Craft Beers across Canada travel itinerary

Please enjoy this guest-authored travel plan: I love micro-brewed beers & craft beers with intense full flavour and I’ve had the luxury of sampling them in almost all the provinces across Canada via my music touring. Canuck brewing has come a long long way in the last 10 or so years. I first developed my love of beer when in university in Belfast, Northern Ireland when I realized they all didn’t need to be kind of watered down bland-tasting pale brews catering to the broadest spectrum of palates possible. My hunch at the time (survey of one 1!) was that British and Irish people liked more flavour in their beer than North Americans but I’ve seen as the Canadian offerings have become more and more interesting that the uptake amongst my friends has been pretty significant. I think we were settling for mediocre mass produced brews because that’s what we could buy. But now, we’ve seen that locally made craft beers can be gutsy and bold and there are so many now that with some digging you can find a favorite. They can be extremely hoppy, or really bitter. They can even incorporate local fruit flavours or coffees if they want, and they know they aren’t there to please everyone – which is just fine by me and those who love them. They own their niche, and they own it well.

I’ve been able to pick a favorite or 2 in many of the provinces in Canada that I’ve toured to with my performing and I thought I’d share a few of them here. If you come across them you might want to give them a try. (Caveat: for all I know, some of these have been discontinued since I tried them! If so, try some other brews by these breweries – they’re all doing good things.) Happy Tasting! NOTE: I make no claim to be an expert. Rather, I’m merely sharing some beers that I enjoyed, and hope you do too.

If you were taking a Trans-Canada drive here is a bit of a beer itinerary I’d recommend, starting at the West coast and working your way East.

Monday: British Columbia: Granville Island Brewery (Vancouver) – Robson St Hefeweizen

Start your trip off with this fresh unfiltered wheat ale. It has some fruit overtones to it – and it’s often served with a wedge of lemon or orange: a nice start to your trip. You’ll be driving past the Okanagan Valley with all of its fruity goodness en route to Alberta so this seems a good fit.

Wednesday: Alberta: Wild Rose Brewery (Calgary) – Alberta Crude Oatmeal Stout

As you pull into oil-country after you’ve doddled through the beautiful Rocky Mountains, I’ll point out that you can only get this aptly named wonderful stout on tap. It’s not actually bottled! So go try it in the brewery’s taproom in Calgary as a treat. It’s got a nice complex taste and if you like Guinness this certainly gives it a run for its money.

Thursday: Saskatchewan: Bushwakker Brewpub (Regina) – Palliser Porter

Staying on highway #1, your next big urban centre (population 220,000!) is the queen city of Regina Saskatchewan. You’ve just driven through some insanely flat prairie turf and you’re a bit bored so you need a pick me up. I discovered Bushwakker brew pub in Regina years ago and keep going back. They brew fantastic delights. There’s a tiny bit of sweetness in their malty Palliser Porter. It’s pure deliciousness in a pint-glass. You can get this bottled too, but go try it right at Bushwakkers and check out this amazing brew pub on Dewdney Avenue.

Friday: Manitoba: Half Pints Brewing Company (Winnipeg) – Stir Stick Stout

An easy 6 hour drive from Regina and you’re in Winnipeg. Winnipeg never fails with this lovely brew on the menu. I discovered this after a gig at the Park Theatre. It’s pretty strong tasting stout (6% alcohol) and most of the flavours I get from this are of the locally roasted coffee ingredient, but there are chocolate notes as well. It’s delightful! I’ve only had this bottled. Not sure if you can get this on tap too?

Sunday: Ontario: Mill Street Brewery (Toronto) – Mill Street Belgian-Style Wit Beer

When you pull into Toronto after the drive from Manitoba you’ll be ready to collapse. But instead, take this advice & head on down to the actual Mill Street Brewery in the incredibly quaint distillery district. It’s like walking back in time. The Victorian industrial space is so well-preserved with it’s cobblestone and brick streets, and 1800s architecture. You’ll get thirsty just looking at it. Wind through the lanes to find the Mill St brewery and belly up to the bar. Their Wit Beer is unfiltered & cloudy, and pretty citrus-y. There’s a hint of coriander and actually banana (somehow). You can get this one bottled too. I’d be amiss to not mention their Tankhouse Ale which you can now get bottled all across Canada. It’s a go-to beer for me too but is almost becoming too common for me now. Hence me recommending the Wit! It’s different and worth a try.

Tuesday: Quebec: McAuslan Brewery (Montreal) – St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout

You’re likely in Montreal by now and you’d be crazy not to try this one. This stout is available both bottled an on tap. It makes a great creamy head and is super black in a pint glass. It has rich coffee and chocolate notes. It’s one of my go-to Quebec beers.

Thursday: New Brunswick: Pumphouse Brewery (Moncton) – Scotch Ale

I’ve had this New Brunswick brew in a bottle and quite liked it – my bandmate didn’t. All the more reason for you to try it. I’m pretty sure I tried it in Moncton and am not sure about it’s availability elsewhere in Canada, but I noticed elsewhere in NB. It’s a nice dark brown when poured into a glass and has a great smoky caramel taste going on – kind of a woody/peat flavour so you know what you’re getting into. I actually think the aroma is more robust than the actual taste when you sip it. The aftertaste is fairly strong too. Certainly unique and worth a try.

Friday: Nova Scotia: Propeller Brewing Co. (Halifax) – Propeller Porter

I tried this porter when in Halifax last year. Two words: So. Good. It has a nice thick creamy head and the flavours are that chocolately coffee goodness I tend to migrate to in a porter. This seemed to have a few dark fruity hints too. It’s actually a little lighter than some other porters I’ve had which was a nice contrast. Maybe a good entry porter if you’re not used to drinking them?

Saturday: PEI: Prince Edward Island Brewing Co. (Charlottetown) – Iron Bridge Brown Ale

You’ll drive the confederation bridge over to PEI and you’ll be ready to settle in that evening for a pint. The PEI brewing company brews it up in Charlottetown, the capital. I had this one in a bottle and it was medium bodied compared to other ales I’ve had – maybe a bit thin if you like them super full bodied. It had a yummy malty chocolate taste and there was something a bit ‘grainy’ (roast cereal?) about the taste too. I’m sure that’s polarizing for some tasters but I’d do this one again for sure.

There are some obvious locales of this Canadian beer trip that I’ve not mentioned yet. It’s either because they didn’t fit the route I just described or I’ve not visited yet and have yet to pick a favorite. One more worth noting is in Yukon though:

Yukon: Yukon Brewing (Whitehorse) – Midnight Sun, Espresso Stout

I had this from a bottle in Whitehorse when up in the Yukon for a show as part of the Western Canadian Music Awards a few years ago. This stout had a nice malt + espresso coffee flavour. It was really robust with chocolate notes. I remember the bottle being BIG too!

If you’re looking for brew thoughts from Newfoundland/Labrador, NWT and Nunavut you’ll need to wait for a future post. I’ve yet to try the brewed delights there. I can’t wait though, as it’s been pretty fun doing this trans-Canada tasting. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little post and if you get to try some of the beers I’ve mentioned please post/reply and let me know what you think.
Cheers! Jeffery

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  1. Jeffery says:

    THanks for featuring my post!! keep up the great work. cheers Jeffery

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