Certainly much more than a simple pub, Rain Dog Bar in Calgary's Inglewood neighbourhood vibes like a cocktail bar, but specializes in beer.
Its owner, Bill Bonar, is Alberta’s first cicerone–which is like a sommelier for beer–and as such, he’s curated a selection of very unique craft beers and ciders. His myriad of libations are complemented by a menu of creative European-inspired dishes created by chef Chris Lorenz.
The name is partially a nod to the 1985 Tom Waits album, but for Bonar, Rain Dog is also doctrine for welcoming wanderers in from the cold.
“A rain dog is a dog that wandered away from home, and then has its scent washed off of everything by the rain, so it can't find it's way back. A lost dog. Rain Dog Bar is a spot for those lost dogs to gather, and to take respite, before heading back out on their journey,” he says.
The quirky atmosphere within the second level bar (above Gorilla Whale) feels almost accidental, but the décor, music, and menu choices are intentionally eclectic. It's almost as though past visitors have left behind bits and pieces of themselves along the way.
“It’s like someone had once been there and left behind a lamp they were tired of carrying, or a recipe for a dish they'd loved in Hungary, or a beer they'd found in Belgium...or a song we needed to hear.”
Rain Dog Bar is currently closed for dine-in due to COVID-19 restrictions, but you can try their Rain Dog Bar Pandemic Picnic Packages which are designed with beer pairings in mind, of course. The picnic packages are available for takeout from 2-8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays.