Essential guide to Canada’s craft beer scene

A neighbourhood hit list of the best breweries.

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.

British Columbia

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,

33 Acres

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,

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,

Visit Victoria in summer for the Great Canadian Beer Festival, the city’s annual showcase of local beer producers. March marks Victoria Beer Week, a nine-day festival showcasing BC craft breweries in unique event settings.

The Prairies

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,

Situation Brewing

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,

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,

Held in May, the Calgary International Beerfest is Western Canada’s largest beer festival. Mingle with locals and sample some of the more than 500 beers on tap.



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,

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,

Visit the Toronto Festival of Beer for live music, local fare and Canada’s top brews. Held at the beginning of summer, the event usually attracts more than 30,000 people.


Brasserie Dunham

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,

For cheese lovers, the Festibière de Quebec is a non-negotiable. Taking place mid August, this annual beer festival showcases local cheese artisans and music acts.

Atlantic Canada

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,

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,

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,

Visit Atlantic Canada during May for the Atlantic Beer Festival. More than 70 local breweries and headline guests from across Canada come together to celebrate East Coast beer pride.

Main image credit: @33acresbrewing

Presented by Gourmet Traveller and Destination Canada.

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