10 Must-Visit Canadian Brewpubs
Celebrate our country’s thriving beer scene by quaffing a flight at one of these top establishments.
1. Bellwoods – Toronto, Ontario
Among the city’s favourite patios, this downtown microbrewery in Toronto’s hip Ossington neighbourhood has seen packed tables since its opening in 2012. A frequently changing menu incorporates seasonal elements in both the beer and the food, and cooperation with other local businesses results in some tasty collaborations: beer from popular restaurant Woodlot served at the restaurant, and the brewery’s stout made into ice cream at nearby bakery Bakerbots.
(Photo: Courtesy of Bellwoods)
2. Le Saint-Pub – Baie-St-Paul, Quebec
Not far from popular ski hill Le Massif, Le Saint-Pub has been a fixture in the Charlevoix region since its opening in 1998 alongside affiliated brewery Microbrasserie Charlevoix, which now handles increased demand – its bottles are sold across the province, in western Canada and even into the US – at an offsite location, though the original brewing room is still in use: on our visit, it was hosting several whisky kegs for experiments in barrel aging. Order a “palette” – a set of tasting glasses – to try what they’ve got on tap, and enjoy alongside a menu packed with dishes making excellent use of local food products and, naturally, beer.
(Photo: Courtesy of Le Saint-Pub)
3. Spinnakers – Victoria, British Columbia
Canada’s oldest brewpub – it’s been around for decades – sits on Victoria’s Inner Harbour and offers a broad selection of brews in bottles, growlers, cans and on tap. Besides the standards, come by for a pint of the daily cask, using local ingredients such as Silk Road tea, or seasonal selections such as the saison pêche, made with Okanagan peaches. Consider bringing home a bottle of their made-on-site malt vinegar.
(Photo: Courtesy of Flickr/John Bollwitt)
4. Yellowbelly – St. John’s, Newfoundland
Located in a historical 19th century building and named after a local tale involving the city’s Irish immigrants, Yellowbelly is a busy place – be sure to make reservations so you don’t miss your chance to sample the well-reviewed lineup of beers brewed on premises. As for food, menu items include wood-fired pizza, burgers, salads and fish and chips, but the most popular pick might be the mussels steamed in pale ale with sea salt – reputedly a huge portion, so bring plenty of friends.
(Photo: Courtesy of Flickr/jessica)
5. Le Trou du Diable – Shawinigan, Quebec
Named in reference to a “cauldron” in the local waterfalls that folklore has it leads straight to hell, Le Trou du Diable – “the hole of the devil” – overflows in summer with visitors and locals seeking a taste of its selection of beers on tap, available in a four-glass tasting palette. Popular local-inspired brews have included La Shawinigan Handshake, an homage to the city’s most famous export, former prime minister Jean Chrétien, and his infamous (and oft criticized) chokehold against an anti-poverty protester in 1996.
(Photo: Courtesy of Trou du Diable)
6. Bushwakker Brewpub – Regina, Saskatchewan
This Regina institution makes its way onto plenty of best-of lists both for its vibe – it’s located on the main floor of a restored warehouse – and for its beer selection, with nine year-round standards, a specialty mead and 20 seasonal brews. The food menu includes several selections made with beer: try the Saskatchewan hot plate, a platter including house-made cabbage rolls, perogies and beer bread; shepherd’s pie with porter-marinated beef; and for dessert, chocolate stout cake.
(Photo: Courtesy of Bushwakker Brewpub)
7. The Gahan House – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Named after the prominent 19th century local merchant in whose former home it’s located, the Gahan House is Prince Edward Island’s only brewery as well as a favourite restaurant among Charlottetown locals. Popular menu picks include the seafood chowder, bacon-wrapped scallops and the “brown bag” fish and chips; seven draught beers are available from a pint down to a sample tray. Book ahead for a tour of the brewery, which will also include samples.
(Photo: Courtesy of The Gahan House)
8. The Grizzly Paw – Canmore, Alberta
With its prized view of the city’s famous Three Sisters mountain range, you’ll have trouble keeping your eyes on the menu (let alone finding a seat) at this popular Canmore restaurant. Menu items come with recommended beer pairings – the chicken quesadilla, say, with Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat, or the chocolate cake with Moose Knuckle Coffee Stout – though indecisive beer lovers are welcome to sample a taster set instead. Nondrinkers might want to try one of the company’s six sodas, all on tap.
(Photo: Courtesy of The Grizzly Paw)
9. Rockbottom – Halifax, Nova Scotia
Known locally for its popular trivia Tuesdays, Rockbottom is friendly and intimate with an expansive menu of pub favourites like gourmet burgers and fish and chips made from beer-battered Atlantic haddock. Beer is brewed on-site and includes everyday stouts and ales as well as seasonal creations. Every Saturday at noon, pull up a bar stool as the brewmaster cracks open the weekly experimental firkin – that’s a small cask that holds about 41 litres – for everyone to taste. Get there early – it’s been known to run out in as little as three hours.
(Photo: Courtesy of Rockbottom)
10. The Pump House – Moncton, New Brunswick
A downtown Moncton fixture since 1999 – it boasts of “brewing since the last century” – The Pump House outgrew its in-house brewing capabilities within just a few years and now ships bottles across much of Canada from an offsite brewing plant. But back at the original location, drop by to sample the East coast cuisine – think classic pub fare plus fresh oysters, beer-steamed mussels and a salmon sandwich – plus the range of award-winning beer, including the intriguing and top-selling blueberry ale.
(Photo: Courtesy of The Pump House)