From the big boys to the microbrews, here are 24 Canadian beers you need to drink now.
The season for tipping back pints on the patio is almost over. But buck up: You’re a Canadian, for god’s sake, and we’ve assembled two dozen made-in-Canada brews to ease the transition into autumn. From an old-timer classic to out-hipster your PBR-drinking buddy, to a Belgian Tripel to drink with Thanksgiving turkey, to the best cheap beer ever, here’s a case worth of beers you have to try right now.
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The maple syrup in this creamy, malty brew is so prominent you could pour the stuff on your pancakes. Fry up a side of bacon to cut the sweetness and it’s the ultimate breakfast beer.
$5.80/650 ml bottle. LCBO.
Two-time Beer of the Year winner at the Canadian Brewing Awards, this double India pale ale is on steroids, with more hops, more malt and more booze. It packs intensely bitter flavours of pine and grapefruit. For hop-heads only.
$4.25/500 ml bottle. LCBO.
This smooth-drinking ale is the perfect transitional beer. It’ll take you from summer’s light lagers and wheats to fall’s hearty ales, stouts and porters. And it’s a bargain.
$3.25/680 ml bottle. LCBO.
The granddaddy of B.C. craft breweries, Tree’s motto, “Drink real ale ’cause bud is just for smoking,” rings true in this beer—it’s a full-on hop attack, and that bitterness totally zaps the tastebuds. Still, aficionados rate it one of the best Canadian IPAs around. To tone down the bitterness, crack a bottle with spicy foods.
$13.50/six pack. LCBO.
Holy crap, this porter is good. Chocolate, espresso and black licorice flavours hit the tongue on the first sip, along with a sherry-like warmth. Pop the cork (that’s right, cork) and share with friends to cut the autumn chill. If you want to be fancy (and you probably do since you’re drinking this distinguished beer), you can age it for up to five years to mellow the flavour.
$9.95/750 ml bottle. LCBO.
This three-time gold medallist at the World Beer Awards finally made an appearance at the LCBO this spring. If you haven’t tried Propeller’s spectacularly smooth and smokey English bitter, do it. Now.
$13.50/six pack. LCBO.
Wine has nothing on this complex Belgian Tripel from celebrated Quebec microbrewery Charlevoix. The style, pioneered by Trappist monks in Belgium’s Westmalle Abbey, is a super-strong pale ale that continues to ferment after being bottled, making for a boatload of flavour. It has a sugary crust, a puckering, almost sour middle and a dry finish. Try it with Thanksgiving turkey.
$5.95/500 ml bottle. LCBO.
Aged for 120 days in Jack Daniel’s barrels, the first batch of this award-winning, heavy-duty ale sold out in a week. So Cameron’s quintupled the recipe to yield 800 bottles. Call the brewery to preorder—it should be ready by early October.
$12.95/750 ml bottle. Only at the brewery, 1165 Invicta Dr., Oakville, 905-849-8282.
Beau’s took a chance with this challenging style—a dark, cloudy Bavarian wheat beer—and it paid off. It’s barely carbonated and tastes of clove, banana and a hint of chocolate. Have it for dessert with vanilla ice cream.
$7.85/600 ml bottle. LCBO.
Millennium Buzz is the best cheap beer ever. This hemp-based red lager is brewed at Cool Beer’s stunning brewery by the able hand of brewmaster Mike Duggan (of Duggan’s Brewery fame). The hemp is undetectable—who wants to drink weed anyway? Oh, wait.
$33/24. LCBO, The Beer Store.
Take a big whiff and you get one thing: barbecue. That’s pretty much what it tastes of, too, so if you don’t like smokey flavours in your beer, steer clear. The malts were smoked with whiskey and peat before brewing, for deep flavour. Drink by campfire or at Wvrst, the King West beer hall, with spicy sausage.
$13.75/six pack. Bottles only at the brewery, 1678 County Rd. 38, Campbellford, 877-314-2337.
It’s also on tap at Wvrst, 609 King St. W., 416-703-7775.
Grab a friend and head to Bar Volo to split this hefty bottle of what may just be the best (and certainly the punchiest) pumpkin ale in the country by up-and-coming microbrewery Howe Sound.
Price TBD. Coming soon to Bar Volo, 587 Yonge St., 416-928-0008.
Next page: 12 more beers to complete your ultimate two-four