Ontario, a mature oasis of craft brewing. Saskatchewan, with more brewpubs per capita than perhaps anywhere else in North America. Manitoba, a craft beer market still in its infancy.
Welcome to central Canadian brewing, a mixed bag of style devotees, practical entrepreneurs and thirsty beer aficionados. Here you’ll find a bit of everything, up to and including some of the country’s best brewpubs (Bushwakker and the Granite, although the latter is now technically a microbrewery), craft breweries (King and Mill Street), contract brewers (Scotch Irish), beer bars (the Freehouse group and the venerable C’est What?) and one of the continent’s only true beer cuisine restaurants (beerbistro, in which I am proud to say I am a partner).
In southern Ontario, twenty years of craft brewing ebb and flow has left a paucity of brewpubs, but a good number of fine breweries, many of them draught-only operations serving the country’s largest community of beer bars. Saskatchewan’s impressive brewpub scene has been fuelled by offsale licenses that accompany the brewpub permits, which has resulted in a bit of a “chain” mentality in many of the operations. And then there is Canada’s laggard province in terms of craft beer, Manitoba, although even here things are starting to look up.
Unless you have a stellar constitution and a sturdy automobile, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to visit all of the beer hotspots identified here during the course of a single or even two or three trips. But one thing is almost certain wherever you do go, and that’s a wide range of attitudes, approaches to brewing and, of course, beers. And isn’t that what beer touring is really all about?
- Stephen Beaumont, leading international beer writer and author
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Size opened: 20 x 24 inches (51 cm x 61 cm)
Size folded: 4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches (11cm x 17 cm)
Province(s) or State(s):
Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan (MB, ON, SK)
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