Here in Ontario, a lot of the beer that is available to us is controlled by the LCBO (THIS IS CHANGING DUE TO CRAFT BREWERY BOTTLE SHOPS, WOO!). This limits what I can drink, however there are many gems to try and this will serve as an updated list of what is good. Buy it.
Year-round: buy this any time.
- St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout: those who know me well might recognize this as the beer that got me into craft beer way back when. It’s a densely flavourful toasty stout with notes of coffee, chocolate and tobacco. It’s complete decadence when paired with Greg’s Roasted Marshmallow ice cream.
- Anything from Great Lakes Brewery (GLB). Canuck is a good standby, and pretty widely available.
- Sawdust City’s Golden Beach Pale Ale is the perfect 4.5% fruity summer IPA. Get this, or any of their other offerings, while you can!
- Goose Island’s Sofie and Matilda. Both are Belgian style and sophisticated. For $10 a pop, these wine sized bottles will impress any guest. Bring them to a dinner party.
- Nickel Brook Headstock IPA comes in newly designed guitar themed cans! This is a classic American style hoppy IPA, but it’s incredibly smooth and at 7%, is a dangerously drinkable summer (and fall) beer.
- If you’d like to expand your palette with a sour fruity beer, Mort Subite Kriek Lambic is a good place to start: it tastes like a sophisticated sour cherry roll-up candy.
- Black Oak Brewing’s 5% offerings are really good with food. Try the balanced British style Pale Ale and Nut Brown Ale. Serve well chilled.
- Any saison: this fruity farmhouse style is the champagne of beer. I have found that they are universally well loved and hard to screw up.
- Any of these beers from our beer and cheese tasting. Ideally consumed with cheeses.
Buy this if you see it:
- Orval Trappist Ale is a slightly sour Belgian beer that gets better (i.e. funkier and more refined) with age. If you see these cute little brown bottles with purple labels depicting a fish with a ring in it’s mouth, buy some, try it, age it. This is the definition of a classic beer.
- Houblon Chouffe is a 9% Tripel IPA that tastes more fruity than hoppy: lots of banana fruity flavour comes through from the Belgian yeast.
- Anything from Dieu du Ciel!, my favourite Montreal microbrewery, brought to Toronto by Bar Volo’s Keep6 Imports.
- Anything from Trou Du Diable, another Quebec craft brewery imported by Keep6.
- Rodenbach. Deeply delicious berry balsamic sour barrel aged goodness. Like Orval, this will get better with age.