Dandy Brewing: Alberta’s First Nanobrewery

If you were to reference the term ‘Dandy’ in the dictionary, you might find the following definition: “A man unduly devoted to style, neatness, and fashion in dress and appearance.”

But if you were to ask any beer-loving Calgarian what a Dandy is, they’d probably tell you it’s one of their new drinks of choice.

The Dandy Brewing Company is a trio of home brew enthusiasts, including Dylan Nosal, Derek Wagray, and Ben Leon, who jumped on the opportunity to start making small batch beer when the laws around brewing first changed in late 2013. Since incorporating last January, the company has been busy creating a unique selection of British style ales and stouts in the tiniest amounts.  

Introducing flagship products like the Golden Brown Dandy Ale and the Dandy In The Under World Sweet Oyster Stout, these beers are far from typical. Anyone who’s looking to try something new will be pleasantly surprised with the lighter style of the Under World; a nice change from customary stout options like Guinness, and a perfect pairing for pub food and seafood snacks.

So what exactly is a nanobrewery?

Technically speaking, this kind of operation is production under 10 hectoliters, compared to a microbrewery that makes anywhere from 10 to 40 hectoliters of beer.

By dialing back production, brewers take a very hands-on approach and because the finished product equates to cases – not flats – there’s more liberties taken with the flavour, ingredients, and techniques. In other words, there’s way more room to experiment working in this format, compared to bigger breweries that are often required to brew products that appeal to a wider audience.   

When we asked Dandy’s Ben Leon about the local brewing scene, his answer was quite simple: “It’s awesome.

As he explained, Alberta has far less breweries per capita than other provinces like British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, which means there’s lots of room for the community to grow, which means that currently there’s no stepping on each other’s toes. 

Ben also commented on how helpful other microbrewers have been since they opened for business. Whether it’s obtaining last minute ingredients or equipment for bottling, everyone has been very willing to lend a hand.

Like many of the local microbreweries, the nanobrewery has their own distribution rights, which allows them to hand sell each batch to a number of local liquor stores, boutiques ,and restaurants as the beers are made.

And with as little as 30 cases being made at a time, they tend to sell out rather quickly. So our advice: if you see any Dandy on the shelf, don’t think twice about picking it up.


Images by: Arif Ansari

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