I was so excited when Mill St. Brewery invited Matt and I to come over for some drinks and snacks tonight to celebrate their first birthday at the Calgary Brewpub location on 17th Ave. We wandered over after work to check out what was on offer.
The place was packed already by about 6 p.m. despite the crazy 17th Ave construction outside. The birthday celebration was fabulous, with their invited guests handed a tasting glass and a voucher for a free growler upon walking through the door. Full disclosure, Matt and I are already avid fans of Mill St beer and food, in part due to their proximity to our place and their smokin’ happy hour deals. I also think it’s great that despite them being a nation-wide brand, all of their food is sourced locally (I mean, except for things like mussels, which they still buy from a local Calgary supplier) and made fresh in-house. This includes their sauces and things like the hand-made gouda perogies, which I know from personal experience are hella labour intensive. If my dad suddenly turned his winter perogy-making sessions into a commercial operation, I would probably just quit the family.
The beer stations were cool and gave people a chance to check out the hops, but I’m not a beer expert, so I’ll steer clear of territory where I could say anything inaccurate! What I will tell you – we tried an ISA, the Twin Tips Double IPA (my sweet, strong and fruity new favourite!), the Honest Bucker Pale Ale (one of their top sellers), a white ale and their special one year anniversary pale ale. The anniversary brew was Matt’s top pick of the night – it was fruity, hoppy and still quite smooth. Definitely not as sweet as my pick (quelle surprise).
The first food station we hit up was the gouda perogies, easily one of my favourite menu items at Mill St. You can get these as a main ($14/$19) with garlic sausage, beer-braised cabbage, wild boar bacon and caramelized onion or as a brunch item ($15) with two poached eggs! Matt’s only regret was that he didn’t have my foresight in taking two perogies. He’ll just have to live with that regret until the next time we go back for a full order.
The next station we hit up was the ribs. I’m pretty particular about ribs. These were served St. Louis-style and you can pick them up as a main for $24 with slaw and fries. Not the biggest stand-out on their menu, but with the nice sauce and juicy cut of meat it makes for a sweet and smoky bite. No complaints!
Poutine and Honest Bucker Pale Ale was a nice pairing! I was saying to Matt that I don’t know why I’m such a poutine hound since I don’t really love fries and I never go out of my way for gravy… which made me realize that what my heart really wants is just a bowl of squeaky cheese curds. I had to settle for these instead and I didn’t mind at all! Mill St has a few poutine flavour combos, but the classic curds and gravy is available for $12. Not the squeakiest curds (I’m not sure why, but this is somehow an important factor), but they definitely had a nice ratio of gravy:fries:cheese, which as we all know is key.
Next up was mussels in a leek, cream and cider sauce. Chili flakes were definitely introduced into the process at some point as well. I don’t usually go out of my way for most shellfish (shell-tered prairie upbringing, sorry!) but I quite liked these mussels! Mine were cooked perfectly and the extra scoop of creamy sauce I poured over really sent these over the top for me. I’m not someone who can sit through a whole pound of mussels ($18), but I will 100% suggest sharing these next time I come in with a shellfish-friendly crowd.
Our last stop was the braised short rib taco station where they were dishing them up on warm corn tortillas with a fresh cabbage, carrot and chipotle aioli slaw, pickled onions and tomato salsa. These were nuts! The acid and zest from the fixings complemented the sweet, succulent beef perfectly. I would definitely come back for an order of these ($15).
It makes me so sad to see Mill St (219 17 Ave SW) and other businesses in our neighbourhood dealing with the construction on 17th Ave. It’s really had an impact on sales for many of these places, most of them locally owned and operated. Please keep them in mind – there really is still quite a bit of parking on the side streets nearby and it’s easy walking distance from Stampede Station.
Tonight’s event was lovely and really opened my eyes to the possibility of doing events at the brewpub in the future. I loved the food tonight, the service was all very friendly and helpful and we enjoyed the optimism and fun atmosphere in the air despite the challenges mentioned above. Definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a casual lunch or drinks with friends.