Top Ten Ontario Craft Beers

Monday, November 5, 2012

  • Here's to craft beer.

    Here's to craft beer.

Written by Abigel Lemak

Craft beer has become increasingly central to Canadian beer culture over the past thirty years and is only growing in popularity. Beer culture has become a integral part of most Canadian identities, despite major beer companies like Labatt, Molson and Sleeman that, although no longer Canadian owned, are still marketed as “canadian” beer. 

I understand craft beer as not only an attempt to refine and experiment with taste, but also as a form of resistance to corporate markets. Besides all of that, it just simply tastes GOOD.

Yes, enjoying a craft beer at a frosh party is often understood as pretentious. Especially if you’re that student playing flip cup with La Fin Du Monde and making fun of someone for drinking PBR. Side note: You’re not a bad person for liking craft beers, you’re a jerk for making fun of another’s beer choice. I’ve been there, and it’s definitely not cool (although fun). 

So, let’s rethink craft beers not as a medium with which to demonstrate ones pompous arrogance and pseudo-class, but as a medium that showcases the passion and talent of Ontario brewers as they work to entertain your senses. 

So why has drinking beer become this disgusting social activity we do in mass quantities? “Because, Abi, sometimes we just want to get wasted.” 

Right. Well, for those other times, here are some of my favourites.

1. Boneshaker IPA (Ale) --Amsterdam Brewing Company

This one’s an unfiltered I.P.A. that totally rocks my world. It’s got that deep hoppy flavour with some subtle citrus to just cut the heaviness and balance it out. It’s still a whole lot of beer to behold, and not for the faint of hoppy heart. I especially enjoy this during the fall-winter seasons, ‘cause baby, it's cold outside. 

2.Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale Ale (Ale) --Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery

If the name didn’t give it away, this beer is hoppier than a mother-hopping hop. It also smells wonderful and citrusy, described as grapefruit, but don’t expect any of that to translate to how it tastes. You get a re-emerging acidity while you’re drinking this beer, never forgetting about the hoppiness. 

3. Smashbomb Atomic IPA (Ale) --Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery

Alright, this one’s a cool one. The Citra hop variety used in this beer gives it an amazing passion fruit aroma and subtle tropical fruit flavour. For the first few moments you’re in a citrus paradise and then wha-bam, the hops hit you in the face and you remember that you’re drinking an awesome Flying Monkeys IPA.  

4. Mill Street Cobblestone Stout (Stout) --Mill Street Brewery

This is the only stout on the list (a lot of great ones have been omitted) but I just have to let you all know why I love this beer. For all those chocolate lovers out there, hear me when I say that this will satisfy some --chocolate cravings are endless-- of your needs. It’s heavier on the tongue (like most stouts) and has a wonderful velvety texture where the roasted malt flavour just comes right out. When snow hits the fan this winter, go ahead and enjoy this one on tap, it’ll cheer you right up. 

5. Mill Street Original Organic Lager (Lager) --Mill Street Brewery

This a wonderfully light beer, a favourite beer of mine to enjoy during the summer. It’s incredibly crisp and clean tasting, with virtually no aftertaste left. And it’s supposed to be organic, whatever that means. 

6. Mill Street Tankhouse Ale (Ale) --Mill Street Brewery

This is another great Ale that just gives you that woody aroma and warmth you sometimes crave on a rainy day. Have I set the mood? 

7. Mill Street Stock Ale (Ale) --Mill Street Brewery

This seems to be one of those all-occasion drinking beers. It’s light but not too light, and it’s got that malty flavour without being too heavy and that slight bitter aftertaste. 

8. Mad Tom IPA (Ale) --Muskoka Brewery

Some people are mad for this Mad Tom IPA, and I can understand why. This to me seems like the quintessential camping beer, soothing the presence of any and all blood-sucking pests. The kind of hops they use lends itself to a bright hoppy flavour, with a classic citrus note that carries you all the way through. 

9. Beau’s Lug Tread Lagered Ale (Ale) --Beau’s All Natural Brewery

Beau’s Lug Tread is another one of those tried and true beers that everyone just seems to love, and for good reason. It’s meant to be a tribute beer to Cologne, Germany, which means that Beau’s went for that authentic crisp lager and didn’t skimp on the ingredients. Like all their beer, they do the whole organic, all natural, local thing. Pretty cool if you ask me. 

10. Arkell Best Bitter (Ale) --Wellington Brewery

I’ve heard that this is simply the best beer ever. Truth be told I haven’t tried it yet, but if it’s as warm, nutty and well-balanced as the literature promises then I’m all for it. [Editor's Note: it is my contention, this beer should have been number 1. But this was a democratic list.--Ed.]

To re-cap. This is not the stuff to get slosh-face drunk off of people --and who can afford that anyhow? It’s an absolute pleasure and privilege to be able to get together with friends and have a drink, and these beers are meant to be enjoyed. I am by no means an expert on craft beer (although I love to pretend). 

The best part about drinking these craft beers is that you don’t need to do anything other than take a sip and go, “Hot damn, this is some good Canadian beer.”

So, what are your favourite Ontario craft beers? 


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