Simple History: Alberta’s Prohibition

This Canada Day 2016, marks an important date in Albertan Brewing History: it is the 100th anniversary of the start of Prohibition in Alberta.

In 1915 and 1916 the government of the relatively-new province of Alberta held referendums to determine if Alberta should embrace prohibition. The movement to ban the creation and sale of Alcohol was chiefly led by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) who argued that alcohol was the main cause of domestic abuse and the breaking up of families in the early 20th century. The referendums to ban alcohol were passed, and the laws banning the manufacture and sale of alcohol came into effect on July 1st, 1916.

Prohibition would last eight years, finally coming to an end in 1924. Breweries in the province survived the 8 long years of prohibition by creating soft-drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages to be enjoyed. The Lethbridge Brewing Company, owned and operated by Fritz Sick, was one of the breweries to successfully survive the Prohibition period.

Also going on at this time: World War I was going on in Europe, Canada was under conscription, and most of the able-bodied men were off fighting in the war. When they would get back in 1918, alcohol would not be available to them.

Prohibition didn’t stop the production of alcohol in Alberta, it simply made it illegal. While it is true that incidents of domestic abuse dropped over this period, there was a distinct rise in boot-legging, the illegal manufacture/sale of beer and grain alcohols, and illegal drinking/gambling establishments called Speak-Easies started popping up.

Prohibition also gave rise to what is now the AGLC. Many police officers in southern Alberta refused to enforce prohibition, claiming instead it was the jurisdiction of Liquor Agency Inspectors to detect, deter, and stop the illegal manufacture and sale of alcohol.

Lethbridge folks were creative about the liquor they boot-legged. Barrels of vinegar were tapped on suspicion they contained beer only to reveal they did contain vinegar. The tin concealed inside the barrel, which didn’t flow through the tap port, however, contained whiskey. There are even stories of eggs that were drained and filled with spirits.

Another interesting fact: The 1916 prohibition was not the first prohibition in this region. In the 1880s another prohibition took place. Interestingly: three of Lethbridge’s breweries were opened during that prohibition. All we can really say to that is….That’s Lethbridge!

Tours and Tastings Now Available!

Welcome to [Theoretically] Brewing Company!

If you would like to take a look at the brewery and come in for a tasting please contact Kelti at 403-715-5140.

Tours and Tastings now available 2 – 6 Friday and 12-6 Saturday by appointment!

Cost: $10/person includes 30 minute tour and a tasting flight of 4 beers.

Academy of Zymurgy Members get in free!

Attention Festivals, Fund-Raisers, and Community Groups!

Have an on-going fund-raising project, festival, or are you a community group with an Event coming up? Thinking about a beer-garden to attract attendees?

We would love to help with all your beer needs! [Theoretically] Brewing is putting together a portable keg system that will allow us to bring beer to any location! We would be happy to provide beer for your event, cross-promote your event on our social media platforms, and even help you work out the paperwork to get the necessary license.


Community Groups and Fund-Raisers: Need a meeting space? Our tap-room is set up to handle up to 25 people and we would be happy to book you in for a nominal fee for Non-profit organizations and individual use.

For inquiries please contact Kelti at 403-715-5140 or through email theorybrew@gmail.com

For the Community, By the Community

When Kris and Kelti decided it was an opportune time to open a nano-brewery in Lethbridge, Alberta they sat down and had a really important conversation. It was a conversation about business ownership and community, and what those two concepts really mean to them.

Luckily, they discovered that they shared a vision.

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So what is the deal with business ownership and community? Well, it comes down to the desire to fully represent and support your community in everything the business does. So how do we go about achieving this? We partner with community organizations and help sponsor fundraising events. We open up our space to community groups looking for meeting areas, and anyone interested in learning about Craft Beer, the brewing process, and the industry. We grow relationships with companies and individuals advocating sustainable environmental practices, and constantly strive to improve our own business to make a positive impact on the world and environment around us.

What, as a business, do we want to achieve?

We want to support our community. We want to help promote local non-profit organizations focusing their energy on family values, the local economy, and the local environment. We support community initiatives that help make our world a greener place to live. We enjoy making a product that Lethbridge can be proud of. We are constantly looking to grow our local economy. We shop local, we carry local art, we are local; and we are so proud of it!

Lethbridge’s First Craft Brewery is Open!

Hello Lethbridge!

Welcome to [Theoretically] Brewing Company, Lethbridge’s first craft brewery!

We have the distinct honour of being the first producing craft-brewer in Lethbridge, Alberta. That’s so crazy! Lethbridge has this phenomenal history involving brewing. It started back in the late 1800s with Noel’s Brew House, and expanded in 1901 with the foundation of the Lethbridge Brewery (it went through several name iterations before it was sold to Molson in the 1950s). That brewing plant (sadly) closed in 1990 and the city has been without a brewery ever since.

Until now, that is. And lucky us, we get to say we brought brewing back.

Our company is small, with specialty beers that range the spectrum in flavour, colour, and ingredients to produce beer of the highest quality. We brew 500 litres of beer at a time, and can produce several thousand litres per month. And boy do we love brewing! It’s a process that is both challenging and invigorating, and the best part is: we get beer at the end!

Regular Off-Sales Hours will start January 8, 2016 and we will be open for sales:

Thursday – Saturday 2 pm – 6 pm

Stay tuned for important updates coming up in 2016 like the introduction of our bottle-return program and educational events for beer lovers and enthusiasts. Have a fantastic new year and remember: buy local, buy the best because, Lethbridge, you deserve it!

For more information and up-to-date info please follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theoreticallybrewing and on Twitter at @TheoryBrew

Update On Opening!

Hi All!

Well, to give you a quick update on where we are at: the renos to the building are being completed and our good buddies over at Charlton and Hill (Lethbridge, AB), and Ripley Stainless (Summerland, BC) are completing the equipment we have ordered from them.

We have bottles AND grain already in the brewery (we really just need the tanks) and we are finalizing our licensing! Pretty neat huh?

As with all things there have been a few unexpected delays, but we are getting through it. We look forward to (probably) participating in the Galt Beer and Wine Tasting in September, and the SAAG Beer Festival in October. We are super-excited and trying to get you guys some great tasting brews for the tail-end of the hot summer weather.

Cheers for being so patient!