You wouldn’t think of Saskatoon, lying in the middle of the plains in Saskatchewan province, Canada, as a destination city. It’s a small city which becomes unimaginably (to us) frigid in the winter. Fortunately, last year and this year the University of Saskatchewan needed to hire a locum anesthesiologist during the summer, so we got to do a working holiday during the best part of the year for the city. Although I was on call, I could take Susan around to the breweries and distilleries in town.
LB Distilleries is in a warehouse district north of town is produces a wide range, though it seems aimed at a more general audience than us.
On our last visit, a wedding had just let out, flooding the tasting room with people and making us beat a hasty retreat. Black Fox Farm is down Valley Rd. southwest of town. It’s a small family operation just as we like. They have a great lineup of liqueurs as well as some good but expensive gin and vodka. They were preparing for a festival when we visited, and had a couple from Calgary who produce hand made shoes and brought some along. Susan found several that she liked and picked out a pair which was both comfortable and extremely attractive.
We picked up a bottle of their Saskatoon Berry Liqueur, which is not only delicious but, obviously, hyper local. The last non-brewery we visited was Crossmont Cidery, which was incredibly beautiful but reminded us of a high-end winery- not our usual scene. The cider was unremarkable, so we bounced pretty quickly.
The breweries range from extremely promising to just fine. At the top end is Prairie Sun Brewing, which produces a great range including an rich chocolatey roasty porter called Toffee 5 and a very clean farmhouse ale- Crazy Farm Ale.
Paddock Wood Brewing- Saskatoon’s oldest brewery- and 9 Mile Legacy Brewing- the newest- are fine middle-of-the-road breweries with some hits and some misses.
Saskatoon Brewery is housed in Ingredients, a high-end food market, which you would never know from the outside. Their lineup is not very imaginative but is executed well. It’s not a comfortable place for a pint, though, so bring a growler if possible. Fox & Hounds is evidently a brewpub, but comes across as a dive/frat bar which is overly expensive. Great Western is a regional/macro brewery technically made in Saskatoon, but they don’t offer tours or have any particularly interesting beers, so we’re not going to count them.
We’re not sure we would suggest you go out of your way to visit Saskatoon during the summer, but if you’re headed even vaguely in that direction, you should spend a few days there. They have the highest per-capita restaurants in Canada, an extremely walk-friendly city, and a very respectable alcohol tourism scene.