Alberta’s culinary scene is exploding, and with that has come an array of local brewing companies. Since a good beverage is an important part of any travel experience, we spoke with Justin Melnyk, GM of the Jasper Brewing Company…
Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do…
My name is Justin Melnyk and I am a born and raised Jasperite. I went to school for Golf Course Management at Holland College in Prince Edward Island then received my Business Degree from Mount St.Vincent University in Nova Scotia. I am currently the General Manager at the Jasper Brewing Company; which entails everything from overseeing the brewery to the day to day operations of a restaurant.
What is it about Jasper that keeps you here?
Having lived here my whole life (other than my time in school) I’ve created some pretty amazing friendships and I love living close to my family. Then there are the obvious reasons…the mountains and benefits of living in a small town and a National Park.
How does Alberta inspire you?
People are just starting to realize we produce some of the best barley in the world that we literally export to Europe to be used in brewing. In that sense, Alberta still feels like an untapped resource that’s just beginning to blossom. I think with regards to brewing and distilling we are at a very exciting stage of growth. Before, we still had that wild hidden gem thing going on.
How did you end up following this career path?
When I finished school and moved back to Jasper I was working at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course. Myself and my co-workers spent quite a bit of time at Jasper Brewing Co. and one evening one of the owners asked if I was interested in working for them. The rest is history. What’s more, my dad has always worked in the service industry and loves what he does and that has played a big role in how my career has turned out.
Aside from the Jasper Brewing Company, of course, where else can we go to get a taste of Alberta’s culinary scene?
In Jasper we are very fortunate to have a lot of amazing restaurants to choose from. Top three for me are Evil Dave’s Grill, Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria and Jasper Pizza Place. We also have 3 other locations across the province: Banff Ave Brewing Co. in Banff, Wood Buffalo Brewing Co. in Fort McMurray and Last Best Brewing & Distilling in Calgary.
Are there any parts of Alberta that still leave you awe-struck?
This might be surprising; but Jasper still often leaves me awe-struck. Jasper is truly a year-round destination; and each season looks totally different to the next.
If we’ve only got one day in Alberta, what should we do?
Visit the Canadian Rockies; and if you have a few days, drive the Icefields Parkway. The views on the drive are truly amazing.
Is there a beer you think we just have to try?
All of them! It’s so hard to choose just one. I suggest asking for a sampler which is 6 x 6 ounces of all of our signature brews.
Alberta is a place of wonderful contrasts; do you think it’s important to experience both the urban and the rural sides of the province?
Absolutely! I love Jasper and the small town vibes here but it’s really nice to get out to the city once in a while. Both Edmonton and Calgary are about a four hour drive from Jasper and both are completely different from each other. Calgary is a younger city with a really great culinary and craft beer scene, where Edmonton is the province’s capital and has a lot of history. It’s also known as the “Festival City” and there is always something cool going on.
Finally – describe Alberta in just three words…
Young. Adventurous. Strong.
JUSTIN’S TOP 5
CALGARY’S CULINARY SCENE
THE BEAUTY OF JASPER
THE FESTIVALS OF EDMONTON