.
When I took this tour at the beginning of June, we weren’t allowed to drink on board. On the fateful day of June 26th though, Pedal Pub officially announced that they would be able to serve beer on board.
I got to do a mini tour with this new feature, and I can confirm that it only improves the experience! Pic on the left for evidence.
You can buy a tall boy beforehand and keep it on board with you throughout the experience (you still have to drink the beers you buy at bars inside the bar, and drink a separate beer on the bike, but it’s an improvement nonetheless!).
Calgary is also the first city in Canada to make it happen, so it feels extra special!
➔ DO NOT EAT TOO MUCH BEFORE THIS TOUR.
Eat, but a normal amount. Do not hit up YYC Brunch Fest before the tour and eat everything you can get your hands on. As we’ve learnt from this, you won’t be able to crush beers in a timely fashion! Learn from our mistakes.
➔ YOU CAN BOOK A SEAT OR A BIKE.
Pedal Pub offers tours where you can buy a single seat at a time, which is perfect for a couple friends and it’s what we did. You can also book a full bike, which would most likely be even more fun and comes out a bit cheaper if you can gather 14 or 15 people (HMU if you’re looking for an extra person). This was our crew:
➔ THERE’S ALSO A TOUR ON 17th AVE.
Each tour is a little different from the other and you can end up at different breweries even if you take a tour in the same area, but this is awesome if you live downtown, you won’t even have to catch a cab to get home.
➔ YOU PAY FOR A SEAT ON THE BIKE AND BUY YOUR OWN LIQUOR AT THE BARS.
I liked it this way because I had a bit more control over what I drank and how much, and didn’t feel like I needed to drink pints every time to get my money’s worth!
BEFORE I GIVE YOU MY PARTING THOUGHTS
Let’s talk about Danielle quickly. ASK. FOR. HER. When you book a tour, you gotta have her, or at least try to!
She was all the right kinds of crude and ridiculous, knew exactly how to get the party started and clearly loved her job more than probably anyone in this city. I was sold on her in the first minute of the tour when she told us that when she rings the bell, we “better ride our fucking horses” and then played Old Town Road. It was perfect.
Not to say the other guides aren’t good, I wouldn’t know! BUT I’d guarantee that anyone would have an absolute blast with Danielle, so why risk it if you can be sure.
THIS WAS A PARTY AND A HALF. I will 100% be trying to get one more trip with Pedal Pub before the season ends. I think something fun like this is exactly what a somewhat lame city like Calgary needed to liven it up a bit. You can’t go wrong when you incorporate a group that’s ready to party, awesome breweries, and people on the street treating you like a celebrity.
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