Canadian Beer Eh?
All across the great, white north brewpubs and microbreweries are emerging, using local and regional products to create excellent beers. Take a road trip with us.
By Shira Kogut on Jul. 11, 2016
Beer is a HUGE part of Canadian culture and all Canadians know the best Canadian pairing is beer and hockey! There is even a famous joke involving beer and how Canada got its name: The Founders couldn’t agree on a name, so they left Parliament and continued the session in the lower key atmosphere of a bar. After a couple of beers they decided the best way would be to pull letters out of a hat and between each letter everyone cheered. C eh! N eh! D eh! I think, I seriously learned that joke in Canadian History class.
Beer has been brewed in Canada since the 17th Century except for the brief interlude of Prohibition (mid-1920s, except for poor PEI whose Prohibition lasted from 1901-1948). Beer remains the #1 beverage in Canada by dollar value and volume. Must’ve been hard for Canadian John Candy to insult our beer in this fantastic scene from the 1995 movie “Canadian Bacon”, a must watch for all Canadians.
While many breweries began in Canada: Sleeman, Molson, and Labatt, the only one who is still wholly Canadian owned is Moosehead. There are also some excellent brewpubs and microbreweries that are popping up all across the country. I love craft breweries and I especially love their community-minded philosophies which shine through in the social and charitable programs they have, the jobs they provide and their commitments to buying locally sourced products. Let’s take a trip from East to West and check out some of the craft beers that Canadians love best!
Yellowbelly Brewery and Public House serving 20 beers including seasonals and year-rounds this beautiful piece of St.John’s heritage has also been featured on the Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here.” Great food + great beer = great combo.
Garrison Brewing Company is one of the organizers of the Halifax Oktoberfest. They have 7 year-rounds and a huge variety of seasonal, gluten-free, specialty and collaborative beers. This brewery is tops in Nova Scotia.
The Prince Edward Island Brewing Co. is a partnership between founder and owner of the successful Gahan House Pub & Brewery, Kevin Murphy, and local entrepreneur Jeff Squires. PEI is small, but there is definitely enough room for more great beers. PEI Brewing Co. is definitely a hopping place with brewery tours, concerts and a Canada Day Keg Party. Now there is another great place to visit on your next trip to PEI besides Avonlea Village.
Pump House Brewery has 7 year-rounds and 11 seasonal brews. This little brewery got its start when owner, retired firefighter Shaun Fraser, wanted to learn to make beer. He was turned away from many of the big breweries, but he didn’t give up. He was granted a shot to make beer at the Labatt Brewery in Ontario with the show “Thrill of a Lifetime.” Boy are we glad he didn’t give up!
So good they had to open two branches, Dieu du Ciel has been in the Quebec brewing scene since 1998. They have 7 year-round beers, one seasonal beer for each month, 6 beers on rotation, and 15 special edition beers, you are bound to find something you love and thank God in the heavens for it.
Black Oak has 3 year-rounds and 10 seasonal/experimental beers. They offer excellent tours of the brewery and they have killer parties. Their beers have received many awards and are rated highly on beer sites.
Half Pints has 4 year-rounds and 8 seasonals including a special seasonal beer called Queer Beer. “It is the specialty brew brainchild of Half Pints Brewery and Pride Winnipeg, made exclusively for the Pride Winnipeg Festival.”
Great Western Brewing Co. was started by 16 former O’Keefe employees who were about to lose their jobs. Now with 11 different beers under 3 different brand lines it has become one of the biggest employers in Saskatoon.
Wild Rose Brewery started in Calgary and stays in Alberta. Sorry rest of the world, but that just means you’ll have to come to Calgary, one of the fastest growing craft beer cities, to try their delicious beer line up. With 7 year-rounds and 8 seasonal/specialty beers, it is way worth the trip plus there are two specialty beers that can only be found in the Wild Rose Taproom. We also love their Charity Pint Program that gives back to the community around them.
Opening in 1997, Yukon Brewing was the 1st craft beer company in the Yukon Territory. They are doing an AMAZING job. With a line-up of 9 excellent beers, including a really great stout called Midnight Sun and their multi-award winning Lead Dog Ale they have made a name for themselves both in the Yukon and across Western Canada.
North West Territories
NWT Brewing and their Brewpub The Woodyard Brewhouse & Eatery are the only places that offer fresh made craft beers to Canadians in the real north. Currently, they only produce four beers, but their Kicksled Cream Ale is already racking up awards. Now there is something to keep you warm on the coldest of cold winter nights.
This most recent, largest, northernmost, and least populous territory of Canada was officially separated from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999. It took 17 years, but they are slated to have their first microbrewery open in 2017, the Nunavut Brewing Co. We look forward to tasting their beers and wish them lots of luck in the Craft Beer Scene.
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