Thanks to all for the helpful tips and advice. Being downtown without a car, and in lieu of affordable ride sharing apps (no Uber or Lyft in Winnipeg, and Cowboy charges the same prices as cabs), I had to stick to nearby bars. But I kept my eye out for the breweries mentioned in this thread and managed to try a decent amount of local stuff.
atomeyes is right about the city's bar scene - it is well behind Toronto and light years behind most U.S. cities. But there's still some good beer to be had. For example, Surly started distributing kegs to Winnipeg this past winter, so I was able to find Todd The Axe Man (King's Head, Cornerstone) and Xtra-Citra on tap (The Common). Both beers were drinking beautifully.
I also ate quite well on this trip with visits to Peasant Cookery (dinner), SMITH Restaurant (brunch), Super Deluxe Pizza (dinner), and Clementine (breakfast). The latter two came at the recommendation of the bartender at Common and they did not disappoint.
Besides the Surly pints, beer highlights were the Barn Hammer Lousy Beatnik (kellerbier) and Grandpa's Sweater (oatmeal stout), Half Pints Encyclopedia Brown, Oxus Transoxania IPA, and Torque Red Line (hoppy amber). Barn Hammer struck me as one of the better breweries as their DIPA was also pretty good.
The selection at most places left a lot to be desired. Apart from Common, the typical bar had 4 to 8 taps of local craft, of which maybe 2 would be interesting. Tap lineups leaned toward malty red ales, wheat ales, fruit beers, and light/low IBU pales. The only sours I saw were a couple of berliners at Common that didn't interest me. That said, I still managed to find some tasty options and was happy with what I had.
In terms of service, atmosphere, and selection, my favourite spots were Common, Cornerstone, and SMITH. King's Head was fine during the day, but I wouldn’t suggest going there on a Friday night, when it seemingly turns into a loud, divey club. Likewise, Yellow Dog was full of drunks slamming shots when I visited. On the bright side, almost everyone I encountered was in a jovial mood thanks to the Jets' wins over Nashville and Vegas, and there seemed to be a lot of pride for the team throughout the city, which I thought was cool.
For touristy stuff I walked around the Forks, spent a few hours at the Human Rights Museum, and went to Saint Boniface Cathedral, where Louis Riel is buried. Also went and checked out the Defying Convention exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and took a quick walk around the legislature after that. The Museum and Art Gallery are definitely worth visiting. Wanted to hit Half Pints and Little Jug, but time didn’t permit, and again I didn’t have a car.
Hopefully on my next visit I’ll have some time to check out the breweries. Just looking at the number of places that have opened lately, and considering that provincial laws only recently allowed for tap rooms, it’s impressive how quickly Winnipeg’s beer scene is growing. For this brief work trip, though, I had fun exploring the bars and a handful of tourist attractions.
"Bar people do not live as long as vegan joggers. However, they have more fun." - Bruce Elliott