Tuck into crab doughnuts, beer-brined roast chicken, beer short ribs and a million dollar onion.
By Debra Smith | June 14, 2021
Three Bears bills itself as simply “a brewery in a forest,” the newest addition to the Banff Hospitality Collective’s (BHC) roster of unique mountain venues. And to prove the point, there’s a two-storey living pine tree that reaches from the main floor, up through the second level, to tickle the retractable skylight. Preserved hop vines cascade down the staircase, small pines pop up in planters, and hanging plants hang out everywhere. The greenscaping is a pleasant counterpoint to burnt timber walls, whitewashed floors and forest murals.
On the main floor, a socially distanced crowd buzzes around the tall silver tanks of the open-concept brewery and gathers along the bar. The Three Bears brewmaster is sticking to the classics, sort of, with six kinds of classic beer, plus an infusion program. “We started with a holiday infusion of spruce or maple bacon,” says Jessica Pacheco, director of sales and marketing for BHC. “In addition to botanical, herbal or flavour infusions, we’re also going to be experimenting with tea-infused beer, like a juniper berry IPA with tea syrup added to it.”
Award-winning culinary director Justin Leboe brings his inventive touch to the menu, following his outstanding successes at Pigeonhole and Model Milk in Calgary. He’s introduced a 72-hour reverse-ice-water-fermented pizza dough and edamame-laden toast made from spent grains from the brewery. With a touch of whimsy and a fairy-tale take on bringing the outside in, Three Bears is in the Goldilocks zone—and it’s just right.