The number of craft breweries that have opened in this city over the past few years must tax the creative minds of owners to come up with a suitable name for their new company, never mind the dozens of labels that have to be decided upon.
Not so for Mike MacLeod and Cael Tucker, co-founders of Tailgunner Brewing Company that officially opened its doors this week.
The name was inspired by the remarkable and heroic story of Lint Stephenson, grandfather of MacLeod, tail gunner and lone survivor of a Lancaster bomber that was shot down over Holland in 1943. Critically injured, he was captured by the Germans and imprisoned for two and half years, enduring starvation and unimaginable trauma.
Stephenson was able to return home in 1945 and despite the consequences of a war that never stopped haunting him, he never gave up supporting his family. He passed away in 2015.
His memory lives on in Tailgunner Brewing, which Tucker says “is for anyone who longs for a sense of community, belonging and tradition.”
Tucker and Macleod have been friends since childhood and as adults became partners in Stonebridge Crafted Homes, which is still flourishing, and have since created Crowvan to work on commercial construction. Concerned with some of the problems of that industry — at a time when a large development went bankrupt and they have yet to receive any payment for their work — the two men say they were having a contemplative beer together and hit upon the idea of diversifying into the beer business. “Why not!” they said and within a few days, Tucker had written a business plan.
They bought an 8,500 square foot building on 10th Avenue S.W., just to the west of 14th Street, purchased and installed a large capacity brew system and were fortunate to be able to hire Blake Enemark as head brewer.
Enemark was trained in Toronto and after moving to Calgary he was head brewer at OT Brewing, which earned the Best Pilsner in Alberta award. In 2020, Enemark was invited to address the Central European Brewer’s Conference in Budapest.
He and his brew staff have been making beer at Tailgunner Brewing over the past year; it has been gradually selling in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Quality and consistency are assured with the use of reverse osmosis water — beer is 90 per cent water, so no variant is present in Tailgunner’s craft beer. And, of course, the brewery uses 100 per cent Alberta grains.
Names on labels also honour MacLeod’s grandfather, such as the Lint Stephenson Czech Pilsner, and members of the Lancaster’s flight crew, as well as raising a glass to the women who kept the economy going back home during the 1940s, such as the Dorthey Hazy Pale Ale.
Tailgunner is a modern-day representation of the class and character of the 1940s, with a mission to remember, uphold and maintain the standards of community, quality of character and moral values of that time, while creating a cool, authentic and community-centric atmosphere.
MacLeod says the beer hall will have no large TV screens (although they might be brought in for Flames games, as he and Tucker are both avid fans); rather, Tailgunner will be a place where the Sunalta community can gather to enjoy conversation.
The partners will run the restaurant space that will allow for more than 100 guests, plus a south-facing patio for another 40 lovers of tasty craft beer and good wholesome food, presented with the assistance of Ryan Turbide and Vincent Wong of Diner Deluxe.
The location should serve the brewery well, as the west end is becoming alive with more residents. Next door and across 14th Street, two new towers are under construction that will offer a nice stroll to Tailgunner Brewery for good beer and neighbourhood relations.
Coast Hotels — owned by Tokyo-based AP Hotels, which has a network of more than 629 properties in Japan — has entered into an agreement to purchase Regency Suites Hotel on 4th Avenue S.W. To be rebranded Coast Calgary Downtown Hotel & Suites, it will welcome guests under the new flag on April 12.
The downtown property at the corner of 6th Street S.W. boasts 120 well-appointed suites with spacious floor plans and fully equipped kitchens.
David Parker’s columns appear regularly in the Herald. You can read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business; he can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at email@example.com.