Best Beer Towns in Canada


Beer snobs, unite! It’s a great time to be a Canadian hophead, and things are only getting better. In every province, across the prairies and over the mountains, you’ll find beer that’s innovative, super-fresh, and just plain delicious. Whether you’re new to the scene or regularly use phrases like “The esters in this bottle-conditioned ale are extremely quaffable,” we’ve uncovered the best Canadian craft beer for your palate. What a time to be alive, indeed.

The towns we’ve chosen are in no particular order, but we have given them a rating system.

🍺 – The Taps in Town icon rates the number of breweries, brewpubs, or total taps you’ll find. If a spot has just one brewpub, but it has a hundred taps, it can still be rated well.

🏅 – The Praise and Slays icon is for awards. Won multiple gold medals, swept a category, or just plain have a lot of recognition? That city will rate highly in this category.

🦄 – The Creative Spirit rating is awarded for a certain pioneering spirit, whether that’s experimenting with unique ingredients or building a brew scene where there wasn’t one before.

While you’ll see a few of the usual contenders on the list, we’ve tried to find the less well-known destinations for a “beery” good time. After all, if you call yourself a beer lover, we’re sure you’ve heard of Toronto. It’s time to break out your beer phrasebook and brush up on your slang—we’re about to drop some new knowledge on you.

Revelstoke, BC


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄


We’ll start with the obvious: Revelstoke is home to the 2017 Brewery of the Year, Mt. Begbie Brewing Co. Also, it’s got tons of brewpubs, incredible scenery, and a super famous ski resort. Spend a day out on the slopes, then warm up with Mt. Begbie’s perfect apres-ski beers: Cold Smoke, a smoky porter, and Bob’s Your Dunkel, a chocolate-and-spice winter beer that won a gold medal at the BC Brewing Awards. These beers are probably rich enough to be your dinner, but if you want actual food, the mac and cheese at Craft Bierhaus is to die for—as is their tap list, which is loaded with BC breweries.

Lacombe, AB


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


As Alberta has been saying “goodbye” to restrictive liquor laws over the past few years, Lacombe has been saying “hello” to a bustling craft scene. At Blindman Brewing, you’ve got two 2017 CIBA medalists (River Session Ale and Ichorous Imperial Stout) and the latest and greatest sours and saisons on tap. Plus, their hop-shaped chandeliers are amazing. For a bite—and some local pride—with your beer, head to Cilantro & Chive, which has 120 craft beers showcasing Alberta’s flavours. And it’s not just the suds scene that’s great here: Right next door to Blindman, Old Prairie Sentinel Distillery pours drinks with a little more “kick.” We told you Lacombe knew how to party!

Magdalen Islands, L’Étang-du-Nord, QC


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


For those in search of a true adventure, who believe life is about the journey…we have a destination for you. Out in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, on a little archipelago known as the Magdalen Islands, à l’Abri de la Tempête is taking “local” to a whole new level. Mother Nature is the inspiration, with ingredients harvested right from the wild dunes and tempestuous ocean. Beers like Belle Saison, with island-grown flowers, and Corps Mort, made with smoked herring, are sure to tantalize your taste buds. To make those taste buds even happier, enjoy a seaside meal at the quaint Café La Cote. Its location may be small and adorable, but its beer list is impressive.

Halifax, NS


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


It might not surprise you that Halifax, with its legendary maritime history, is home to some truly legendary beers as well. Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale, which is only brewed in this very city, was first created for British soldiers nearly 100 years ago. Garrison Brewing Co. may not have that kind of clout, but it does have a very inventive beer: Spruce Beer, made with, you guessed it, entire spruce branches. Garrison knows how to party, too. They have an Oktoberfest from September 16 to October 3, and on Sept 24, the Halifax Beer Run ends here. The very latest trend, though, is cider, and the first cidery in Halifax just opened: Chain-Yard Urban Cidery. Check ‘em out.

Halton, ON


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄


Everyone knows Toronto is a top dog among beer destinations…or should we say, top hop. But just 40 km south of the city lies the region of Halton, which has some of the most award-winning craft breweries in Ontario. Halton is ready to come out of its big brother’s shadow, and places like Cameron’s Brewing in Oakville prove it. This spot has a variety of award-winning beers that anyone can love: a barleywine, India pale lager, and a cream ale. In Burlington, Nickel Brook has four beers that have won medals, and you’ll definitely want to try the Raspberry Uber Sour ale and the Uncommon Element brett beer, too. You’ll thank us later.

Whitehorse, Yukon


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


If you love your beer made from pure Canadian snowfall and locally grown ingredients, you’ll love Whitehorse. Yukon Brewing was the first craft beer company in the Yukon territory, and their motto doesn’t lie: It’s “Beer worth freezin’ for!” Sure, it’s cold up here, but beers like their multi-award-winning Lead Dog Ale will warm you right up. Lovers of a good motto will find eternal “hoppiness” in Winterlong Brewing’s on-the-nose names like Weekend Warrior IPA and Sweater Weather Oatmeal Stout. Top off all those IBUs with the Yukon Beer Festival in October, and you’ve got a bunch of different ways to warm up in Whitehorse.

Tatamagouche, NS


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


Tatamagouche Oktoberfest is Atlantic Canada’s largest Oktoberfest celebration, and that really says something, considering it takes place in a tiny town on the Northumberland Strait. This year’s festival is on September 22 and 23, and if you call yourself a beer lover, you really can’t miss it. Outside of Oktoberfest season, Tatamagouche Brewery Co.’s organic beers keep this town feeling “hoppy.” Try the North Shore Lagered Ale, which took a bronze medal at the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards, or stock up on Rum-Barrel Aged Dreadnot India Black Ale for the winter ahead—it will definitely have you feeling cozy.

Neepawa, MB


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


It doesn’t get much fresher than growing your very own hops on-site, harvesting them, and putting them directly into your beer—and that’s exactly what Farmery Estate Brewery does. This agri-tourism destination opened in 2012, the first in North America with a brewery and a farm under one roof. The tour is like none other, featuring combines and loads of heavy machinery, but the real highlight, of course, is the beer. Farmery Estate makes five “core” beverages, even including a hard iced tea for the non-beer drinkers in your group (not that you would have any).

Regina, SK


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


Saskatchewan is known as many things, not least of which is the loving nickname “Lentil Country.” It’s true—SK produces most of the world’s lentils, and they’ve certainly embraced that fact, especially over at Rebellion Brewing, which uses local lentils in its unique Lentil Cream Ale. And while you’ve probably heard of Bushwakker, one of the region’s most well-known brewers, did you know they have a once-a-year beer that sells out within hours? Get your hands on their Blackberry Mead this December 2 and really impress your bottle share group. If you’re just looking for a good old-fashioned lager, District Brewing has you covered: they brew four different types of lagers to please your palate.

Yellowknife, NT


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


Yellowknife may only have one brewery, but it’s an impressive one. NWT Brewing Co. is Canada’s northernmost brewery, which is a pretty neat item to check off your beer bucket list (you know you have one). The Woodyard Brewhouse & Eatery is its sister brewpub, serving up all their flagship beers and tasty bites too. The Bug Repellent IPA is one for the hopheads, as it “has enough citrus to keep skeeters at bay.” It pairs great with the charcuterie board and conversations that go deep into the night. The next day, bison poutine at Wild Cat Café and a little hair of the dog will cure any hangover blues.

St. John’s, Newfoundland


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


High five to Newfoundland and Labrador! Why? According to Statistics Canada, they have the highest beer consumption per capita! And they’re not just drinking any old beer. When it comes to sudsy experimentation, St. John’s is synonymous with “innovation.” Example: Quidi Vidi Brewing’s Iceberg Beer is made of 25,000-year-old H20 harvested from actual icebergs. And the folks over at YellowBelly are always foraging about for ingredients like parsnips or even nettles. Their Hard Tack Ale uses leftover bread from next-door neighbour Rocket Bakery to make a delicious brown ale. Now that’s what we call upcycling.

Grande Prairie, AB


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄


There’s nothing like experiencing a local scene at its very beginning, and for that, you need to go to Grande Prairie. Grain Bin Brewing Company is coming up fast with its award-winning Willie the Wit, which won three gold medals at the 2017 Canadian International Beer Awards, including Best of Alberta—yup, the whole province. Grain Bin is all about democracy, too. On their website, you can vote for the hops that will go into their next beer! Across town, GP Brewing Co. has Canadian pride down to a science. They use local water, local barley, and even processing equipment that’s 100% Canadian made—and that’s a science that makes great beer.

Vankleek Hill, ON


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


OK, beer snobs. You may think you’ve tried every possible type of beer, but here’s a new one: gruit. Before hops were popular, there was gruit, a sort of herbal concentrate used to flavour beer. Some recipes date to 800 AD, but don’t worry, they don’t use nightshade anymore. Beau’s Brewery in Vankleek Hill makes the best of the best, and they have the awards to prove it. The most interesting of them all is Bog Water—brewed with bog myrtle, a local shrub. We bet no one else in your beer club has had that before. (Bonus: They have an Oktoberfest, and it is wunderbar!) Once you’ve tried every beer at Beau’s—and you will—make your way to Blueberry Hill Bistro for dinner…and even more local beer from their excellent selection.

Penticton, BC


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


There’s a reason craft beer in British Columbia is famous, and Penticton nails it: Festivals, award-winning breweries, and entrepreneurial spirit. The Fest of Ale in April has been delighting beer geeks since 1995, aging like a fine (barley)wine. It’s all about porters and stouts in this ski town, and several local breweries really cleaned up during the last award season. Bad Tattoo Brewing and Cannery Brewing Co. earned four medals between them, and they’re just a convenient 10-minute walk from each other. Must be something in the water! At Cannery, make sure you order up the Wildfire IPA, and they’ll donate part of the proceeds to support the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation. And while you’re here, don’t forget to support the new kid on the block. In a great beer city like this, Highway 97 Brewing will be winning awards in no time.

Swift Current, SK


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


Somewhere in between Medicine Hat and Regina, just off the Trans-Canada Highway, lies a hidden beer gem that sparkles like a freshly cleaned brew kettle. Black Bridge Brewery got its start in 2014, and it’s already winning awards—the Milk Stout earned a medal at both the 2015 and 2016 Canadian Brewing Awards. Pour a pint and head to the patio; this roasty, toasty dark beer pairs perfectly with that slight autumn chill in the air. Black Bridge has the love of the people behind it, too. Local establishments from Chinook Golf Course to Original Joe’s Bar & Grill have added these supremely drinkable beers to their menus.

Victoria, BC


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays:🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


Victoria is the craft beer city. It’s a well-known OG in the beer scene—and here, that stands for “original growler.” Local fave Spinnakers was Canada’s first brewpub, and the city even has an official tourist attraction called the “Beer Mile.” First up, order the Fat Tug IPA at Driftwood Brewery, which won Beer of the Year at the 2011 Canadian Brewing Awards. Stroll over to Vancouver Island Brewing to check out their newly renovated digs. Then sip on Electric Unicorn IPA at Phillips Brewing—and snap an Insta-worthy pic of the label. End with a meal at Swan’s Brewpub, if you’re still fit to be seen in public. Not enough beer for ya? You’ll have to wait until next September for the Great Canadian Beer Festival, which attracts nearly 5,000 people per day.

Nackawic, NB


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


What’s 15 metres tall and sticks out of the ground like an angry giant put it there? If you said The Big Axe in Nackawic, you win a prize! And that prize is beer. At Big Axe Brewery, Bed & Breakfast, you’ll have beer, food, and hotel all under one roof. Their Maple Wheat Amber Ale, made with maple tapped from their very own trees, is the perfect way to ease into fall. You literally never have to leave the building, but if you’re in town for the Big Axe Craft Beer Festival in July, you’ll definitely want to. The 2017 edition featured breweries from all over eastern Canada and even one from Maine.

Collingwood, ON


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄


Don’t tell Collingwood it’s a small town. It’s got three breweries, and they aren’t just little mom-and-pop shops, either. Collingwood Brewery won two silvers and a bronze at this year’s Canadian Brewing Awards—be sure to put the fall seasonal Vintage Ale on your tasting flight. Take a tour at Side Launch Brewery Company, which was the 2016 Brewery of the Year at the Canadian Brewing Awards. Top it all off with even more beer! Wash down duck fat fries and smoked ribs with small-batch goodness at Northwinds Brewery & Restaurant. Get to Collingwood soon: If you catch the end of the warm weather, you can enjoy the sand between your toes and cold pint in your hand at Wasaga Beach Brewing Co.

Montreal, QC


Taps in Town: 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺 🍺

Praise and Slays: 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅 🏅

Creative Spirit: 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄 🦄


Did you think we wouldn’t include the home of Canada’s largest beerfest? Think again! It’s true that Mondial de la Biere features more than 100 participants, but the real stars are the hometown breweries. Local favourite Brasseurs Sans Gluten swept the “gluten-free beer” category at the 2012 World Beer Cup and took gold and silver in 2016. This incredible beer city wins awards for its gastropub scene, too—or at least it should. Take your pick of more than 20 hyper-local (read: Quebec-made) beers at Boswell Brasserie Artisanale, a new spot in the Plataeau neighbourhood. Or, tour the trendy Mile-Ex neighbourhood, from the well-known Vices & Versa to the pioneering Brasserie Harricana, which uses the cutting-edge Flux Capacitor tap system. Sound far out? You’re right.

You’ve reached the end of our list, fellow beer aficionado, but this list is only the beginning—Canada’s best beer cities are always growing and changing. There are incredible things happening in our brew scene, and from gruit beer to barrel-aged sours, you can always find something new to explore. Where will you go next?

See this article in French here.

Trouvez cet article en Français ici.


Photo Credits:

Revelstoke
Left: Mt. Begbie Brewing Co.
Top Right: Adventure J via Trover.com
Bottom Right: Yelp/Maddy R.

Lacombe
Top Left: Yelp/Rieley K.
Bottom Left: Blindman Brewing
Right: Blindman Brewing

Magdalen Islands
Top Left: Yelp/Marie-Édith V.

Halifax
Left and Bottom Right: Yelp/Alexander Keith’s Brewery

Halton
Top Left and Bottom Left: Yelp/Nickel Brook Brewery
Right: Timezones via Trover.com

Whitehorse
Bottom Left: Yukon Brewing

Tatamagouche
Left: Yelp/A H.
Top Right: Yelp/Kat M.
Bottom Right: Flickr/Leonora (Ellie) Enking

Neepawa
All: Farmery Estate Brewery

Regina
Left: Yelp/Gary S.
Top Right: Yelp/Martina B.
Bottom Left: Brittany Herriot via Trover.com

Yellowknife
Top Left: Yelp/Miranda S.
Bottom Left: Flickr/Wes Gill

St. John’s
Top Left: Yelp/Quidi Vidi Brewery
Bottom Left: Nancy White via Trover.com
Right: Kathiroadtrippingnewfoundland via Trover.com

Grande Prairie
Top Left: Facebook/Grain Bin Brewing Company

Vankleek Hill
Left: Yelp/Jennifer K.
Top right: Yelp/Tony Kangrui L.
Bottom Right: Yelp/Valerie C.

Penticton
Top Left: Yelp/Cannery Brewing
Bottom Left:
Right:
Flickr/Kyle Pearce

Swift Current
All: Black Bridge Brewery

Victoria
Left: Yelp/Spinnakers B.
Top Right: Yelp/Spinnakers B.
Bottom Right: IUJSOM97 via Trover.com

Nackawic
All: Big Axe Brewery

Collingwood
Top Left: Lyca-Gypsy via Trover.com
Bottom Left: Yelp/Michael F.

Montreal
Bottom Left: Yelp/Itien L.
Right: Yelp/Diena M.

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About Author

Carolyn Albee

Carolyn Albee is a lover of writing, dogs, and new cities—not necessarily in that order. When she’s not on a mission to find the best late-night snacks in those new cities, she’s off writing about why you should visit them, or doing some exploring of a different kind: Taking to the hills with her dog, Markus.

6 Comments

  1. Great list but you missed Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON!
    Oast House, Silversmith, The Exchange & Niagara College Teaching Brewery in a town of approx 15,000. As most now know, no longer just a winery destination.

    Reply

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