Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 23, 2017

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Grab a cold one

Canada's best microbreweries express our nation's terroir, from coast to thirsty coast

Let's face it: Canada is a beer-swilling nation. Bob and Doug McKenzie, the comedic Second City siblings, personified our penchant for tossing back a cool one on a hot day. Perhaps it's our British roots or a reflection of our northern terroir -- after all, Western Canada is one of the best places in the world to grow the six-row malting barley that goes into a great beer. But we've come a long way from Bob and Doug's two-fours of stubby brown bottles.

Our love affair with suds has birthed a new generation of beer aficionados, and some truly fine brewmasters who make their natural, unpasteurized "real beer" with nothing more than water, malted barley, yeast and hops. You'll find them brewing up regional ales with character and style at microbreweries and brewpubs, coast to thirsty coast.

St. John's, NL

YellowBelly Brewery & Public House
Five floors of historic ambiance in downtown St. John's make the location of this new brewpub almost as impressive as the Fighting Irish Red Ale, quaffed with a burger or plate of crispy fried cod. yellowbellybrewery.com.

Halifax, NS

Hart & Thistle Gastropub and Brewery
Set on the historic waterfront, with a 200-seat seaside patio (and a fireplace in winter), this brewpub pumps an ever-changing selection of limited-run ales. The decor might be a bit bland, but what's in the glass definitely isn't -- like their Blackhook Prime, a smoked Baltic Porter or Kryptonite, a Sab Diego style DIPA. The menu is pub fare gone high end: like hand-cut sea-salted PEI russets with red pepper chèvre dip or a lobster roll served with lemon tarragon aioli. hartandthistle.com.

Saint John, NB

Big Tide
Expectations are high for this year-old brewpub: their female brewmaster previously won a Gold Medal at the World Beer Cup. Try their uncommonly smooth India Beech Nut Brown, made with local organic hops, or on a hot day, order a pint of their light and refreshing Fogbound Hemp Pale Ale. The menu here pairs modern versions of British pub food with classic North American happy hour staples, like wings and nachos. bigtidebrew.com.

Montréal, QC

Dieu du Ciel!
This Montréal brewpub and microbrewery is famed for its Pagan Blonde Ale, Horn of the Devil IPA, Last Will, Rigor Mortis ABT and Paradise white beer... getting the theme here? End it all with its dessert-style Aphrodisiac cocoa and vanilla-infused stout. dieuduciel.com.

Toronto, ON

Mill Street Brewpub
Toronto's historic Distillery District is home to this popular brewpub, named Canadian Brewery of the Year for two years running. Imagine what this original Gooderham & Worts tankhouse might have looked like when it was distilling whiskey here a century ago, while sipping the house Original Organic Lager or famed Tankhouse Pale Ale, alongside a feast of Beer-b-Que ribs. millstreetbrewpub.ca.

Regina, SK

Bushwakker Brewpub
Bushwakker's is a Regina institution, set in the city's Warehouse District. The Bushwakker logo — complete with Canada Goose — is an original Joe Fafard, and the local artist still pops in for a pint of Stubblejumper Pilsner or a blackberry mead, made with Lumsden Valley honey. Pair either with the brewpub's pizza, burgers or Saskatchewan-style starters (perogies or cabbage rolls, anyone?). bushwakker.com.

Calgary, AB

Wild Rose Brewery & Taproom
This brewery's current digs are in an old army Quonset building across from the popular Calgary Farmer's Market. Take home a "party pig," filled with a favourite like Velvet Fog or pair a coppery Wild Rose IPA with locally made pfefferwurst sausage, served with baked beans, sauerkraut and apple-braised cabbage. wildrosebrewery.com.

Jasper, AB

Jasper Brewing Company
Kick off your ski boots or dump your mountain bike and try a signature Rockhopper IPA or Liftline Cream Ale, made with real glacial water and served with creative alpine fare: stout and chocolate sirloin made with Alberta beef, baked gnocchi with chorizo and a rosemary polenta tower. jasperbrewingco.ca.

Vancouver, BC

Yaletown Brewing Company
Brewpubs and old warehouse districts are made for each other, and Yaletown Brewing is a popular gathering place in this enclave of trendy loft living. It's perhaps the only pub to pair its house-made brews with Singapore Street noodles, Sweet Yellow curry or Ma Po tofu, but it works. markjamesgroup.com/yaletown.html.

Victoria, BC

Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub
Canada's oldest brewpub is one of the nicest places in the city to enjoy locally inspired cuisine. Try the wild salmon fish 'n chips (served with the house-made malt vinegar) or an AAA steak, paired with a beefy Tsarist Imperial Stout. This pioneering pub, located on the harbour, also operates a lovely guesthouse. www.spinnakers.com.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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