10 of the best craft breweries to explore in Canada

Craft beer
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It’s no surprise that Canadians love their beer. In fact, we drink an average of 80 L per person, annually. But we’re not just consumers, we’re the creators of some mouth-watering beers, too. That’s why it’s worth adding a brewery tour to your next domestic getaway—to not only taste Canadian brewmasters’ incredible creations, but to also see the process behind it.

The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company – Canmore, Alberta

Located just minutes from Banff National Park, and surrounded by the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Canmore is a truly beautiful spot, and the Grizzly Paw brewery is the perfect place to take in the surrounding scenery. From light bodied pilsners, malty nut browns, or the sweeter raspberry ale, the brewery offers a wide array of beers made with fresh mountain water. Book a tour of the 20,000 sq.ft. facility to learn all about the art of the craft, and bring the kids along to taste some of their caffeine-free handcrafted sodas. More info: www.thegrizzlypaw.com

Muskoka Brewery – Muskoka, Ontario

Nestled in the heart of Ontario cottage country, Muskoka Brewery prides itself on the freshness of products, the purity of ingredients, and its independence as a Canadian-owned company. Since their original, now signature 1996 brew, Muskoka Cream Ale—which remains a favourite in the Muskoka region—they’ve added a number of interesting flavours to the mix. From hoppy IPAs, chocolate raspberry stouts, lighter summer ales, and darker winter stouts, there’s a taste for everyone and tours of the brewery are available every weekend. More info: www.muskokabrewery.com

Garrison Brewery – Halifax, Nova Scotia

Located in the Halifax Seaport District, Garrison Brewery introduced the craft beer movement to Nova Scotians in 1997, with its now signature Irish Red Ale. Built in 1929, the building is visually stunning with its exposed brick walls, beautiful hardwood ceilings, iron beams, and high windows. Booking a tour will give you both an insight into the history of the brewery and a sampling of their delicious beers. Including ambers, IPAs, nut browns, and raspberry wheats, there is something for everyone to enjoy. More info: www.garrisonbrewing.com

Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. – St. John’s, Newfoundland

The small fishing village of Quidi Vidi is located at the mouth of the harbor, just a short drive from downtown St. John’s. Quidi Vidi Brewing Co., housed in the former Cabot Seafood’s fish plant, has a distinctive ingredient—iceberg water harvested from icebergs that drift off the coast of Newfoundland, which spawned the creation of one of their renowned iceberg beer, “a gently hopped, light-bodied brew offering a clean, sparkling finish, crisp with no aftertaste.” You can try this one, along with a bunch of other award-winning brews on their guided tour. You’ll also learn the step-by-step process behind each delicious batch. More info: www.quidividibrewery.ca

Yukon Brewing – Whitehorse, Yukon

What started as an ambitious idea around a campfire on a canoe trip nearly two decades ago has grown into an award-winning brewery and one of the only suppliers of beer to the Canadian North. Formerly known as Chilkoot Brewing, the brewery, owned by two native Ontarians, gives daily tours explaining the brewing, fermentation, filtering, and packaging components with a stop off in the sampling room, where you can get a taste of any and all of their eight signature brews. And the best part is that all proceeds from the tours go to local charities. More info: www.yukonbeer.com

Church-Key Brewing – Campbellford, Ontario

Housed in an 1878 Methodist Church, this charming brewery is located in a small community of about 3,500 people in Northumberland County, halfway between Toronto and Ottawa. With nearly 15 years in the business, Church-Key has expanded its distribution to licensees and LCBOs from Cornwall to London. The brewery offers daily $5 tours, and while there is much to learn about the brew process, there is a special focus on the company’s green initiatives here. At the end of the tour you can enjoy some of the brews and a bite at their pub, The Stinking Rose. More info: www.churchkeybrewing.com

Half Pints Brewing Company – Winnipeg, Manitoba

Visitors are always welcome to tour the Half Pints brewery, and the brewers are fans of trading their creations for a local craft beer from your hometown, so be sure to come prepared. Some delicious choices to consider include four flagship beers with interesting names like Stir Stick Stout and Bulldog Amber Ale. A few seasonal gems are also in rotation, like their quirky, rainbow-labelled Queer Beer, made exclusively for the Pride Winnipeg Festival. More info: www.halfpintsbrewing.com

Paddock Wood Brewing Co. – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

When Ontarian Steve Cavan, along with his wife, moved to Saskatchewan in 1992, he encountered a big problem – there was no craft beer. The solution, he thought, was to do it himself, thus starting Saskatchewan’s first microbrewery and Canada’s indie beer. After more than two decades in the business, Paddock Wood’s pure brews can be found bottled and on-tap in some of the finest independent establishments and beer stores in Western Canada. More info: www.paddockwood.com

Driftwood Brewery – Victoria, B.C.

The newer kid on the block is Victoria’s Driftwood brewery, a project that began to develop in 2008 with a pack of ambitious pals. As soon as they built a space for their brews, they hit the ground running and have stayed busy with orders since that day. But already the brewer has become a sought-after brand, ever since Driftwood’s Fat Tug IPA was named Beer of the Year at the 2011 Canadian Brewing Awards. While the team is busy bottling, filling kegs and brewing beautiful, hop & malt liquids, the brewery tours will be available in the near future. More info: www.driftwoodbeer.com

McAuslan Brewing – Montreal, Quebec

Located in Montreal’s St. Henri district, McAuslan, which began brewing its beer in 1989, was the first microbrewery to offer its product in bottles. The first beer they launched, the St-Ambroise Pale Ale was as much of a hit then as it is now. McAuslan has since launched many more innovative flavours, with four seasonal favourites: Apricot Wheat Ale, brewed in the spring; Raspberry Ale, available during the summer months; Spiced Pumpkin Ale for the fall; and Strong Ale, for the winter. Tours of the brewery will open again in spring, 2014. More info: www.mcauslan.com