Canada has been honing its own brand of brew since European settlement in the 15th century, but it's only been in the last few years that craft beer has started to flourish. Now, thanks to increased tourism, a new wave of microbreweries and refined beer palates, Canada is producing bolder flavoured beers than ever before.
Below, GT rounds up the best of Canada's craft beer scene.
Vancouver Island Brewing
British Columbia's neighbourhood-centric, small-batch brewery scene has garnered international credibility for its innovative methods. Victoria, BC's capital city on Vancouver Island, was one of the first regions to adopt craft beers, heavily influenced by its high British population. Bordering downtown, the Rock Bay area is home to a small handful of popular brewpubs and small craft breweries, including Vancouver Island Brewing who specialise in 'fun, authentic, shareable brews'. After an update in 2017, the brewery tasting room is one of the most innovative within the region. The pared-back, sustainability-focused space features a premium Gruber growler filler — the only one of its kind in Canada, which allows up to 20 different styles for fill.
2330 Government St, Victoria, vibrewing.com
One of the region's key players, 33 Acres offers easy-drinking, experimental brews. Stop by the modern, all-white tap house and its adjacent brewing lab for a Date Shake Ale or a 33 Acres of Sunshine (unfiltered wheat ale rested on orange peel, star anise and coriander seed). Meet the future of craft brewing in Vancouver.
5 West 8th Ave, Vancouver, 33acresbrewing.com
Parallel 49 Brewing Company
Do as the locals do and pull up a chair at Parallel 49. Make your way to the avocado-green bar and sample from the 15-plus rotating taps. Friendly staff will take you through flights and provide intel on creative brew names such as Jerkface 9000 (a Mosaic-hopped Northwest wheat ale) and Troll Juice (a spicy IPA made with Kveik yeast). Come for lunch or dinner; roll up to the graffiti-plastered food truck (a cleverly masked kitchen portal) and choose between comfort classics including poutine, pork belly and pretzels. This off-the-track pit-stop is well worth the visit.
1950 Triumph Street, Vancouver, parallel49brewing.com
Wild Rose Brewery
Calgary is having a craft beer moment. Check out the Wild Rose taproom, the local gem that has been voted as Calgary's favourite brew pub for seven years running. Wild Rose brews small-batch, natural beers that echo the city's vibrant cultural offerings. Hot tip: Book in a behind-the-scenes tour ahead of time.
4580 Quesnay Wood Dr, Calgary, wildrosebrewery.com
Combining the atmosphere of a pub with the smarts of a microbrewery, this unique beer experience perfectly embodies the region's inclusive beer scene. While its former-bookstore layout lends it a cosy feel, its downtown location, just off buzzing Whyte Avenue, ensures plenty of local thoroughfare. Swing by for house-brewed suds (don't miss the flagship Page Turner IPA) and globally inspired pub grub.
81 Avenue Northwest, Edmonton, situationbeer.com
Malty National Brewing Co
At Malty National, craft beer is considered local culture. Owner Adam Smith and partner Kelsey Beach make six new brews every month, promising an ever-changing line-up of taps. Specialising in small-batch IPA's, stouts and unusual ales, they offer quirky, off-kilter beers (one beer was brewed with hops donated by local residents) that are designed to challenge local palates. Come by for exciting brews and welcoming service.
1130 15th Ave, Regina, www.maltynational.com
Meet the local beer and music nerds at Burdock, the boho-tinged microbrewery in Toronto serving up wine-inspired beers. Lead brewer David Everitt churns out brews made from foraged, local ingredients and Ontario wineries. Head down on Sundays for pours from the "Unlabeled" series of small-batch experiments, then head next door to the bottle shop and pick up a few more varieties to take home. With a music hall and restaurant, there's plenty of reason to stay well-beyond happy hour.
1184 Bloor St W, Toronto, burdockto.com
Nickel Brook Brewing Co.
It doesn't get more Canadian than Nickel Brook's Maple Syrup Porter. Espresso in colour, creamy in texture and smoked mocha on the palate, the beer — made with Canadian maple syrup — is a sweet riff on a timeless classic. A leader in artisanal brewing since 2005, Nickel Brook uses an unexpected mix of local ingredients to craft original, all-natural beers with big flavour. Hang out in the new Funk Lab, a facility dedicated solely to small-batch funk and sour beers, and don't miss a chance to savour Nickel Brook's wine, gin and tequila offerings, too.
864 Drury Ln, Burlington, nickelbrook.com
An hour's drive from Montreal sits Canada's Eastern Townships where you'll find some of the province's best vineyards and breweries. Stop in at Brasserie Dunham where innovative beers (think sour foeder-fermented grisette brewed with plums) run the gamut. Dunham commissions local artists to design bottle labels that match the personality of its wild farmhouse ales, and has amassed a global cult following thanks to its distinctive brews.
3809 Rue Principale, Dunham, brasseriedunham.com
PEI Brewing Company
Prince Edward Island is known for its sea-to-table fare but thanks to its rich red soils and Atlantic coastal climates, it's also home to an expanding crop of wineries and artisan distilleries. Taste award-winning taps at PEI Brewing Company and learn about the makings of brew favourites such as the Sir John A's Honey Wheat Ale on the 45-minute site tour. Sit down in the state-of-the-art taproom where you can savour drops alongside candied bacon-topped potatoes and seafood snacks.
96 Kensington Road, Charlottetown, peibrewingcompany.com
Port Rexton Brewing Co.
Newfoundland's burgeoning craft beer movement is on the cusp of an East Coast boom. For experimental beers, head to Port Rexton Brewing Co. on the island's east coast, the small craft brewery playing a big role in Bonavista peninsula's tourism boom. Since opening in 2016, Alicia MacDonald and wife Sonja Mills have grown their yearly offering of brews from eight to 51. Taste the eight styles on tap and take home a growler of Sweater Weather (a piney IPA made with Canadian 2-Row malt) or the Blue Steel kettle sour.
6 Ship Cove Rd, Port Rexton, portrextonbrewing.com
2 Crows Brewing
Another region growing its experimental beer offering, Nova Scotia has won awards for its technically accurate varieties. Here, wine and beer drinkers can meet with local brewmasters and artisans while on the recently introduced Good Cheer Trail, Canada's first winery, craft brewery and distillery trail. For a beer that will make you think, stop by the small but funky 2 Crows Brewing where Nova Scotia fruits and malt from neighbouring Prince Edward Island are used to create myriad barrel-aged beers. There are 12 taps and a new reveal every Saturday. Their latest: Paradise—a bright foedre-aged sour with raspberry and passionfruit.
1932 Brunswick St, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2crowsbrewing.com
Main image credit: @33acresbrewing
Presented by Gourmet Traveller and Destination Canada.