10 Must Try Beers from Canada

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.

Steam Whistle Pilsner

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.

Alexander Keith’s I.P.AKeithsindiapaleale

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.

Unibroue MauditeUnibroue Maudite

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.

Moosehead LagerMoosehead Lager

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 Pilsnergreat 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 Fogwild 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 AleMill 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 AleOkanogan 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.

Kokanee LagerKokanee Lager

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.

Old Style PilsnerOld Style Pilsner

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!


15 Responses to “10 Must Try Beers from Canada”

  1. Dave and Deb
    August 16, 2009 at 8:15 pm #

    I love this post! We’ve tried 7 of the 10. And I am a fan of them all (that I have tried that is) Really wanting to try the Wild Rose Velvet Fog. OK. I really have to get to Alberta, considering I was born there, I haven’t been back except for a stop on the bus from Prince Albert Saskachewan to Vancouver. Long story…

  2. waffle maker
    October 12, 2009 at 7:03 am #

    Interesting blog, i have bookmarked it for future referrence.

    Greetings from Tim. :)

  3. Beer Brewing Equipment
    April 24, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    I’ve tried the moosehead its good. I really like molson, surprised it was not on the list.

  4. The Beer Wrangler
    December 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    I can assure everyone that the Keith’s IPA does not resemble in the slightest any beer that was sent to India in the 1800′s. I doubt the current recipe is even close to any other real IPA or indeed Alexander Keith’s original recipe!

    • Corbin
      December 9, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

      Your probably right, it’s no micro-brewery anymore and is owned by Molson. But there’s a huge following to Keiths, and is definitely still worth a try. If you’re after a local Halifax IPA give Propeller a try. They do a kickass brew tour (with no limit to how many beers you get to “sample”) and still have a nice IPA taste to it.

  5. Trevor Green
    May 7, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    Just came across this in a google search. With all due respect, you have no idea about beer. Please don’t try to give an opinion on something you have no clue of. Tankhouse and Maudite are the only good beers on the list, the rest are macro lagers with nothing to offer. Also, your claim that US beer is sub par is laughable, American craft brewing is the most cutting edge beer market in the world.

    • Corbin Fraser
      May 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

      I’m sorry you feel that way Trevor. But the point of this blog is to get my opinions,thoughts, & recommendations out in the open. If they’re wrong, or lack the quality you are looking for, perhaps you may want to head on back to Google and refine your search. I’ll be writing a Part 2 to this post at a later date, so feel free to pop in then for another strongly worded comment. Cheers!

      • Trevor Green
        May 10, 2011 at 1:43 am #

        I can respect the fact that this site is your’s for getting your opinions and thoughts across but I think you’re misguiding your readers on the topic.

        I’m glad I came across the post in my google search and while my tone was probably uncalled for I don’t think the message was.

        I look forward to part 2, I’ll keep my eyes open for it. I’ll even give you a suggestion, go back and write a redeeming aspect of each beer on the list.

        Take care,


  6. 'Caygeon Brewsters
    July 15, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    While I personally find most of the beers listed here as rather on the light side, I do enjoy hearing other’s opinions and their reasons why. I tend to favour beer that’s “a little different” and having an alcohol content of around 6% to 8%. (Long ago memories of Brador while I still lived in Montreal.) We all used to tease our American friends (and still do) about how their regular everyday Bud is considered “pee water” here in Canada. Vive la difference. There’s a popular saying, “In the end, the only opinion that matters is our own.” Eagerly awaiting your Part 2, Corbin.

    • Corbin Fraser
      July 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Cageon. I love a mean strong beer every once in a while, but they’re not typically my go-to’s. I’ll see what I can do about including some of them in Part 2. I’ve been doing plenty of “beer research” this summer, so hopefully I’ll have it ready soon. High 5′s headed your way!

  7. Daniel
    July 16, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    Thanks for the recommendations, I will try them for sure. It is a good guide for a beginner in the Canadian beers.

  8. BEEJ
    October 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    There are some really bad beers on that list. @4e878fe72ee59f265298550370f42d58:disqus, agreed about the Maudite. Tankhouse is reasonably good, but I certainly wouldn’t put it in my top 10. If you want great Canadian beers here’s what you should keep an eye out for:

    1) Dieu du Ciel – Aphrodite (or anything really – it’s an amazing brew pub in Montreal that I highly recommend visiting)
    2) MacAuslan St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout – another fantastic Montreal Brewery with some outstanding beers
    3) Unibroue Don de Dieu – same brewery that makes Maudite. Unibroue know their shit. 
    4) Muskoka Mad Tom IPA – Disclaimer – this beer is an actual IPA (see: Alexander Keith’s for an example of what’s not an IPA)
    5) Beau’s Lug Tread Lager – If you’re in or around Ottawa, Beau’s is definitely something you want to try. The brewery is in Vankleek hill and is pretty outstanding.
    6) Wellington Iron Duke – really tasty dark ale. Great with spicy food.
    7) La Diable Microbrew Pub Extrême Onction – This trappist style ale is a beauty way to end a day of skiing, Good food and other beers too.
    8) Hop City Barking Squirrel Lager – not the greatest beer there is, but always satisfying with a greasy meal (sub for all the mass produced domestic lagers)
    9) Upper Canada Dark – cheap and tasty
    10) Mill Street Coffee Porter – a really unique tasting beer. My favourite of the mill streets since they got rid of the royal oak anniversary ale. Great way to ‘hair-of-the-dog”.

    • Corbin Fraser
      October 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

      Sounds to me like I’ve got some more beers to try. I’ve literally only had 1/10th of the beers you listed. Off to the liquor store!

  9. Hobbsao
    October 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    i love the hoppiness and aromatics of “606″ a beer made in Saskatoon Saskatchewan by Paddockwood Microbrewery. they also have a number of other great beers. not bad for the center of Canada, the prairies…..Cheers!!!!!

  10. Gene
    November 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Kokanee = Sasquatch piss.

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