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  • Writer's pictureCalgary Brewery Tour Guy

Who Are The Best Breweries in Each Province Across Canada for 2023.

Updated: Jun 20



a collection of all the flags in Canada for each of the best breweries in each Canadian province for 2023

Every year, thousands of breweries around the world enter into local, regional, national and international beer competitions to see how their brews stack up against their peers. Not every brewery enters into competitions, but for those who do, there is nothing better than hearing their name being called to the podium to collect an award. 


In Canada, there are two major national beer competitions that brewers can submit entries into. The first is the Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference which is organised by Taps Media, an American company with operations in Canada, and the other is the Canada Beer Cup which is put on by the Canadian Craft Brewers Association and which just saw its second annual ceremony take place in Niagara Falls at the end of October 2023. It was hosted and led by renowned author and judge Stephen Beaumont.


From coast to coast Canada has well over 1,000 breweries all producing their versions of varying beer styles with dedication, passion and creativity. While the latest trends leaned towards hazy IPAs and sours, for a long time brewers have been crafting the styles that started it all. Beer’s modern roots stem from Europe, specifically the UK, Germany and Czech Republic and most of the brews we drink today are offshoots of styles made famous in those regions hundreds of years ago. 


At any beer award ceremony, organisers list a series of categories that breweries can enter into. Groups like Czech lagers, Stouts and American Style Ales can be found at most, while some get creative and make unique classes for ‘Canadian Ingredients Only’ or, ‘Experimental Beer’.


Across Canada, and aside from national ceremonies, there are numerous local home brew clubs that have their own smaller awards. There are provincial competitions such as the BC Beer Awards, the Alberta Beer Awards and the Ontario Beer Awards for breweries in those regions.  Manitoba and Sakatchewan share the Prairie Beer Awards with Alberta, while the remaining provinces are not represented by a large regional competition. This means that events like the Canada Beer Cup and CBAC are the only real avenues by which these brewers can get their name, and their beers,  out to the rest of the country. 


On a larger scale there are also world beer awards that Canadian brewers can enter. The most prestigious is the World Beer Cup which is organised by the Brewers Association and is set to have its 2024 award ceremony in Las Vegas on April 24. The other is the World Beer Awards which are put on by thedrinksreport.com, an online resource for all things fermented.


Although the Canada Beer Cup and the Canadian Brewing Awards both pick a ‘best in show’ (A.K.A. best beer in Canada), only the CBAC names an official Canadian brewery of the year. In 2023, that honour went to Muddy York Brewing Co. of Toronto who picked up two CBAC golds for their German Style Wheat and Smoked beer.


In order to determine who the overall best breweries in Canada are, we have combined the results from the 2023 Canadian Brewing Awards and the 2023 Canada Beer Cup but have not included any regional results as not every province has their own awards.  


All the beers entered into these contests are evaluated by a panel of certified beer judges who have not only passed several difficult tests and exams to get to the level they are at, but have dedicated their time to learn everything they can about beer. The evaluations are done blindly so that no judge knows what beer came from where. They simply sit at a table of beer and begin sniffing, looking at and tasting each beer one category at a time. They then assign points on the beer for aroma, appearance, flavour, mouthfeel and overall impression. Each beer style will have different traits that the beer should exhibit to be classified under the particular category it is entered into. Without going too deep, in a nutshell,  wheat beers should contain wheat and IPAs should contain hops.    


Without further ado, YYCTOURS has compiled this list of the best breweries in Canada by each province to determine the best overall brewery in each region, the best overall brewery in Canada and the best overall beer in Canada for 2023. 


Although Nunavut and Northwest Territories did not have beers take medals, or did not enter these competitions, each of these territories does have a brewery. Nunavut Brewing Company is located in Iqaluit and the NWT Brewing Company is in Yellowknife.  



Canada’s Best Breweries by Province/Territory. 


YUKON


Flag of Yukon with Yukon brewery logo the best brewery in the Yukon for 2023

Although the Yukon doesn't have many breweries, five to be exact. That does not mean that they do not make some great beers. In fact, Yukon Brewing has been crafting award winning beer in Whitehorse since 1997! At this year's Canada Beer Cup in Niagara Falls,  Yukon Brewing were awarded a silver for their Rye IPA in the IPA of 6.1% ABV or Higher category and a silver for their Lead Dog Ale in the English Style Old Ale class.



NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

 


flag of newfoundland with secret cover brewing logo who is teh best brewery in newfoundland in 2023


Located on the western coast of Newfoundland in Port au Port, is Secret Cove Brewing who took home three medals at the 2023 Canadian Brewing Awards, making them the winningest brewery in NL. A gold in the North American Style Blonde or Golden Ale category for James Blonde 00709, silver for Red Vinyl under Irish and Scotch Ales and bronze for The Great Auk in American Style Imperial India Pale Ale. 


Secret Cove Brewing pumps out almost 50 seasonal beers a year, and in a town with a population of under 1,000 everyone must be drinking here. Got to love Newfoundland! Secret Cove is about 10 minutes away from Stephenville and a beautiful drive along highway 460.


Secret Cove also offers up a rotating food menu, so if you are out travelling in Newfoundland and Labrador,  be sure to include Secret Cove on your trip. 


PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND


flag of prince edward island with logo for Lone oak brewing the best brewery in PEI for 2023


With only 10 local breweries in PEI, impressively three spots won medals at the 2023 CBAC and Canada Beer Cup. Lone Oak Brewing Co., PEI Brewing and Bogside Brewing all took home medals, making PEI a province where 30% of the breweries are national award winners. Of them, it was Lone Oak Brewing Co., who took home the most nods having won a silver for their low-alcohol beer called Noble, and an honourable mention for Boat Traffic in the Oatmeal Stout category at the CBAC. Lone Oak’s Noble also won a gold at the Canada Beer Cup. 


The Lone Oak brewery, which houses a golf simulator, is located in Borden-Carleton PEI, but they also have a brewpub in Charlottetown, a taproom at a golf course in Stratford, and a seasonal beer garden in Cavendish. Lone Oak has an impressive food menu and an even more astounding array of live events and specials.


Borden-Carleton is located at the end of the Confederation Bridge which crosses over the Northumberland Strait from New Brunswick, and no road trip through the maritimes is complete without driving over it (or under it in a boat as we did in 2021), so make sure you stop in to Lone Oak Brewing Co for the best beer in Prince Edward Island. 


NOVA SCOTIA 


flag of Nova Scotia with Tatamagouche Brewing logo  who is the best brewery in Nova Scotia for 2023

There are approximately 50 breweries scattered across the province that is home to the Cabot Trail and the Bay of Fundy, where you will find the highest tides in the world. Despite an impressive performance by Propeller Brewing Company, Halifax’s oldest craft brewery (Alexander Keiths is not a craft brewery) who won three awards at the CBAC, it was Tatamagouche (‘Tat-a-ma-goo-shh’) Brewing Co. who really cleaned up with a combined six awards at both national events. 


Tatamagouche Brewing Co., collected a silver at both the CBAC and the Canada Beer Cup for their Two Rivers Baltic Porter, a silver at the Canada Beer Cup for SaltWater Cowboy in the Gose (flavoured and unflavoured) category and a gold for their Berliner Weisse ‘Ketch’. Back at the CBAC they grabbed a bronze for Apres Cream Ale and an honourable mention for Tempest in the Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer class. 


Tatamagouche is a small and quaint fishing village located along the Northumberland Strait on the northside of Nova Scotia. This seaside attraction is a popular destination for those travelling between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. 


The brewery, which is set to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2024, brews everything from historical, classic and seasonal beers to barrel-aged and sours. They even offer a series titled ‘Weird beer’, so it sounds like they are having fun being the most awarded brewery in Nova Scotia in 2023. 



NEW BRUNSWICK


New Brunswick Breweries pumphouse, Foghorn and Trailway all tied for the best brewery in New Brunswick 2023

New Brunswick, the only bilingual province in Canada has 48 diverse breweries, making it a great place to grab a beer in English or French, all while travelling through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Canada. Of those 48, nine different New Brunswick breweries collected medals at the 2023 Canada Beer Cup and Canadian Brewery Awards. With two medals each, we have a three way tie for the best brewery in New Brunswick for 2023. 


Trailway Brewing of Fredericton won a gold at the CBAC for Event Horizon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout and silver for Pretty Please, a Belgian Style Sour Ale. Founded in 2014, Trailway is a great story of homebrewers making dreams come true and are one of the more popular breweries in Fredericton. 


Foghorn Brewing of Rothesay/Quispamsis (‘Kwis-pam-sis’) just outside Saint John, also won two national awards in 2023. They collected a silver at the CBAC for Golden Grover, an English Style Pale Ale, while at the Canada Beer Cup they reeled in a bronze for Tabula Rosa, an IPA of 6% ABV or lower. Foghorn Brewing Co., is a comfy dog-friendly brewery filled with maritime hospitality and a great spot to stop in when you are in the Saint John area. 


Pump House Brewery of Moncton, a former Canadian Brewery of the Year in 2005, collected two awards at the 2023 Canada Beer Cup. First a gold for Muddy River Stout and a silver for Uncommon Kolsch. Pump House features a large patio just off the main drag in Moncton and is always a super busy and friendly place to visit. The food menu is huge, as are the variety of beer options to choose from such as historical styles like Schwarzbier or Biere de Garde and more modern takes like Blueberry and Maple Ales. 




QUEBEC

The quebec flag with the logo for Frampton brasse the best brewery in Quebec for 2023

Having collected 57 medals at the 2023 Canadian Brewing Awards and Canada Beer Cup, there is clearly no shortage of award-winning beer being produced in Quebec. It’s no secret that Microbrasseries all over the province have been crafting excellent brews with many being recognized over the years on the world stage. At the recent 2023 World Beer Awards, Microbrasserie Archibald of Quebec City won six medals. At the 2023 World Beer Cup, the event hosted by the brewing industry, Quebec breweries Siboire, Unibroue, Hopfenstark and Corsaire all took medals while battling industry heavyweights such as Hoegaarden, Deschutes and Sierra Nevada.


Not to be outdone, Frampton Brasse of Frampton Quebec, who has also won previously at the World Beer Awards, took a combined six medals at the Canada Beer Cup and the Canadian Brewing Awards.  Located 1 hour south of Quebec City, Frampton took a gold and a bronze at the CBAC. The gold was for Rouge Des Appalaches, a Belgian Style Sour and the bronze was for Stout Imperial Russe in the Wood and Barrel-Aged beer category. Over in Niagara Falls at the 2023 Canada Beer Cup, Frampton collected another gold for their Rouge Des Appalaches, a silver for Hopfenweisse under Hoppy Wheat Beer, and two bronzes, one for La Mariveraine a Vienna Lager and Nuit d’Automne a Belgian Style Dark Strong Ale. 


Frampton Brasse may be the coolest Brewery in Canada, located on a farm, they have been brewing some incredible and heavily awarded beer for over a decade. 


ONTARIO


Ontario flag with logos for the best brewery in Ontario. Flora Hall and Tooth and nail brewing


There is some fantastic beer being made in Ontario right now and if award recognition is how it is measured, then the province is home to some of the best breweries in the country taking 20% of the medals at both the 2023 Canada Beer Cup and the Canadian Brewing Awards. There were 7 Ontario breweries that took home 3 medals in both national competitions, but one of those also won at the World Beer Cup, so we have placed them in a tie with their fellow Ottawans, Flora Hall Brewing who took four Canada Beer Cup Awards! 


Flora Hall Brewing of the Centretown district in Ottawa collected two Canada Beer Cup golds for Brett Blonde and English Ordinary Bitter while also winning silver for Hefeweizen and bronze for Oatmeal Stout. The Flora Hall Brewery is in a very cool and historic building that was constructed in 1927 and operated as various auto mechanic shops until 2016.  The interior contains eye-catching features of dark woods and metal throughout. Flora Hall has a large selection of beer and food menu and should be a stop for anyone going to visit Canada’s capital. 


Tooth and Nail Brewing Company, who can also be found in Ottawa, won three Canada Beer Cup awards, so it seems like a night out in Ottawa will provide some of the best beer in Canada. Tooth and Nail took a silver for their German or Continental Style Pilsner 'Vim and Vigor’ and a bronze for both Valor in the Saison category and Red Mosquito in the Belgian Style Tripel or Other Belgian Style Strong Golden Ale class. Valor also won bronze at the World Beer Cup under Classic Saison. Like Flora Hall, Tooth and Nail is also found inside a century old former heavy machine garage. They offer food and lots of beer along with other drinks and wines, so there is something for everyone, including hot dogs for kids. 


MANITOBA

The manitoba flag with Obsolete brewing logo the best brewery in Manitoba in 2023

Manitoba has more than 20 breweries in 2023 and one of them won three Canada Beer Cup medals. Mention should be made to Little Brown Jug, and Kilter Brewing, both of Winnipeg who received awards at the CBAC or Canada Beer Cup while also collecting quite a few medals at the Prairie Beer Awards. However, not every province has their own brewery awards, so we are sticking to the Canada Beer Cup and Canadian Brewing Awards for comparison. With three medals at the Canada Beer Cup, Obsolete Brewing Co of Dauphin Manitoba takes honours as the provinces leading award winner on the national stage. 


Obsolete, who are just over a year old, took gold in the Altbier category for Dial Up, and bronzes for Music Machine Sour Gramophone Berliner Weisse and DIPA 64 in the IPA above 8.1% ABV category. Dauphin, a small rural community known as the horseshoe capital of Canada is a 3.5 hours drive northwest of Winnipeg. 


SASKATCHEWAN 


Flag of Saskatchewan with logo for pile o bones brewing the best brewery in saskatchewan 2023

At the 2023 Canada Beer Cup and Canadian Brewery Awards, five of Sasketchwans 25+ breweries collected hardware and recognition on the national stage. Of them, it was Pile O'Bones Brewing who collected the most Canadian medals in the form of a CBAC gold for Black IPA, a CBAC bronze for their Belgian Tripel, a Canada Beer Cup gold for Scotch Ale and a Canada Beer Cup bronze for Hibiscus Lime Sour. 


Located in Regina, the Pile O’ Bones name pays homage to the ancestral people of Saskatchewan.  The brewery and taproom offers a large food menu and lots of styles of well-crafted beers. 


BRITISH COLUMBIA


Flag of British Columbia with logo for parallel 49 the best brewery in BC for 2023

It’s no secret that B.C. makes good beer. They have been doing it for decades and have easy access to all the ingredients in their own backyard, or at the neighbours. It’s also a pretty fun province, so why wouldn’t they make good beer?


In 2023, BC breweries amassed a whopping 124 medals between the Canada Beer Cup and Canadian Brewing Awards. That is 50 more than 2nd place Ontario, and 52 more than 3rd place  Alberta. This landslide officially makes British Columbia the most awarded beer province in Canada. 


At the 2023 Canada Beer Cup, Deadfall Brewing of Prince George, won gold Best in Show, A.K.A. Best Beer in Canada, while more than a dozen other British Columbia breweries collected 3 or more medals. 


It was however one Vancouver brewery that collected 7 medals in both competitions that takes honours as the top brewery in British Columbia. Parallel 49 Brewing Company narrowly led Twin City Brewing ( 6 awards) and Four Winds (5 awards) with two Canadian Brewing Awards and 5 Canada Beer Cup medals. Their Jerkface 9000 won silver in Wheat Beer and 10th Anniversary Brett Saison won gold, both at the CBAC. Parallel 49 also grabbed a gold at the Canada Beer Cup for Festbier to go along with a silver for Craft Pilsner and bronzes for Craft Pale Ale, Schwarzbier and Hefeweizen. 


With breweries spread all over the province, you can find a local craft producer during any time of the year. Whether you are there for ski season or to whale watch, the pacific province has you covered. 


The only thing is, if you are looking for the Best Brewery in Canada and the best Beer in Canada, you have to drive a little bit east. 



ALBERTA


flag of alberta with logo for blindman brewing who is the best brewery in Alberta and Canada for 2023


The craft beer scene in Alberta just doesn't stop. Its brewers took nearly 25% of all available medals by winning in over 60% of the categories at the 2023 Canadian Brewery Awards and 15% of all medals by winning in 43% of the categories at the Canada Beer Cup. Alberta, which is home to two former Canadian Breweries of the Year in the last 4 years, is where you will also find the best brewery, and beer, in Canada when adding up who won the most national awards in 2023.


With eight combined medals at the 2023 Canada Beer Cup and Canadian Brewing Awards, Blindman Brewing of Lacombe, Alberta takes top-honours as Canada’s Best Brewery in 2023. Of those eight national awards, Blindman collected four of them all for the same beer. A Canada Beer Cup gold in Wild or Mixed Fermentation Beer with Fruit, Canada Beer Cup silver Best in Show, Canadian Brewing Award gold Best in Show and Canadian Brewing Award gold in Fruit / Field Beer were all awarded for Blindman Brewing’s, Dwarf Sour Cherry Fruited Saison. Given this beer alone won so many accolades, it should go without saying that this is the best beer in Canada for 2023.


a bottle of Dwarf Sour Cherry Sasion form Blindman is the best beer in Canada for 2023


Blindman, who started brewing in 2015, also brought home hardware in the form of a Canada Beer Cup silver in the Barley Wine category for Perepllut Barley Wine, which also won a gold in the same category at the Canadian Brewing Awards. Add another Canada Beer Cup gold to Blindman for 24-2 Brett Stock Ale in the heritage beer category while a bronze was granted for Spons in the Spontaneously fermented category. 


Last year Blindman was also named the 2022 Alberta Brewery of the Year. They have won several provincial awards over the years and seem to only be getting started. 


Lacombe is located just outside Red Deer, and 1,5 hours from both Edmonton and Calgary, making a drive to Blindman Brewing for the best beer in Canada from the best brewery in Canada worth it. 


In Conclusion

In a time when ingredient and rent prices are forcing some breweries to close, it are these types of award ceremonies that keep the Canadian craft beer scene healthy and alive. Breweries rely heavily on drinkers exploring new styles and visiting their taprooms for award-winning products. Despite many of them making higher quality craft versions of popular sellers like American Lagers and Light Lagers, they still compete with the larger brands that have dominated the industry for decades. Through events like these, and by beer drinkers learning more about the history of beer and exploring the styles that started it all, there will be plenty of room and demand for the scene to grow. 


Here’s to a great 2024!



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YYCTOURS is a Calgary based tour and charter company that provides award winning brewery tours around Calgary and Alberta. Founded in 2023, they proudly act as the ‘hype-man’ for their local craft beer industry and offer a variety of beer information through news and history, judging tutorials, kid-friendly and dog-friendly brewery maps and more on their website. 


If beer isn't your thing, YYCTOURS also offers Calgary's only Wine tour as well as Calgary Distillery Tours.


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