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Canada Day

The Top Canadian Beers You've Never Had
Features June 29, 2002      
Written by Oakes

Kelowna, CANADA -

July 1st is Canada Day. In order to celebrate properly there are few things you must do. The first is to wake up at five in the morning to take your kid to hockey practice (yes, in July), with a quick stop at Tim Horton's along the way. Then you'll want some maple pancakes for breakfast, accompanied with some more Tim's coffee (you'll need at least two cups to avoid dragging down the per capita average).<P>After your lunch of poutine and a back bacon sandwich, you'll want to hit the golf course for a round before settling down for an evening of Kraft Dinner and Jeopardy! Now you've warmed up and are ready for the truest Canadian tradition of all - beer drinking. Proud and enthusiastic beer-drinkers we are. From Victoria to St. John's, from Windsor to Iqaluit, no matter if you're English, French, Cree, or fresh off the boat with immigration papers in hand, beer drinking is one of the few things to unite all Canadians.<P>So in honour (not "honor", which isn't even a word) of Canada Day and our enthusiastic beer drinkers from coast to coast to coast, I present the Ten Best Canadian Beers You've Never Had:<h4>1. Spinnaker's ESB (Victoria, BC)</h4>The British never really left Victoria, and it shows. From afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel, to North America's only full-time CAMRA chapter, the old country lives on in a big way. Case in point - the hoppy, earthy, fruity ESB served from the cask at Canada's oldest brewpub (c.1984). Rivals Landlord, Pedigree and cask Fuller's. <h4>2. Seigneuriale Réserve (Boucherville, QC)</h4>A tremendously flowery, complex dubbel, similar to New Belgium's but with more zip and a richer malt profile. Since being taken over by macrobrewer Sleeman, this beer's future has been in some doubt. Currently, five-year-old vintage bottles are floating around, so who knows when this beer will disappear for good. Enjoy it while you can.<h4>3. Sailor Hägar's Wit (North Vancouver, BC)</h4>Gary Lohin has always made top-notch beers at his mediocre neighbourhood pub, and this is the standout. Malty, hoppy, just packed with flavour. The kind of wit that converts people who don't like wits.<h4>4. L'Inox Viking (Quebec City, QC)</h4>A cranberry witbier with honey, the beauty of this beer is that every ingredient makes it presence felt at some point in the brew. It does not require intense palate conditioning to break this beer down into its component parts. Everybody who goes to L'Inox says this beer is the best one there, and when was the last time you heard that about a fruit beer?<h4>5. Fat Cat Porter (Nanaimo, BC)</h4>Easily the best porter in the country, this rivals Fuller's and Sierra Nevada for its complex maltiness - coffee, chocolate, thick cream, shortbread...wonderful. The brewery does not distribute widely, and does not bottle, but the effort taken to locate this porter will pay off big time.<h4>6. Granite Best Bitter Special (Toronto, ON & Halifax, NS)</h4> There are three Granites now, with two in Halifax, and this venerable brewing institution has been making serious English-style ales of some renown for over a decade. The cask-conditioned, dry-hopped Best Bitter Special is a juicy, thoroughly refreshing pint which, contrary to most Ontario cask beers, is always in impeccable condition.<h4>7. Garrison Barrack Street Brown (Halifax, NS)</h4>Within six months of its launch, Barrack Street Brown had rounded into brilliant form - rich, slightly smokey, and with a full body. I'm not a huge brown ale drinkers, but this was my regular pint during my last few months in Halifax. <h4>8. Scotch Irish - Sgt. Major's IPA (Ottawa, ON)</h4>Despite its hometown, the beer is sold mostly in Toronto and Hamilton (the Winking Judge is the only place to have it on cask regularly). Richly hoppy in the American tradition, with a resiny stickiness and solid malt base. In Seattle it would be just another IPA, but here it's nectar.<h4>9. Dieu du Ciel! Charbonnière (Montreal, QC)</h4>The Plateau was already a great neighbourhood in which to experience a Montreal weekend before this brewpub opened. The dark pub offers a widely rotating list of specialties, the most successful of which is their smoked ale. I'm always a sucker for big smoke, but this is very well-balanced and unique in a world of rauchbier and smoked porter.<h4>10. Yaletown Hefeweizen (Vancouver, BC)</h4>Throughout the late-90's, this beer got better every summer. Having already raved about Denison's killer Weizenbier before, I thought I would give props out to this balanced, sweet, fruity weizen, loaded with banana, and so good you'll hardly notice the mob of yuppies surrounding you at this ultra-hip brewpub.


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