Canadian Beer Brewing - dummies

By Marty Nachel, Steve Ettlinger

Canada’s brewing roots are just about as old and well established as those in the United States. Actually, much of Canada’s history is intertwined with American history because the Great White North was discovered, pioneered, and settled by many of the same people at the same time. It stands to reason that Canadian brewing history follows a similar timeline as well.

Englishman John Molson was the first to set up a brewery in Canada in 1786, ironically, in the wine-drinking, French-dominated province of Quebec. Irishman Eugene O’Keefe followed him in 1862 and later merged his company with Thomas Carling’s brewery. John LaBatt made his name by acquiring the brewery that was sold to his father in 1866. All these iconic names are revered by Canadian beer drinkers. (What was that Moosehead guy’s first name, eh?)

Virtually unknown to Americans who’ve been fed a steady and limited diet of Canadian Golden Lagers and Pale Ales, the popular maple leaf megabrewers, such as Molson, O’Keefe, Carling, and Labatt, produce a fairly wide variety of brand names and beer styles that Canadians keep to themselves.

Anyway, mirroring the craft beer movement in the United States, Canadian craft brewers have been producing the same high-quality brews in the same wide variety of styles. Some prominent packaged brands to look for while north of the border include the following:

  • Amsterdam, Toronto, Ontario

  • Brasserie McAuslan (St. Ambroise), Montreal, Quebec

  • Brick Brewery, Waterloo, Ontario

  • Granite Brewery, Halifax, Nova Scotia

  • Granville Island Brewing, Vancouver, British Columbia

  • Okanagan Spring, Vernon, British Columbia

  • Sleeman Brewing & Malting, Guelph, Ontario

  • Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec

Canada’s larger cities are also home to many excellent brewpubs, renowned for their great beer. Among them are

  • C’est What? Toronto, Ontario

  • Dieu du Ceil, Montreal, Quebec

  • Hart & Thistle, Halifax, Nova Scotia

  • Bushwakker, Regina, Saskatchewan

  • Spinnakers, Victoria, British Columbia

  • Yaletown Brewery, Vancouver, British Columbia

  • Whistler Brewhouse, Whistler, British Columbia

  • The Grizzly Paw, Canmore, Alberta