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Top Ten Canadian Beers

|Nov 9|magazine16 min read

 

Earlier this year, Statistics Canada determined that in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010, Canadians spent $9.2 billion on beer—a figure that’s up 3.8 per cent from the previous year. Per capita, that amounts to about 83.6 litres per person.

While beer has been Canada’s alcoholic drink of choice for decades, a growing number of Canadians are passing on local brews and purchasing imported beers, largely from the United States and Mexico. In 2010, imported beer sales increased 7.8 per cent, capturing 14 per cent of the total market.

Sure, there is great beer to be found across the globe, but we don’t want to see Canada’s excellent selection get neglected in favor of what’s beyond the border.

We’ve compiled a list of some of Canada’s best (and trust us—it wasn’t easy to pare it down to just ten).

10. Propeller London Style Porter

Brewed by: Propeller Brewing Company

Brewed in: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.0%

Propeller has only been in business for 14 years, but it’s made quite an impact on the Canadian beer scene in that time. London Style Porter is a champion—it has won the gold medal in Chicago’s World Beer Championships and the Canadian Brewing Awards. Its roasty, smoky malt flavour is strong, yet smooth and features a blend of softened water and pale, roasted and chocolate malts.

9. Denison’s Weissbier

Brewed by: Denison’s Brewing Company

Brewed in: Toronto, Ontario

ABV: 5.6%

Denison’s has been brewing this authentic Bavarian-style wheat beer for over 20 years. Its ingredients (malted barley, malted wheat, imported hops, water and yeast) are fairly simple, but Bavarian yeast yields a unique, yet classy taste featuring notes of banana, clove and vanilla. In May 2011, Denison’s Weissbier took the Gold in the German Style Wheat Beer category at the Ontario Brewing Awards.

8. Beau's Lug-Tread Lagered Ale

Brewed by: Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company

Brewed in: Vankleek Hill, Ontario

ABV: 5.2%

Lug-Tread Lagered Ale is made naturally with organic malts and hops, resulting in a golden, well-balanced tribute to classic German beers. Beau’s top ferments this fine ale, and then cold ages it for a crisp, lingering finish. Beer Judge Certification Program Grand Master Beer Judge Kevin Pratt summed up the allure of Lug-Tread Lagered Ale nicely: “Graham cracker pilsner malt wraps around hops. Mown alfalfa and slightly sweet breeze from a pear orchard with a satisfying fruity aftertaste.”

7. St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale

Brewed by: Brasserie McAuslan

Brewed in: Montreal, Quebec

ABV: 5.0%

This seasonal ale is so satisfying that we wish it was available year-round. (Although it really is the perfect companion to a lazy Autumn afternoon). This is the time of year when just about everything is bedazzled with pumpkin spice, but the results are not always as harmonious as St-Ambroise’s blend of pale and caramel malt, hops and spices with a deliciously dry finish.

6. Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale

Brewed by: Alexander Keith’s Brewery

Brewed in: Halifax, Nova Scotia

ABV: 5%

Alright, so maybe Alexander Keith’s IPA doesn’t quite fit the bill for the standard IPA (its ABV is a bit low, as are its hops and body), but Keith’s started brewing and marketing its signature ale well before IPAs got big and sort of pushed the India Pale Ale name into the market. While India Pale Ale is a bit of a misnomer in this instance, Keith’s IPA is Nova Scotia’s most popular beer, the top specialty beer in Canada and its light, floral, sweet flavour is charming.

5. Maudite

Brewed by: Unibroue

Brewed in: Chambly, Quebec

ABV: 8.0%

Unibroue was the first brewery to distribute a strong beer in Quebec when Maudite hit grocery stores in November 1992. This rich, distinct beer’s name translates to “damned” and is reminiscent of the legend of “Chasse-Galerie,” which tells the tale of a group of lumberjacks selling their souls to the devil. Maudite’s ABV does seem to be sinfully strong, but it’s a beautiful, complex beer with spicy, chocolaty and fruity notes and a velvety mouthfeel.

4. Péché Mortel

Brewed by: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel

Brewed in: Montreal, Quebec

ABV: 9.5%

Speaking of mortal sins, let’s give a toast to Péché Mortel. Translated from French, this coffee stout’s name literally means “mortal sin.” With a whopping 9.5 per cent ABV and an infusion of fair trade coffee, Péché Mortel is both intense and incredibly drinkable. Péché Mortel smells just as wonderful as it tastes—it offers a medley of sweet chocolate, cherries and (obviously) coffee.

3. Red Racer IPA

Brewed by: Central City Brewing Company

Brewed in: Surrey, British Columbia

ABV: 6.5%

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chose Central City Brewing Company as the Best Local BrewPub at the 2011 CAMRA Awards. Central City’s Red Racer IPA (which has won a slew of its own individual awards) stands up to its creator’s accolades. It’s super hoppy, with a deep aroma infused with citrus and apricot and a divine, perfectly carbonated mouthfeel.

2. La Fin du Monde

Brewed by: Unibroue

Brewed in: Chambly, Quebec

ABV: 9.0%

We’re nearing the end of our list and celebrating La Fin du Monde, French for “the end of the world.” La Fin du Monde has won more awards than any other Canadian beer, but that’s not the only reason it made the cut. As just one player on Unibroue’s incredible roster, La Fin du Monde is the champagne of beers (no matter what Miller High Life tries to tell you). This complex golden ale is mildly yeasty, with a subtle carbonation and spicy coriander and orange peel flavor.

1. Molson Canadian

Brewed by: Molson

Brewed in: Montreal, Quebec

ABV: 5.0%

As you look over this list, you’ll find that it’s composed of mostly craft beers, but we would like to take a moment to give proper dues to a Canadian classic with a huge distribution. The Molson brewery has been around since 1786 and is the oldest brewery in North America. Founder John Molson was responsible for a variety of Canadian developments, including the country’s first railway, but he didn’t live to see the introduction of Molson Canadian in 1959. Over the past four decades, Molson Canadian has won several brewing awards while making an indelible mark on Canadian culture. In fact, Molson Canadian began using the red leaf on its label before it even appeared on the Canadian flag. According to its slogan, Molson Canadian is a beer that’s as “clean, crisp and fresh as the country it comes from.” It’s tough to argue with that point.

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