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Craft Beer: 20 Great Canadian Beers For Every Type

06/13/2013 05:44 EDT | Updated 06/14/2013 11:02 EDT
AP

It's no simple stereotype that Canadians love their beer. Beer is this country's most popular alcoholic drink, and craft beer in particular is having a renaissance in Canada. Even as our per capita beer consumption drops, sales and consumption of craft beers keeps rising.

Overall beer sales have been flat across Canada since 1995, but craft beer sales have revenue growth at or near double digits, and have since 2009, according to a 2012 report from BMO Nesbitt Burns.

Breweries across the country are producing dozens of excellent beers that range from traditional to inventive, and to help meet the increased demand, Niagara College now has a post-secondary brewmaster program, with Canada's first teaching brewery.

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Best Canadian Craft Beers

Craft breweries used to be referred to as micro-breweries, but some of them aren't so small anymore: Quebec's McAuslan Brewery sells more than $20 million worth of beer a year, for example. Ontario Craft Brewers' top cutoff for a craft brewery is 400,000 hecalitres of beer a year.

With all the new craft beers to choose from, how do you decide which bottle or six-pack to pick up for your next barbecue? Our guide to the best craft beers in Canada is a great place to start. We've organized it by type so you can go to a style of brew you know you enjoy and find a new favourite, or make a tasting list of new kinds of beer to discover. The availability of these beers varies, but we've covered eight provinces and a territory with our selections — so ambitious beer fans could embark on a road trip of brewery visits.

Break out your glassware and a bottle opener, and let's get pouring with these 20 great Canadian craft beers.

IPA: Red Racer Pale Ale

Brewery: Central City Brewing

City: Surrey, British Columbia

The Type: Imperial pale ales are hoppier (more bitter) than regular pale beers, originally thanks to the extra hops added in the United Kingdom to keep the beer fresh on its journey to British soldiers stationed in India.

The Brew: Central City won Brewery of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Brewing Awards. The brewery describes the taste as "ruby red grapefruit, with depth of malt backbone."

Gluten-Free: Glutenberg Belgian Double

Brewery: Brasseurs Sans Gluten

City: Montreal, Quebec

The Type: Traditional beer is definitely not gluten-free friendly, because it's made with barley (and sometimes wheat). The gluten-free beer offerings are still slim, but growing.

The Brew: All of Brasseurs' brews are gluten free, made with grains like millet. Love strong, comforting tastes? This warm and spicy beer has notes of molasses, clove, and nutmeg, and 6.5 per cent alcohol.

Wheat: Weissbier

Brewery: Denisons Brewing Company

City: Toronto, Ontario

The Type: These beers are light and low on aftertaste, thanks to the use of wheat in brewing.

The Brew: "Weissbier" is what they call wheat beer in Bavaria, and this beer from Denisons is a traditional Bavarian-style brew made with a special Bavarian yeast. It's been number one in the German Hefeweizen category on ratebeer.com for more than a decade.

Porter: Nutcracker Porter

Brewery: Black Oak Brewery

City: Etobicoke, Ontario

The Type: Porters are dark like stouts, but generally sweeter and less hoppy.

The Brew: Save this suggestion for the holiday season, when this dark cinnamon-spiced brew will be perfect with some figgy pudding — which Black Oak says is one of the flavours in this beer.

Stout: St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout

Brewery: Brasserie McAuslan Brewery

City: Montreal, Quebec

The Type: These dark and rich beers often use unmalted roasted barley to give the beer a character kind of like coffee.

The Brew: This beer is brewed from 40 per cent dark malts and roasted barley, but also has oatmeal to give it body and a mocha-coloured head.

Farmhouse Saison: Saison Station 16

Brewery: Hopfenstark

City: L'Assomption, Quebec

The Type: These highly carbonated beers were originally brewed in the cooler months in Belgium and then stored by farm workers to drink in the summer months.

The Brew: This spring seasonal brew is Belgian style with citrus and clove aromas.

Belgian: La Fin du Monde

Brewery: Unibroue

City: Clarington, Ontario

The Type: Belgium has a centuries-old beer brewing tradition, and Belgian-style beers can be of several different varieties.

The Brew: This beer with a floral bouquet has, so far, won more medals and awards than any other Canadian beer.

Mead: Meade

Brewery: Applewood

City: Stouffville, Ontario

The Type: This ancient beverage is not exactly a beer: rather, it's a fermented honey and wine beverage that sometimes also contains grain mash and/or hops, which can give it a beer-like flavour.

The Brew: If you're looking for a buzz, you'd get a good start reaching for this beverage, with a 20 per cent alcohol content.

Fruit: Blueberry Cream Ale

Brewery: Pumphouse Brewery

City: Moncton, New Brunswick

The Type: These tend to be ales, but have a different character because of the low bitterness and malt flavour required to let the fruit shine through.

The Brew: East Coast blueberries are delicious, and this beer ads spicy notes to kick things up a notch.

Summer: Dooryard Organic Ale

Brewery: Picaroons Traditional Ales

City: Fredericton, New Brunswick

The Type: When the weather is warm you want a seasonal brew that's clean and refreshing, like the ones in this category.

The Brew: Picaroon's certified-organic summer ale, with three traditional wheat beer styles in the blend, won bronze at the Canadian Brewing Awards in 2009 and 2010.

Smokey: Holy Smoke Scotch Ale

Brewery: Church-Key Brewing Company

City: Cambellford, Ontario

The Type: These beers are given their smokey flavour through the use of malted barley dried over an open flame.

The Brew: This peat-smoked Scotch ale is so dark that it's nearly black.

Wit: Oranje Weiss

Brewery: Amsterdam Brewery

City: Toronto, Ontario

The Type: This Belgian-style beer is light and crisp that narrowly escaped extinction twice in the 20th century.

The Brew: This seasonal brew is an unfiltered white, flavoured with orange peel, coriander, and anise.

Scotch Ale: Wee Heavy Scotch Ale

Brewery: Amsterdam Brewery

City: Toronto, Ontario

The Type: These dark and strong beers are bittersweet and sometimes slightly metallic.

The Brew: This ruby-red beer is available every winter, with a blend of five different malts to keep your belly warm.

Rye: Rye Pale Ale

Brewery: Cameron's Brewing

City: Oakville, Ontario

The Type: Rye beers are made when a portion of the barley malt is replaced with rye, which is generally malted.

The Brew: Part of Cameron's brewmaster series, this bittersweet beer has won several Canadian Brewing Awards, including a bronze in 2013.

Pale: Imperial I.P.A

Brewery: Garrison Brewing Company

City: Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Type: Copper coloured and fruity, these beers are originally from England.

The Brew: Garrison bills this as "the hoppiest beer in Atlantic Canada." Depending on your taste for hops, that either sounds great or awful. If you're a hophead, this is your brew.

Pilsner: Pilsner

Brewery: King Brewery

City: Nobleton, Ontario

The Type: These beers have a more distinctive hop taste than other lagers, with a dry and somewhat bitter flavour.

The Brew: King imports the Bohemian malts used to brew this Czech-style beer, which won a silver medal in 2013 at the Canadian Brewing Awards.

Red: Fighting Irish Red

Brewery: Yellow Belly

City: St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

The Type: Thick bodied and amber or red coloured, depending on the particular brew used.

The Brew: Billed as the brewery's most complex beer, Yellow Belly's red brew has notes like burnt toast and strawberry jam.

Brown Ale: Traditional Ale

Brewery: Big Rock Brewery

City: Calgary, Alberta

The Type: Look for caramel and chocolate flavours, sometimes with a slight citrus accent.

The Brew: This beer was first brewed in 1985 with the goal of creating an English-style beer that was markedly different from the typical Canadian bottle.

Lager: Black Cat

Brewery: Paddock Wood Brewing Co.

City: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The Type: Lagers are aged longer, which gives them a smooth finish. These are the world's most popular beers.

The Brew: This beer with "delicate coffee notes" comes from Saskatchewan's first microbrewery.

Kolsch: Lug Tread

Brewery: Beau's All Natural Brewing Company

City: Vankleek Hill, Ontario

The Type: This German style of beer has a noticeable hoppiness without being extreme, and is not as bitter as regular German pale lager.

The Brew: Beau's flagship brew is a tribute to the classic beer of Cologne, Germany. It's top fermented like an ale and then cold aged like a lager.

Is there a Canadian craft beer that you love? Tell us what it is in the list below!