Jean Talon, the first intendant of New France is credited with starting the commercial brewing in Canada in the 1600’s. Much later John Molson, and Englishman, set up shop in Montreal in 1786,
and has been successful running his brewery, which historians claim to be North America’s oldest commercial institution.
Today, it is part of an international beer conglomerate (Molson/Coors) headquartered in Colorado, U S A.
While Labatt, Molson, and Carling-O’Keefe dominated once Canadian brewing, today the first two are parts of international beer conglomerates. Carling-O’Keefe is owned by its employees and operates solely in Ontario.
Canadians used to enjoy their beers, but consumption has been declining for years now, and hovers around 76 litres per capita, compared to the citizens of the Czech Republic 151 litres.
The most enthusiastic Canadian beer drinkers live in Yukon, drinking 128 litres on average, whereas Nova Scotians put away 77 litres, and Ontarians 72 litres.
Today, American brands dominate the market, not so much because they taste better, but because of expensive, effective and constant marketing.
Canadians thought that their beer tasted superior to those from the
U S A , but in reality the “mainstream” North American beer tastes about the same .
Americans measure alcohol weight, and Canadians by volume. The difference between weight and volume is 20 per cent, and so four ABV (alcohol by volume) American beer contains as much as Canadian beer at 5 per cent ABV.
American brewers use a lot of adjuncts (corn syrup, rice flour just to name two), while Canadian brewers are a little more circumspect and Canadian water tastes better. After all, 93 – 94 per cent of beer is water.
Beer is still the most popular alcoholic beverage in the country, representing 42 per cent of a market worth $ nine billion ( 2014).
The decline of the industry can be partially attributed to provincial regulations. Only a provincial brewery can sell its beers in the jurisdiction, with a few exceptions. With a population of 36.5 million, the market is relatively small, and operating 10 breweries becomes an expensive endeavour.
One large brewery could supply the entire country.
Since 1984 Ontario has been leading the craft beer industry. Brick Brewing Company was the first, and since then 179 more opened in the province. There is literally a craft beer revolution taking place and the results are more than encouraging.
Now imaginative brewers come up with all kinds of new ideas to entice more consumers.
They flavour their beers with fruits and other foods to render them more intriguing.
Ontario craft breweries have been gaining market share since 2005 with provincial government support.
Toronto has now 36 brick and mortar breweries, with more than 20 in planning stages.
A craft brewery by definition produces up to six million litres. (This figure changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction).
Brewers are more attuned to their craft, and compete fiercely to gain market share, and customers win.
The next time you go to an L C B O store, look for Side Launch wheat beer, or Collective Arts Rausch The Universal IPA (India Pale Ale), or Beau’s All Natural Lug Thread Lagered Ale, or Great Lakes Brewery’s Canuck Pale Ale, or Muddy York Lager.
Other craft beers you may want to try are: Pale Lager by Amsterdam Brewery, Side Launch Lager, Black Creek Ale, ESB Collingwood Ale, Radical Road Yuzu Pale Ale, Daywalker Reinhard Ale, Miracle Cure Saison, Porter Muddy York Brewery,Happy Beaver IPA, Heritage Hill Fresh Hop Ale, Autumn Hog by Amsterdam Brewery, and Singular Plurality by Rohrschach Brewing Compa