A guide to the best breweries in Canada
How many can you check off?
READ TIME: 6 minutes
It’s no secret that Canadians love their beer. Since the 1600s when European settlers brought beer into Canada it has been a part of the country’s fabric.
According to research by Beer Canada, the number of microbreweries in recent years has changed dramatically, with less than 90 in 2006 rising to an all-time high of 995 in 2018.
Something that you’ll notice after you’ve spent some time in the country is that cities like Toronto and Vancouver aren’t alone in their brewing culture.
In this guide, we’ve listed some of the best breweries you can visit across Canada. Check out our interactive map to see the top breweries in each province and once you’ve booked your flights to Canada, download our checklist and tick them off as you go!
Tick off the breweries you visit one by one with our downloadable Canadian Affair checklist.
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Why should you visit a brewery in Canada?
From Whitehorse in the Yukon to Halifax in Nova Scotia, there are plenty of opportunities to visit a brewery during your holiday in Canada, but why should you visit?
Beer lover or not, it’s great fun exploring a new place and trying new things.
Macca Sherifi, a UK travel blogger and photographer, shares his experiences on his An Adventurous World blog, having travelled all over Canada.
“One of my favourite things to do in Vancouver is to visit a few of the local breweries,” he said. “The last time I was there, I hired a bike and went on a bit of a local brewery bike tour hitting up 4 or 5 different places – [it was] so much fun and such a great experience.”
If you have arranged your flights to Canada and are heading to Vancouver, Macca highly recommends breweries like Storm Brewing and Bomber Brewing and considers them to be “destinations in their own right, especially on weekends”.
You get an insight into the culture
Canada is a culturally diverse nation, but as beer enthusiasts, one of the best ways to explore the culture is through the beer itself. By visiting a brewery or attending a beer festival you’ll also learn more about the history of the region and its culture.
British travel blogger, Jaillan Yehia, who runs Savoir There, lived in Vancouver for almost four years and says one of the most exciting things about the west coast is its thriving craft beer scene.
“You’ll get a close-up view of Canadian hipster culture at any downtown brewery, but try Parallel 49 and 33 Acres for a real slice of local nightlife and a glimpse into what makes a hit Canadian IPA.”
Becky Moore, the owner of award-winning travel blog Global Grasshopper, believes that Canada is having a craft beer revolution because of its connection to the culture.
"Canadians love the closer connection with the land and communities that this kind of brewing brings, and they have really embraced the artisanal aspect of it— from the smaller scale of production to the incredible illustrated branding which many craft beers have.”
Becky went one step further and told us that when you choose a Canadian brew you are picking something homegrown that’s produced with time, care and love.
There are lots of places in Canada you can visit to experience this such as Toronto’s Distillery Historic District. Not only can you benefit from cheap flights to Toronto to explore this district, but you can enjoy the largest collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America.
- Discovering Toronto's Distillery Historic District
You can try something new
There are a lot of household beers and ales around which, although are tasty, can get a little bland after a while. By visiting a brewery, your eyes will be opened to a whole new world of beer.
Victoria Philpott, a solo traveller that runs the blog Vicky Flip Flop Travels, previously experienced the brewing scene in Canada when she visited the Banff Ave Brewery.
“I love the whole vibe around breweries, and the fact you can try something new and interesting rather than the same old household names,” she said. “Also, their chicken wings were an absolute taste sensation. A perfect pairing.”
Popular Canadian drinks
With so many breweries dotted across the country, there are some damn good drinks you can taste along the way.
Macca Sherifi from An Adventurous World has noticed a huge rise in the popularity of Canadian beers and ales. He told us that just a few years ago there used to be hardly any choice, but that these days there are “1,000s of beers to work through which is great”.
Here we list some of the most popular drinks in Canada including beers, ales and cocktails.
Moosehead Lager- Widely regarded as Canada’s premium lager, this golden drink is a fine balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness.
Caesar - This is essentially a spicy Bloody Mary, made with Clamato juice (tomato juice with spices and dried clams) and is regarded as the national cocktail of Canada. A tradition is to garnish these drinks with anything from celery sticks to towers of mini burgers—and Jaillan Yehia highly recommends trying this. “As much as I enjoy a Canadian craft beer, my favourite Canadian drink is and always will be the Caesar,” she says. And she’s not alone! Apparently, Canadians drink over 400 million Caesars a year!
Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale - Brewed since 1820, this is the original Nova Scotia ale and the oldest continuously brewed beer in North America. The golden ale has now become one of the most popular drinks in Canada.
Ice Wine - Synonymous with the Niagara-on-the Lake region, this decadent drink has been recognised by the international wine world. True ice wine can only be made from grapes that have naturally frozen on the vine, meaning the wine is extra sweet. Victoria Philpott says she’d never heard of ice wine before she visited Canada.” Served chilled with a seafood dinner, it's absolutely delicious,” she said.
Kombucha - These drinks can come in all shapes and sizes and are mainly produced in independent microbreweries. Whether it’s a healthy tea or a cocktail, you can find them in a variety of bars in Montréal. Becky Moore from Global Grasshopper told us about how healthy they are. “Kombucha is a fermented, mildly alcoholic drink which is said to be packed full of health-enhancing probiotics and amino acids,” she said.
- Top 5 drinks to try in Canada
If you want to explore Canada, then take a look at our offers on flights and holidays, including cheap flights to Toronto and other destinations across this great nation.