If, however, you survey beer aficionados – people who drink beer because they truly enjoy the taste and subtleties, and people with a discerning palate – then you’re likely to get a list full of craft brewers and small-batch brews of which most of the drinking public has never heard.
Our list of the Best Canadian beer brands will contain both the favorites of the Canuck masses and the smaller labels most appreciated by both Canadian beer drinkers and the people who give out the North American Brewers awards annually.
No list of Canadian beer brands could ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room when talking about beer in Canada, and that gorilla is most certainly Labatt’s. Its Labatt Blue pilsner is the best-selling Canadian beer around the globe. Closer to home, this lager has been a favorite of Canadians since its introduction in 1951. Fun fact: Labatt Blue was originally named Labatt Pilsener, but because of the color of its label as well as the company’s support of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team, people began calling it “Blue.”
Labatt brews other labels in addition to the popular Blue, including Labatt 50. This ale was first introduced in 1950, the year before Blue was rolled out. Labatt 50, originally called Fiftieth Anniversary Ale, was Canada’s first light-tasting beer. Although it doesn’t win taste awards, it is still enjoyed throughout the country, especially by those who like the price and have an affection for the beer they drank in their youth.
Sadly, Labatt is no longer purely a Canadian brand, as it was first acquired by Belgian-based Interbrew in 1995. Interbrew then combined with Brazil’s AmBev in 2004. In 2008, AmBev merged with Anheuser Busch to create the largest, global brewing entity, Anheuser-Busch InBev. Still, just as Budweiser is still considered a home label in the States, so too does Labatt still remain Canadian.
Although Molson merged with Coors in 2005, it has its roots firmly in Canadian soil. Molson was founded way back in 1786 in Montreal by John Molson, though it was many, many years later that Molson Canadian was unveiled in 1959. The 1950s certainly seem to be the decade of Canadian beers!
Molson Canadian remains one of Canada’s most iconic beer brands, down to the maple leaf on its label. Like Labatt Blue, it’s another game-day beer, perfect for watching any rough sports alongside chips or pizza.
Moosehead is Canada’s oldest independent brewery and considered by some to be the true Canadian beer. It was started in 1867 by Susannah Oland in Nova Scotia, and through a chain of deaths, fires, and name changes, became Moosehead Breweries Ltd. in 1947, located now in Saint John, New Brunswick. Moosehead is also the official beer of the Canadian National Basketball Association. Its lager and ale tend to get middling to fair reviews from consumers–they’re that kind of beers that goes down easily enough without much thought.
If you’re a fan of the craft brewing movement, chances are you’ve enjoyed some Whistler Brewing Company beers. Established in Whistler, British Columbia in 1989, the brewery’s craft beers review very well among beer lovers. There’s even a brewery tour for people who want to see the process in person and taste the brews at their source. Whistler’s Valley Trail Chestnut Ale and Paradise Valley Grapefruit Ale are two of its best-received beers.
Like Whistler, Bowen Island Brewing Company operated in British Columbia and, like Whistler, it is now controlled by NorthAm Brewing. However, its craft brews are still winning awards. Most recently, Bowen’s Honey Brown Lager took home the Silver in the Honey Beer/Malternatives category of the North American Brewing Association Awards. Bowen also makes an Irish cream ale, a hemp blonde ale, a pilsner, an amber ale, and an Indian pale ale.
The Canadian beer that consistently wins with beer aficionados on the Beer Advocate website is most certainly La Fin du Monde. It is brewed by Sleeman Unibroue in Quebec, one of the most award-winning breweries in North America. The brewer claims more than 183 international awards for its brews, with La Fin du Monde earning the bulk of them. In fact, La Fin du Monde, a Golden Ale, has earned more honors than any other Canadian beer.
We’re also a big fan of Unibroue’s fun names for its brews, ranging from the Quelque Chose to the Terrible (whose recommended drinking glass is a chalice). The great thing is, with a bottle of La Fin de Monde in your hand, you can either party like it’s the end of the world or enjoy a fine-crafted beer that will put an end to the world of bad beers you’ve been drinking.