Brewery Visit: Bushwakker Brewpub

So I went to Regina, Saskatchewan, last weekend.

That’s a sentence you don’t often hear from Americans, right? Or even that many Canadians, honestly.

But I was in Regina, and it wasn’t even my first time. I was there to photograph Skate Canada International for I was busy in the arena for all of Friday and Saturday, but Sunday was a light day that ended around 5pm, so I was looking forward to exploring Regina’s craft beer scene. I had done some researched and found a gastropub, a brewery, and a brewpub that I wanted to hit. I checked the map, planned a route, and then I discovered something.

Regina may be the capital of Saskatchewan, but it’s a smallish city—just over 200,000—without much of a downtown scene. And lots of places don’t open on Sunday, including both Rebellion Brewery and Beer Bros., two of the three places on my list.

Fortunately, Bushwakker Brewpub recently added Sunday hours, so I was able to escape the 19-degree windchill and warm up with a beer flight and some pub grub. Bushwakker opened in 1990 as Saskatchewan’s first brewpub—they actually had to get some legislation changed to be allowed to open—and it’s in an industrial part of town, just north of the city centre and the casino. On a Sunday night, that area was really quiet, but I was told that there had been some Halloween partying in the area over the weekend. It’s a fairly large space, with more restaurant-style seating than bar. I chose to sit at the curvy bar, as I usually do when I’m tasting. Overall, it was well-lit and had a 90’s diner feel. Not what I expected from the warehouses outside, but it made more sense once I found out how long it had been open.

They have a set flight of six of their flagship beers, or you can order a sample of all 17 of their beers. I would have done the 17 sampler if I’d been with someone, but I was flying solo, so I went with the six pack.

Last Mountain Lager: A Vienna lager, malty and toasty, with a bit of hops for a subtle bitter finish. 3.5/5

Stubblejumper Pilsner: I wouldn’t have chosen this one, but it was fine, for a pilsener. 3.25/5

Northern Lights Lager: A smooth, easily drinkable lager. Not terribly special, but a good, standard beer that will go with any type of pub food. 3.5/5

Regina Pale Ale: One of their award winners, but it wasn’t my favourite. Too bitter for me, although I did recognize the balance of both hops and malts. 3.25/5

Dungarvon Irish Red Ale: My favourite of the six in this flight. Made with honey malt, ends up with a caramely character. The best-selling Bushwakker beer over the years, although an IPA is currently most popular. 4/5

Palliser Porter: I’m a porter fan, and this was good, but a little too beer-bitter and not enough coffee flavour for me. 3.75/5

I ordered the fish and chips, which were just okay. The breading on the fish was on the doughy side. It was a huge portion, though, and my first proper meal in about 44 hours, so it was just fine. I wouldn’t go to Bushwakker again specifically for the food, but I sure was glad they had food at the time, if that makes sense.

The best part of the experience was the conversation, though. The bartender was chatty and friendly (when he wasn’t busy pouring) and I sat next to a woman who chatted with me about everything from country living to agricultural science to American politics. I’ve found that Canadians are always eager to talk about American politics, in both good times and bad times. Anyway, she was from a small town, but decided to stay overnight in Regina to avoid the heavy snow(!) that was falling on her route home. She’s a regular who always visits Bushwakker when she’s in town, and said I had found the best place.

I also tried the Great Pumpkin Spiced Brown Ale, which was just delightful on a chilly October night. They went very heavy on the pumpkin spice, but since pumpkin beer doesn’t appear to be a thing (yet?) in California, I was super into it. Hello autumn!

Bartender Troy(?) promised he would knock my socks off with a secret, off-menu blend (some of their blends are on the draft list), so I trusted him and ordered the Red Velvet (pictured, right). It’s 75% Dungarvon Irish Red Ale and 25% Sodbuster Brown Ale, and comes out a beautiful deep reddish-brown. It was the perfect way to cap off the night—I actually ordered it at last call. Granted, that’s only at 8:15 on a Sunday, but I can’t tell you the last time I made it to last call without turning into a pumpkin.

It looked like Bushwakker also sold beer to take off-premise, both their own and other labels.

Overall, this is a classic local spot, with a lot of regulars. Definitely visit if you’re ever in Regina, and if possible, visit on the first Friday of a month, when they tap a firkin and also parade around with it, or something. It sounded interesting, to say the least.

Visit Bushwakker:
2206 Dewdney Ave
Regina, SK, Canada
Now open 7 days a week, ages 19+

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