It’s a known fact that when it comes to North American Beer, the best stuff comes from North of the Border. Not only is it better made, better tasting, it also has more kick than the beer you’ll find our good friends from the US of A drinking. Not to mention it stays cold longer, what with the weather and all. Every province and territory in Canada has it’s own beer that locals love to call their own. Don’t be afraid of Canadian Beer, embrace it. Backpacking across Canada is tough work, do yourself a favour and stop along the way, reward yourself with some of the best beers from Canada.
Note: I’ve created an updated post about Canadian Beer that covers this topic much better than this old post. There are several beers in the list below that are there due to popularity amongst the general population of Canada. If you’re after quality craft Canadian brews, stop reading now and go check my updated post out.
Steam Whistle Pilsner
Toronto, ON – 5.0% – Brewed next to the CN tower at the infamous and historic St. John’s Street Roundhouse. Steam Whistle Pilsner is a golden beer with a refreshing and distinctive aroma of hops, with a clean, crisp finish. After taking a good swig of this beer you’ll understand why their motto is “Make one kind of beer and make it the best in the world.” Use their online locator to find the nearest Steam Whistle Pilsner closest to you.
Halifax, NS – 5.0% – Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale was first created in 1820 for British Troops serving in India. This beer is brewed only in Halifax where prying eyes can’t find their original top secret recipe. A unique clean and crisp taste with a hop flavour and floral notes. This beer is extremely popular on the East coast of Canada, and is beginning to become more popular in the west as well. This beer is getting easier to find in just about any Liquor Store.
Chambly, Quebec – 8.0% – Maudite has a true Quebecois name that comes from the legend of the Chasse-Galerie, otherwise known as the legend of the Flying Canoe. The story goes that a group of lumberjacks made a deal with the devil to fly home in their old wooden canoes to make it home in time for Christmas. Maudite was born in November 1992, and was the first strong beer to be sold throughout Quebec grocery stores. It also just so happens to be the first beer brewed in North America that improves with age. Drink a young Maudite and you’ll find it very smooth, however when served after a few years of storage, its flavour begins to take on that of a port. A rich tasting, mahogany-coloured premium beer with a distinct and beautifully complex taste. Unibroue recommends serving it cool, but not cold. Easily one of my favourite beers.
St. John, NB – 5.0% – A delicious Canadian lager that’s bound with both sweet malt and hop essence. Moosehead goes down extremely easy, if you’re a little vanilla with your beer tastes, I’d definitely recommend this one. It’s pretty rare that anyone doesn’t enjoy a few of these on a warm summers evening. Distribution of this beer has been expanding quite a bit in the last few years, it’s quite easy to find these at any Liquor Store.
Great Western Pilsner
Saskatoon, SK – 5.0% – An award winning beer sure to please any fan of a good pilsner. Great Western Pilsner is a highly carbonated beer with an extreme crisp finish and sweet malt notes. A local favourite in Saskatchewan. If you’re driving through SK you’re sure to find a 2-4 of Great Western Pilsner at every liquor store.
Wild Rose Velvet Fog
Calgary, Alberta – 4.5% – Don’t let the American percentage in this beer fool you. This beer was a gold medal winner at the 2008 Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria. A rich North American style wheat beer, sporting 50% wheat malt, and 50% barley malt, which gives this unfiltered brew a hazy, golden colour with a tangy fresh character. A little harder to come by than your Moosehead or Keiths, but definitely worth the purchase if you find some.
Mill Street Tankhouse Ale
Toronto, ON – 5.2% – An angry looking deep copper-red American style pale ale from the 2007 and 2008 Canadian brewery of the year. Brewed with 5 different malts and Cascade Hops. Mill Street Tankhouse Ale is complex, malty texture beer with subtle chocolate, coffee, citris and honey finishes. Let this beer sit on your palate a a minute and try and pick out the flavours. Mill Street Tankhouse Ale is a very unique Canadian beer.
Okanagan Spring Pale Ale
Vernon, BC – 5.0% – Brewed using 2 row Saskatchewan barly. A clear and copper ale that is fruity on the palate, and finishes off dry with hearty hops. Also a toughy to find in your everyday Liquor Store, so if your in the Okanagan Valley, or anywhere in South East BC, you should be able to find it.
Creston, BC – 5.0% – A light, flavourful beer. Typically Canadian Youths “Entry Level” beer. Despite it’s popularity with youth, the beer itself is worthy of consumption from people of any age. This beer is easily found in Canada, primarily in Western Provinces and the Pacific Northwest of America. Kokanee is British Columbia’s best selling beer. The beer comes from pure mountain stream water, and is aged naturally. It uses several types of malt and a blend of western grown North American hops. Pick up a can or bottle of Kokanee and see if you can spot the Miniature Sasquatch hidden on the mountain.
Vancouver, BC & Edmonton, AB – 5.0% – I am obligated to include this beer on the list, as this is Saskatchewans most popular selling beer, and being a native of SK, if I didn’t include it, travelling throughout my own province would become unsafe for me. Despite my obligation, the beer rightfully deserves its place in the list. Old Style Pilsner has been brewed since 1926, and has a strange cult following throughout Canada. I’ve heard of people traveling with cases of Pil and trading it along the way for more beer than they began with. Another “Entry-Level” beer for Western Canadian Youths. Known across the country as “Pil”, “Saskatchewan Champagne”, “Sner”, “Vitimin P” and “Pilly Pop”. Old Style Pilsner is famous for crossing the lines of age, wealth, and taste. The beer appeared in the cult movie Fubar, and has appeared several times on CTV’s Corner Gas. As soon as you cross the border to Saskatchewan be prepared for the Green & Yellow cans and bottles to be found in almost every drinkers hands. A great tasting beer, perfect for a hot summer day on one of Saskatchewans 100, 000 lakes.
There are hundreds of beers from Canada, dozens of which compete at a world level. I may be missing some that others may feel are the “best”. However, I have taken it upon me to get belligerent off of each and every one of these beers at several times and would like to think I have a good idea. If you disagree with this list, or feel I’m missing any, please comment. However, my liver rarely lies. Bottoms up!
Note: Want more information on Canadian Craft Beers? Please check my updated post out which covers some awesome Canadian beer as of 2014.