Canada’s long, cold winters in contrast to the warm summers create a perfect climate for brewers to offer a diverse range of styles. Decadent stouts, crisp lagers, complex sours, and all-season hoppy beers are showcased coast-to-coast.
The Great White North has produced, and continues to nurture, extremely talented and driven brewers. Wherever you are in Canada, you’ll find world-class breweries committed to pushing craft beer’s boundaries.
Here’s our list highlighting ten of the absolute best.
Known world-wide for their coffee imperial stout, Peché Mortel, Dieu du Ciel are legends in their native Quebec. From their cozy Montreal brewpub to their production facility north of the city, DDC brews exceptional beer. In their 20+ years leading Quebec’s craft beer revolution, they’ve made hundreds of beers with passion and meticulous detail.
Dieu du Ciel has always been true to their values, while continuously pushing the limits of craft beer. Expressive flavor profiles – inspired by Belgian and British brewing tradition – have always been their target. Inspired by this tradition, but committed to innovation, they brew some of the most unique beer in the country. You’ll find use of exotic fruits, atypical spices, and unorthodox blends of sour, spicy, bitter, or sweet.
This Quebec brewery has long been at the top of Canada’s beer evolution with absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Craft beer in Canada wouldn’t be where it is today without Bellwoods. As the most iconic modern Toronto craft brewery, they’ve promoted the country’s great beer scene throughout the world. Collaborating with the best breweries in the U.S. and Europe, and pioneering modern styles, Bellwoods are dedicated to the craft.
The brewery’s striking graphic design places them among the most visually pleasing in all of craft beer. This unique and beautiful aesthetic mirrors their fantastic contemporary ales and lagers. Bellwoods values their hoppy beers as much as their stouts, not to mention their fantastic sour and barrel-aged program. With an incredible attention to detail and flavor packed beers, they’re one of the most versatile breweries in the world.
Delta, British Columbia
British Columbia’s craft beer scene has been ahead of the majority of the country since the ‘80s. It makes sense – most of the country’s hops are grown in Canada’s warmest climate among its finest vineyards. Add in the advanced gastronomic palate of epicurean locals, and the province is a hotspot for talented brewers. Four Winds Brewing feeds off this admiration for craft and quality, while creating unique and refined beers in Delta, BC.
Elegant and restrained, Four Winds’ approach to brewing blends Belgian influence with local tastes. Mixed-fermentation, barrel aged farmhouse ales are highlights in their catalogue. Like Operis, a rustic and funky saison aged in local red wine barrels. Session ales, crisp lagers, and innovative hoppy brews round out their collection. Everything’s brewed with quality, distinction, and dedication.
Near the Eastern edge of the continent, Auval produces IPAs, saisons, and wild fermented ales, drawing crowds from far and wide. Proving Kevin Costner’s famous Field of Dreams line, “if you build it, they will come,” Auval is a magnetic brewery. Craft beer enthusiasts drive hundreds of miles to taste their simplistic yet beautiful takes on a range of styles. Auval’s focused production and thoughtful execution has earned them a spot among Canada’s best.
Passive and natural, Auval’s beers are farmhouse in nature but brewed with a methodical mindset. Belgian-style saison, grisette, and mixed-fermentation ales keep things dry, complex, and sometimes funky. Delicate lagers with lengthy cold conditioning, like C-12 Pivo, are extremely drinkable and refined. Auval only releases beer when it’s ready – and it’s always well worth waiting for.
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Opening a hazy IPA, hop-focused brewery in 2014 was ambitious. Out of the gate, Trailway was brewing soft, tropical, and juicy NEIPA. Those familiar with the then-brand-new style couldn’t have been happier. The uninitiated would soon be converted. Trailway changed the face of brewing in the province of New Brunswick, and their nation-wide reach has rapidly grown in the years since.
Sourcing only the finest hops – mainly Australian and American varieties – Trailway’s IPAs are intense, bright, fruity, and resinous. They’re experts at coalescing a soft mouthfeel – still highly drinkable and dry – with expressive and layered hop profiles.
On top of the showcase of hops, their pursuit of excellence extends to a range of precise and balanced styles. Roasty stouts, crisp lagers, and a blossoming sour beer program complete the East Coast juggernaut’s lineup.
Blind Enthusiasm has an eye for detail. Precision technique runs throughout their brewing process. Focusing on historic styles, with a penchant for the contemporary, drinkability is always high on their list of priorities.
Lagers are central to Blind Enthusiasm’s brewing ethos. They’re the brewery’s passion. Despite focusing on bottom fermentation, they offer a massive number of flavors and styles. From IPA style hoppiness, to the cleanest and brightest of Helles, the dedication to fermentation control shows in the quality of the beer.
In addition to their main facility, two blocks over they have a mixed-fermentation brewery called The Monolith. There, they can focus on excellent wild beers, without the risk of cross-contaminating their lager brewery. Expect to taste distinct barrel aged lagers, spontaneous fermentations, and funk-forward blends.
In a craft beer landscape dominated by fruity IPAs, dessert stouts, and smoothie sours, Godspeed takes the road less traveled. It’s their nuanced Czech lagers, delicate English ales, and Japanese influenced session beer that set them apart.
An alumni brewer of Dieu du Ciel, Luc Bim Lafontaine took his unique brewing philosophy to Toronto to open up a quaint and sophisticated brewpub. Don’t be surprised to see lightly smoked beer, plenty of lager styles, and the use of fragrant citrus fruit. They’re not shy to explore and highlight styles often underrepresented or underappreciated. Along the way, discovering new and exciting flavors keeps them continuously inspired.
Through the power of subtlety, Godspeed offers a polished and minimalist product in an often maximalist craft beer market.
East of Montreal, there’s a unique agricultural area rife with innovative producers. Vineyards, orchards, and farmland make up what’s known as the Eastern Townships. Among this hotbed of growers sits Brasserie Dunham, a powerhouse specializing in funky saisons and pungent IPA.
With a very prevalent Belgian influence, Dunham produces rustic and refreshing farmhouse ales. That said, a clear passion for hops runs through the brewery. Artfully hopped Belgian-styles blend tradition with New World flavors. Along with those, their IPAs are juicy and resinous, with a hint of old-school backbone.
Brasserie Dunham is an innovative and fun brewery, with a commitment to offering a versatile lineup. They embrace the Quebecois joie de vivre while brewing with a naturalistic approach.
The Trans-Canada Highway is a 4,860 mile route connecting the country’s East and West coasts. At the halfway mark, the historic city of Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, is both blue-collar and a cultural hub. Trans Canada Brewing Company offers its citizens nostalgic and very Canadian beers. At the same time, they introduce cutting-edge, contemporary flavors and styles.
Trans Canada has a core range of crowd pleasers like their textbook, delicious Portager Bohemian Pilsner. They also have hoppy styles, like the Citra hopped Avenger Pale Ale. Trans Canada believes in experimentation as seen in a beautifully executed series of complex wood-aged sour ales. Making use of their foeders, a host of deliciously funky beers – like their Foeder Brett Pale Ale – routinely grace their exceptional menu.
Les Trois Mousquetaires is a tour de force in the Canadian beer scene, releasing an abundance of modern takes on traditional styles. A few beautiful lagers, a brett saison, along with outstanding IPAs, sours, and stouts – they do everything exceptionally well.
A mature and calculated wood aging program consistently offers up complex flavors from a host of barrels. They make use of bourbon, port, brandy, and wine barrels to highlight and enhance certain beers in their series. LTM’s Porter Baltique, aged in both bourbon and brandy barrels, is one of the most underrated barrel aged beers in North America. Chocolatey, decadent, and sweet, this bottom-fermented silky elixir has intense notes of oak, sweet brandy, and light char.