Once upon a time, a 19 year old version of me wrote a post about the best beer in Canada. Looking back, it was a stupid post, and angered beer snobs connoisseurs everywhere, mainly because it was apparent my taste buds hadn’t fully developed, or I hadn’t been fully introduced to the world of microbrews. Pilsner, Kokanee, Molsons, Keiths!? I clearly hadn’t been drinking long enough, and at the time was likely drinking for the effect, and not the taste.
Garbage beers were being spoken about as if they were worth going out of your way to try. I formally apologize for that. The real brewmasters, the ones who understand beer from start to finish, didn’t deserve that at all. I have since stopped drinking swill (well, most of the time), and have upgraded my beer choices to some of the best craft beers in Canada. So let’s see if I can redeem myself and share some of my favourite micro-brews in Canada. Not the garbage I wrote about several years back.
Saskatchewan isn’t often known for incredible beers, which is a shame because there is such a large drinking culture here. Out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Paddock Wood has been crafting delicious beers since 2004. I first tried their 606 at Winstons Pub in downtown Saskatoon. It’s a malty-hoppy refreshing slap in the tongue that makes you crave more, and more, and more. Ever since that first pint of 606, I am constantly keeping an eye out for their beers anytime I’m in the liquor store. Their 606 is likely my favourite, though when you’re feeling like a bit of a kick in the pants to get you going, their “Loki” is a strong and safe alternative. Hands down my favourite beer in all of Saskatchewan, and perhaps all of western Canada.
Half Pints Little Scrapper
Half Pint’s Little Scrapper is another IPA I’m quite fond of, and while their Bulldog Ale is quite nice, it’s the Little Scrapper that stands out. It’s got a nice hoppy kick with some unique grapefruit notes. Certainly a hopheads delight. I was fortunate enough to share my first Little Scrapper at the HI Hostel Winnipeg Downtowner’s attached Vegetarian Restaurant the “Lo Pub & Bistro“. Both the hostel & restaurant unfortunately closed since my visit, but I am eternally grateful to them for introducing me to Little Scrapper (and serving me one of the best bean burgers I’ve ever chowed down on).
Unibroue La Fin Du Monde
While they’ve made the move to being a Macrobrewery (as they can now be found nearly anywhere), they are still the kings of Canadian Belgium styled beers. Strong, sometimes fruity, and very proudly french Canadian, La Fin Du Monde, which translates to “The End of the World”, is one strong mother that needs to find it’s way into your hands someday. It’s a strong 9%. Many call it a Champagne-esque beer with floral, honey, and malt notes. I found myself enjoying several of the 750ml bottles at picnic lunches throughout my travels in “La Belle Province”. Nothing makes you practice your french quite like a bottle of La Fin Du Monde.
Small Quebecois brewery Boréale, named after the Aurora Borealis (aka the northern lights) was a beer I found myself picking up quite often while perusing Quebec last summer. Their Blanche is superb for a summer’s afternoon.
Dieu Du Ciel Péché Mortel
I’m normally a wimp when it comes to the dark stuff. I can sip a Murphy’s or a Guinness, but I rarely have more than one. Not so with Dieu Du Ciel’s Péché Mortel, a dark, fair trade coffee infused stout that will knock your socks off with it’s fine aromas and uniquely smooth taste. As a coffee lover, this one goes down smooth and has quite a punch to it.
Wild Rose Brewery Velvet Fog
Alberta’s Wild Rose Brewery started off as Draft Brewers, which then led to bottling their delicious nectar and sending it out amongst western Canada. I’ve had the pleasure of trying a bottle of their Velvet Fog and I can honestly say it is nothing short of heavenly. Their beer is good, and you should try it. ‘Nuff said.
Vancouver Island Brewery Pipers Pale Ale
Vancouver Island, BC
A classic west coast pale ale that you can count on day in and day out. Like a trusty dog, it’s there when you need it. The folks at Vancouver Island Brewery are churning out some great beer, but their Piper’s Pale Ale is hands down my favourite.
McAuslan Brewery Red Ale
I was first introduced to McAuslan by a friend who would drink nothing but their St Ambroise Apricot Beer, which to be honest. I couldn’t blame him. They’re a tasty fruity beer. I eventually found one of their variety packs and soon found out that it was in fact their Griffons Red Ale that really made me happy dance all over the place.
Granite Brewery Ringwood
Toronto, Ontario / Halifax, NS
Granite Beer is tricky to find, but when you do, there is nothing quite like it. Their Ringwood is a great choice, and for those keen on throwing some random stuff in their beer, I can honestly say ordering a Ringwood & Lime is a nice tweak on an already great beer. I tend to enjoy my Ringwoods on the patio of Henry’s in downtown Halifax.
I rarely enjoy bitters, but there’s something to Propeller Bitter’s that keep me coming back for more. While their IPA is awesome as well, I find the bitter to be my go to beer when I’m in Halifax. If you ever get a chance to do their brewery tour, go! It’s well worth the $15, and you will leave much more happy than when you went in.
Quidi Vidi’s Iceberg Beer
St Johns, Newfoundland
Quidi Vidi’s Iceberg Beer is one of those local craft brews that you’ll feel forced to share on social media, and brag to your friends about. Brewmasters across the world like to say “Water makes the beer“. The folks at Quidi Vidi take that to the next level. They hire a local Iceberg Hunter to catch them the tastiest looking 25,000 year old Iceberg they can find. After harvesting enough ice to create their famous beer, they brew a delicious clear & golden, lightly hopped, very easy to drink brew. Iceberg Beer is easily identifiable due to the bright blue beer bottles. The Quidi Vidi Brewery tour in St. John’s, Newfoundland is one of those tours you can’t miss!
Mill Street Organic
My fiancé would smack me if I didn’t include her favourite Ontario summertime beer. Mill Street, popular for its “Tankhouse Ale”, began branching out and catching beer lovers eyes. Mill Street Organic was the first 100% cerified organic beer in Ontario. It’s a light lager, with a floral aroma, and balanced by a very gentle hoppy bitterness. While it’s not as hoppy as I like my beer, it’s an awesome beer that goes along great with seafood, pasta salad, and warm sunshine.
Great Lakes Brewery Crazy Canuck Pale Ale
The winner of the 2011 Gold and 2012 Silver for the North American Pale Ale at the Canadian Brewing Awards. This very Canadian ale is 5.2%. A west coast style pale ale, that sports a golden copper colour and hits you with a ton of flavour, a wildly hoppy aroma and a nice bitter finish.
Alley Kat Amber
While my go-to beers tend to be punch-you-in-the-face hoppy beers, every once in a while I wander over to the world of sweet ambers, gentle hefeweizens, and dark stouts. The Alley Kat Amber is one of those beers that when I see on a drink menu, instantly earns itself a long & hard consider. The Alley Kat Amber has a malty-sweet taste with a dark caramel aroma. It hits you with subtle notes of chocolate, raisin, and allspine. If you’re into malts, you’ll be all over this fellow.
Old Yale Brewing Company’s Sasquatch Stout
Stouts are foreign to me. I can honestly say I’ve never sat down with a case of stouts and said “It’s Friday and I’m about to end you lot!”. But I will order stouts on occasion at craft beer pubs just as a nice change. The latest Canadian stout I enjoyed was the Sasquatch Sout. It was recently voted the “Best Beer in Canada” for 2014. It’s a smooth beer, with mocha/coffee/barley notes.
Driftwood Brewery’s Fat Tug IPA
Representing the west coast. Fat Tug IPA is a memorable India Pale Ale with an intense hop flavour profile with hints of fruity grapefruit and malt. A true hop-lovers beer. The Fat Tug IPA was winner of the 2011 Canadian Brewing Aawards “Beer of the Year” award, and in my opinion definitely deserves it.
Share your favourite Canadian Craft Beers
The delicious world of craft beers in Canada has grown immensely in the past 10 years. This list of some of my favourites are just scratching the surface. If you have any other recommendations please don’t hesitate to leave in the comments below.