To celebrate Canada Day, editor Trevor J. Adams and I pick must-try beers from across our vast country. Seek these out and you’ll discover an abundance of flavours and styles as varied as our nation.
Newfoundland & Labrador
YellowBelly Pale Ale
YellowBelly Brewery & Public House
Zesty hop bitterness, with a big malt balance. Light and thirst-quenching. An ideal summer session ale. You can’t normally find this one in Halifax, but it’ll probably be at the Halifax Seaport BeerFest in August.
Prince Edward Island
U-Pick Strawberry Pale Ale
PEI Brewing Co.
This light and delightful brew came out of the brewery’s After Hours Series, which encourages the brewers to experiment with new ingredients and styles. Watch for plenty of fresh strawberry aroma with a piney and herbal hop kick to finish it off.
Thyme to Grow a Pear Blueberry Kettle Sour
Roof Hound Brewing Co.
Kettle soured with yogurt, and then blended with pear and blueberry puree, as well as fresh thyme, this beer offers a bevy of flavours. Take a day-trip to Digby and explore this multifaceted brew.
Canon Franchetti Cappuccino Stout
Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault
Inside this stubby 341 ml bottle is a velvety, coffee stout that’s like drinking velvet. The fair-trade, organic coffee is upfront in this one, but its flavour is well balanced with hints of chocolate. Find it at ANBL in New Brunswick.
Péché Mortel (American imperial stout)
Brasserie Dieu du Ciel
Routinely cited as one of Canada’s best beers, and a single mouthful will tell you why: rich and roasty coffee flavours, dark-chocolate bittersweetness, smooth and velvety. “Stouts in summer?” some will cry; ignore them. You should drink a beer this good whenever you can get it. Often in bottles at Halifax’s private stores; sometimes on tap at Stillwell.
Octopus Wants to Fight IPA
Great Lakes Brewery
Upper Canada has a heck of a lot of good craft beer; let’s focus on one you can find locally. A textbook American IPA for summer: juicy and zingy, hop-forward with a long citrus-bitter close. At 6.2%, dangerously easy to drink. Sometimes available in cans at Halifax’s private stores.
Little Scrapper IPA
Half Pints Brewing Company
Manitoba has a craft-beer scene that will forever make you grateful to be a Nova Scotian—no shade on the brewers; the tangled regulatory environment makes for painfully slow growth. This dry-hopped American IPA offers a big grapefruity punch in the mouth that will please hopheads. It was available at the Halifax Seaport BeerFest last year; no word yet on whether it’ll be back this year.
Original 16 Canadian Copper
Great Western Brewing Company
You’ll probably have to go west to try this American amber, but if you see it, grab it. Caramel hints, but roasty and smooth, avoiding the cloyingness that plagues this style. Paired nicely with a spicy Argentine pizza.
Hazy Horizon Hefeweizen
This European-style Calgary brewery is only a few months old, but already winning awards. This brew took home the Best of Alberta award at the Canadian International Brewing Awards in May. Heavy on the banana and clove yeast flavours, and slightly sweet without being sickly.
Drupaceous Apricot Wheat Ale
This is an ideal hot-afternoon sipper. Floral and sweet, with a big apricot nose. Light and faintly sweet, but a nice grainy balance. Prickly, light, and refreshing. ANBL in New Brunswick is currently carrying this and several others from Cannery—it’s worth stocking up.
Black Current Dark Ale
Yukon Brewing Co.
A weighty, dark ale that’s big on flavour. The black current flavour really shines against the warming feel of this beer. Find it in the Central City Brewers Across the Nation Collaboration 12-pack available now at Halifax’s private stores.
Ragged Pine Ale
NWT Brewing Company
This Northwestern-style pale ale drinks like a mild IPA. It’s packed with piney hop flavours thanks to late additions of Simcoe and Chinook hops. As NWT Brewing is Canada’s most northern brewery, you’ll have to rely on beer mail to grab one of these.