Canadian Beers Wrap Up

When we got into Canada I asked “What should we eat”. “Ontario wines and beers are the best in the world.” was the prompt answer. So I set out on a quest to try as many different beers from Canada as I could manage. I made a huge effort to not drink the standard Canadian beers from big factories like Molsen, but stay with more of the smaller places and craft beers. The Liquor Control Board Ontario (LCBO) was helpful since they sell beers as singles. Most came from the LCBO or their spin off The Beer Store or “TBS”. You can buy a 16 oz / 473 ml can for between $2-2.75 each. I have purchased some at $1.65 to $1.85 per can on sale.

Buying bottled beer was harder since they don’t like to sell single bottles. Some breweries (like Cameron’s) help out by making 4 or 6 pack samplers. I grabbed these whenever possible.

It was interesting that some of the brewers are “silver bullet” cans. They use generic cans and put paper labels on them to cut down on the cost of having custom printed cans made. This has allowed more brewers to offer cans. Cans are also cheaper than bottles, so they can save a few cents that way.

A number of beers on the list came from doing tastings. When we went to Bar Volo in Toronto we tried 10 beers, in a taster 3 oz pour. “Just for the Halibut” had 4 at a time tasters. Some restaurants had different kinds of beers I wanted to try. It really throws the waiter when you switch beers on them. Very few waiters were beer savvy, the waitress at the Embers in Sault Ste Marie was a help as was the waiter at Monique’s in Blind River. The best was Bob at Loplops in Sault Ste Marie. With 3 coolers full of beer I could have stayed a few days tasting.

I was pleased that the new beers kept coming as we moved across Canada, I was able to have a new beer every day while we were there.

The glass at the top of the page has a turtle and a line to show where the 1 pint pour line is.  The glasses come from the brewers to help advertise their beer.  When I would get a second beer, if it was from a different brewery the glass would change to theirs.   The glass shown above would be a bad pour, since the beer does not get to the line.  I was trying to show the turtle, so I poured to get a bigger head.

The beers are listed below in alphabetical order by Brewery.

You may note that Churchkey has three in the top ten. This was the first brew pub and it set the benchmark for the rest of the trip. I was able to get some to take with me, so I’ve re-sampled them across the trip. — last update 21 August 2014 – 82 different beers (plus two that I spazzed on the labels)

Churchkey – Northumberland (#1)
Dieu du Ciel Brewery – Aphrodisiaque Stout(#2)
Churchkey Holy Smoke (#3)
Lake of Bays Brewing – Spark House Red Ale: (#4)
Left Field Brewery – Eepus: An Oatmeal Brown Ale (#5)
Churchkey – Red Pail Ale (Fire company brew)(#6)
Trafalgar Ales and Meads – Irish Ale (#7)
Great Lakes Brewery – Devil’s Pale Ale (#8)
Wellington County Brewery – Imperial Russian Stout (#9)
Grandville Island Brewing – Lion’s Winter Ale (#10)
Cameron’s Brewing – Rye Pale Ale (#11)
Waterloo – Dark (#12)

Alexander Keith’s – Cascade Hop Ale
I’m not a big hoppy beer fan, but this has just enough extra of the Cascade hops to give it a distinctive flavor. I’d drink this again.
Alexander Keith’s – Galaxy Hop Ale
Another of Alexander Keith’s special hop beers. Galaxy hops are from Australia, the have a fruit like flavor and aroma. That carries over to the beer. There is a mild citrus favor that I can just taste. It was good, but given a choice between the three hop ales, I’ll go with the Cascade Hop Ale.
Alexander Keith’s – Hallertauer Hop Ale
Hallertauer hops are from Bavaria, and they have a different flavor from the Cascade Hops used in the beer above. The hops are less pronounced in this beer, but there still is a distinctive hop flavor. It was good, but given a choice between the three hop ales, I’ll go with the Cascade Hop Ale. But this one gets the nod over the Galaxy Hop Ale.
Alexander Keith’s – Honey Brown
I like the Dundee’s Honey Brown (a Genesee Brewery product) and this is very close to that. It has slightly more hops and a touch more bitterness that would give it a nod over the Dundee’s.
Alexander Keith’s – Red Amber Ale
A big red beer fan, this is on my list. Good dark red color, great flavors, good finish.
Alexander Keith’s IPA
Not IPA fan, but I had this with some spicy Thai food and it went very well. It was very mild, bordering on almost a lite beer flavor. Not any bitter taste to the finish.
Amsterdam Brewing Company – Great Lakes X Ale
They say this is a farmhouse ale aged in cider barrels. I could taste the cider / fruit flavors. And since I don’t like fruit beers, it makes the taste seem off.
Arch Brewing – Dinner Jacket O’ Red IPA
Deep red color and a firm head sets this aside from other IPA’s. Very good flavor, I could tell that it was an IPA. But there was lots of complex flavors. Very strong finish, would go great with spicy foods.
Barley Days Brewery – Wind and Sail Ale
Nice crisp ale, not heavy, one of my top 5 in Canada. It had a good rich color and a very nice finish.
Brava Brewery – Brava Premium Lager
Good simple lager, not bitter, just the right level of hops, good finish. With the low price point of less than $2 per can it’s a very good value.
Brick Brewing – Laker Lager
A nice simple lager I had it with fried fish and it was good. It was also on sale for $1.85 a can.
Cameron’s Brewing – Auburn Ale
A west coast style ale. Dark color, hoppy smell. Has a slight fruity flavor and has a defined fruit finish. I’d like to try it again, but sadly there was only one in the sample pack.
Cameron’s Brewing – Deviator Doppelbock
From the bottle Aging six months in Kentucky bourbon barrels creates a smooth, toasted vanilla notes layered upon a complex malty body. Dopplelbocks were Teutonic inspired dark lagers with Germanic malt, and were served by the Bavarian monks during time of fasting as liquid bread. Indeed, this is a very chewy beer. I can taste the slight bourbon flavors. It was very good, but not something I’d drink on a regular basis. I’m thinking it would be better on a cold evening in winter, not a hot summer day in August. ABV is 8.6%
Cameron’s Brewing – Cameron’s Lager
Brewed by a connoisseur not an accountant is on the label. A nice lager, good color, a pale gold, not the normal yellow color for a lager. Great crisp flavor. I’ve only seen it in one place (Parry Sound) and hope that I can find more.
Cameron’s Brewing – Cream Ale
Not sure I’d call this a cream ale from the flavor. Medium amber color, not much of a head. The bottle says UK hops, but I can’t really tell.
Cameron’s Brewing – Rye Pale Ale (#11)
This is an unfiltered brew made with rye rather than barley. The bottle says five malts and seven different hops. The rye taste comes through and to the nose it smells sweet, between a fruit and a flower. Interesting finish with a sweet hop flavor. Another strong ale at 6.6% ABV
Churchkey – Northumberland (#1)
Full body ale without being annoying over hopped. Rich amber color, nice head when you pour. This is Churchkey’s signature brew. This is number one on my list.
Churchkey Small Beer
They take what is left from a Northumberland run and add water and get a second cook out of it. You would think “a lite beer” and you would be 1/2 right, it only has less than 3% alcohol content. Where you would be wrong is on the flavor side. Less than the Northumberland, but much more of the full beer taste.
Churchkey Holy Smoke (#3)
They say it’s made with grains smoked with peat. It has a smokey taste, imagine drinking your favorite porter next to a fire or BBQ smoker. It’s that light smoke taste that adds to the body. This isn’t a beer I could drink lots of, but with a meal it would be great.
Churchkey Red Pail Ale (Fire company brew)(#6)
A fine red ale, great color, very nice ale taste, with the right set of complex favors. I was surprised by it, I’m used to American reds, this was much better.
Collective Arts Brewing – Rhyme and Reason
This is an American Pale Ale beer with a great hoppy smell, but not a heavy hop flavor. No bitterness that I sometimes taste in American Pale Ale styles.
County Durham Brewing Company – Black Katt Stout
Deep full stout flavor, but not the heaviness or sweet flavors of a stout. I would class it more of a porter, but it’s very good.
Creemore Springs Lager
Very nice lager, really reminds me of Victory Lager in Downingtown. Nice flavor profile, not over hopped. A little on the bubbly side.
Creemore Springs Kellerbier
This is an unfiltered German Lager. It’s a little cloudy, but not as much as other unfiltered beers I’ve had (like the Steamwhistle Lager). Light hoppy flavor, not as many bubbles as their Lager.
Dieu du Ciel Brewery – Aphrodisiaque Stout(#2)
A cocoa and vanilla stout, it is very creamy and has a distinct chocolate flavor. Really loved the flavor combinations and the mouth feel. This was number 1 in my Bar Volo experience.
Double Trouble Brewing – Hops and Robbers
A hopped up IPA that I enjoyed. It has a nice golden dark color and a little bit of foam. I can taste the extra hops, they did a good job of managing them during the brewing process.
Double Trouble Brewing – Prison Break Breakout Pilsner
I enjoyed this beer very much. I liked the smooth flavor and the lack of bitterness. This could easily become one of my go to beers if it was made 900 miles closer to home.
Granite Brewery – Peculiar
Strong English Ale with not much up front taste but a great dry finish.
Granville Island (BC)- English Bay Pale Ale
Ugg. I tried two, since I thought the first one had gone off. It has a weird taste that I can’t really place.
Granville Island (BC) – Lions Winter Ale (#10)
A darker ale, color is almost bordering on a red ale. Pronounced wheat nose, with chocolate overtones. You can taste the wheat and barley flavors mixing together, not bitter and not hoppy. A huge happy surprise over the prior Granville Island beer.
Granville Island (BC) Robson Street Hefeweizen
This is an unfiltered wheat ale. It’s an interesting yellow/orange color. The unfiltered adds a depth of color. Nice head. Nice flavor, not really wheatey to me, but it does have an orange fruit finish. The can says to add a lemon wedge, but both the brewmaster and I scoff. It says it’s a breakfast beer, but I had it with Italian sausages and it was a good match.
Great Lakes Brewery – Devil’s Pale Ale (#8)
Really dark pale ale, with a great flavor. It pours with a nice head and has a hoppy smell, but not really an over hopped flavor.
Grolsch Non-Alcoholic
It’s the best NA beer I’ve had, flavor profile is much better than most light beers. I’ve not seen it in the US, so I’m marking it as a Canada Beer.
Hogsback – Vintage Lager
An OK lager, not anything special going on with it. Good balance of flavors, not over hopped. It’s mid priced, and the can looks cool so maybe that is the added value.
Hop City Brewing – Barking Squirrel Lager
Hop City claims “serious attitude” and this beer has it. It boarders on the line between a lager and ale. They did a great job of dialing down the hops and letting the grains come through.
Hop City Brewing – Lawn Chair Classic Weisse
A lightly cloudy gold colored beer. Good head, lots of small bubbles. Wheat flavor with some over tones of fruit. Nice crisp finish.
James Ready Lager
Good to go beer, nothing really special. I’d describe it as the “Budwiser of Canada” but they make Budwiser in Canada.
King Brewery – King Vienna Lager
It is a Vienna Lager style beer, so it has a slightly sweet taste.
Lake of Bays Brewing – Crosswind Pale Ale
Very light color, good ale taste, not too bitter. Again a great summertime sipper. It has a pale color with lots of bubbles.
Lake of Bays Brewing – Top Shelf Classic Lager
A good lager, nice flavors with not any heavy hop bitterness. If I had to pick, I’d drink the Baysville Lager shown below. The can says “Offical Beer of the NHL Alumni Association”, and says purchase of the beer goes to the HHLAA.
Lake of Bays Brewing – Rock Cut Baysville Lager
Very nice lager. Big flavors with a nice color. I’ve been impressed with all the Lake of Bays beers, this is no exception.
Lake of Bays Brewing – Spark House Red Ale
(#4) Wow, this is a great red ale! Nice toasted flavor, deep color, great taste.
Lakeport Brewing – Lakeport Pilsner
Nice taste, pale gold color, not very heavy on the hops. This was also an inexpensive brew, so would make it a good choice as a party beer.
Lakeport Brewing – Lakeport Honey
Golden brown color, with a light head. Not as rich a flavor as some of the honey browns I’ve had. Some bitter, not a lot of hop flavor, an indifferent finish. I’d put this one mid pack with the other honey browns.
Left Field Brewery – Eepus
An Oatmeal Brown Ale (#5) – This was from our side to side tasting and it was Susan and my #1 beer, putting it #4 on my Canada list. Rich brown color, full flavors, almost to the level of being a porter flavor.
Left Field Brewery – Maris* Pale Ale
Roger Maris made history when he beat Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961. (The star is for the footnote that when Maris played it was a longer season). This is a nice American Pale Ale, lots of hops, but not the bitterness that comes with an IPA.
Left Field Brewery – Sunlight Park Saison
A Belgian style beer. It has fruit undertones in it (and from reading their web site it’s grapefruit zest. I’m not a big Belgian fan, but this beer represents the style well.
McAuslan Brewery – Cream Ale
Very creamy, nice full head, no bitterness. From their web site St-Ambroise Cream Ale boasts a luxurious, thick head thanks to the nitrogen injected into every pint, a mist fine bubbles taking the edge off the harsh carbonation found in many North American draft beers. That silky, long-lasting head caps an irresistibly smooth yet muscular ale. Careful, it’ll give you a telltale moustache! And it did.
Midland Beer Works – Georgian Bay Beer
A light flavor lager, missing some of the deeper beer flavors that I’d expect in a lager. It would be good with light flavor food like fish.
Mill Street Organic Lager
I’ve eating pesticide laced food for so long I’m not sure what Organic really is supposed to taste like. This beer has a good lager flavor, but not really remarkable in any other way.
Mill Street Cobblestone Stout
Rich dark color, creamy head, great mouth feel. It has the full roasted flavor that I like to see in a Stout. Only a few stouts on this list, this is one of the better ones.
Molsen – Carling
Tastes to me a lot like regular Molsen. Good color, nice lager taste. A good middle of the beer list beer. As I recall it was about 25 cents a can cheaper than the other beers on this list. I also recall as a child seeing / hearing “Carling Black Label”. Molsen also is the Canadian Brewer of Coors, maybe this is a recipe from years ago.
Molsen – Old Style Pilsner
Trying to stay away from factory beer, but I got caught up in the can’s artwork. Glad I did, this is a very nice pilsner style. Bitterness and hops were spot on for the style. Now I’m craving schnitzel to go with it.
Moosehead Brewery – Boundary Ale
A very good ale, surprised that it comes from Moosehead. One of the first cans with the full ingredient list and the bitterness (39 IBU) printed. Nice flavor, can taste the cascade hops.
Moosehead Brewery – Cracked Canoe
Mooseheads light beer entry. Pale color, with a pretty decent head and good aroma. Tastes a little like the regular Moosehead beer, but I think it’s light on flavor. On the other hand, it’s one of the better light beers that I’ve had.
Muskoka Brewery – Craft Lager
Nice lager, it’s in the middle of the pack for the lagers I’ve had here.
Muskoka Brewery – Cream Ale
I’ve had this with food (fish tacos) and just as an evening beer hanging out with friends. Both times I though “this is really nice”. It has just that right level of hops to add flavor to the food, but not enough that you think you are chewing them.
Muskoka Brewery – Detour
IPA Session Ale. I can taste the added bitterness of the extra hops they put into it. This was another beer that started me on the road to really liking IPA.
Railway City – Canada Southern Draft
Crisp lager, with a very good flavor. Would be a good go to lager for the summer. Not a big head but has a very nice golden color.
Railway City – Dead Elephant IPA
Tried this as part of a 4 beer taster (3 ales, lager and IPA), and while I’m not a big IPA fan, I did like this one. It’s not as carbonated as others and that may have been a selling point. It was also not as bitter as I’ve found with other IPA’s. If I became an IPA fan, this would be it. – Update, I had it again and I’m starting to drift this one into the top 5 in Canada. Who knows, maybe I’m an IPA fan after all.
Rickard’s – Blond
A light pilsner, with an even flavor. Would be a good beer on a hot day or with light foods.
Rickard’s – Red
Irish Style Ale: I love the flavor in this red, it has bold taste and a great color. Sadly, it does not like me. I ended up giving the other cans away.
Rickard’s – White
Belgian-style wheat ale with lots of complex flavors. I’ve had a few wheat beers that I’ve liked, and I’m adding this one to the list.
Rickard’s Dark
Very nice dark. Border between a dark ale and a porter. Good creamy taste.
Rock Cut Baysville Lager
A nice lager with a slightly sweet taste. Very light hops. One of my best finds on the trip.
Sawdust City Brewery – Lone Pine IPA
American style IPA that is very hoppy, but without the bitterness of an IPA. If you like hopped up beers then this is your best bet.
Sidelaunch Brewing – Wheat
Traditional Wheat Beer, nice flavor a light color. It’s not over hopped so the wheat flavor comes through.
Sleeman Dark
This is a little darker than the honey brown. Nice flavor, the roasted flavor is noticeable. Not hoppy. I had this with roasted chicken, it made a very good counterpoint. Not seeing in the stores which makes me sad.
Sleeman Original Draught
It’s hard to describe this one. It’s very plain, nothing sticks out while I’m drinking it.
Sleeman Honey Brown Lager
One of the nicest Honey Brown’s that I’ve had. On par with the Dundee Honey Brown which is one of my “go to beers”.
Sleeman MacLays
Its from Scotland, but brewed in Ontario, so I’m calling it Canadian. It’s a Pale Ale with a very nice color and flavor.
Sleeman 2.0
Their entry into the low-cal / low alcohol beer. I did this side by side with the “Original Draught” and it has the same family of flavors. If you are going for a light beer, this may make good choice.
Square Nail Pale Ale
Nice IPA, after trying a number of new ones, I’m beginning to not dislike them so much. This one was very crisp. I had it with a cheeseburger and mushrooms and it was able to cut through the thicker taste. I only bought one, and since it’s a Peterborough Brewery, I may not get a chance at another one.
Steamwhistle Pilsner
I’ve had this a few times and in a hot afternoon it’s a great beer. It does not stand up well to the spicy food that I eat. But the smooth taste and that it goes down easy makes it a popular brew.
Trafalgar Ales and Meads – Irish Ale (#7)
A great brown ale, very dark in color with almost a chewy taste. It tastes like they really roasted the grains, but escaped the bitterness that sometimes creeps in.
Waterloo Amber
Love this beer, it would fall in the top five if it was not for the bigger flavored Dark below. This is a great dinner beer, it’s been a good partner with all the meals I’ve had it with.
Waterloo – Dark (#12)
I’m a dark beer drinker, this beer tastes a little heavier than the Waterloo Amber, almost bordering on a porter. For some reason it’s hard to find at the “Beer Store” in cans.
Waterloo – Traditional IPA
Nice IPA, good bitterness, nice hop flavor, good finish. It has a pretty color and a good head. Sadly in the crop of all the other IPA’s it really does not stand out.
Wellington County Brewery – Arkell Best Bitter
This is a session ale and it shows with the light hops flavors. It does taste like a traditional English bitter. It’s 4% ABV moves it towards the light beer category.
Wellington County Brewery – Dark Ale
Deep dark red color, subtile aromas. Very good flavors and a slight chocolate finish. If the Imperial Russian Stout is too much, this is just back a step in richness.
Wellington County Brewery – Imperial Russian Stout (#9)
I love stouts. This one pours into a dark thick head, tiny little bubbles. Rich full taste, chocolate and coffee flavors are very pronounced. Just a slight bitterness to let you know this is a stout. It’s at 8% ABV so one to a customer.

Not really Canadian beers, I got caught by the dual English/French label

Red Strip Brewery Dragon Stout
What a nice creamy stout with nice chocolate and coffee flavors. Just a little fizz to build a small head. I’ll be on the lookout to get more of this: Warning, it comes in a smaller 300ml/10oz bottle, but weighs in at 7.5% ABV.

Another English / French label confusion was Crest Super Lager. This is a dark gold lager with a very nice flavor. Not too hoppy, and a mouth feel that makes it almost seem chewy. It weighs in at 10%ABV so it’s another of those 1 per customer deals.

One thought on “Canadian Beers Wrap Up

  1. Great write up. I have only had 2 of your top 12 so I have some work to do.

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