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ONTARIO Beers worth trying

Hey all, I want to stop shelling out my money to these major corporations that mostly aren't even Canadian owned anymore and start buying some Ontario crafted beers.. I've been buying steamwhistle for a long time, and I'm sure there are many I've tried already but I guess I will use this thread for 2 purposes.... For you all to tell your favorites and reccomend ones worth trying, and also for me to leave notes once I've tried one.. Whether I liked it or not, and so on...

Tonight feels like a beer drinking night so I'll be picking up some cold ones later tonight

If you have a favorite, something you enjoy, I want to hear about it... and I'll probably pick some up

Don't slag this message off to the other BEER board or anything because I'm only interested in Ontario made and Ontario sold


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  1. There are some great beers being produced by Andy and Val at Neustadt Springs. Their 10W30 is a fave of mine.


    2 Replies
    1. re: legourmettv

      10W30 is a great beer. Especially in the colder months.

      1. re: legourmettv

        Fantastic beer! Available from the LCBO (in some places) as well as from the brewery store.

      2. This is a great website for finding a craft brewer

        And I think you're out on the west end so i would say give Old Credit a try

        1 Reply
        1. I only dabble in beer, but what I have liked so far are:

          Wellington County Ale
          Mill Street Tankhouse
          Mill Street Coffee Porter (especially with a late brunch ;)

          1 Reply
          1. re: pescatarian

            I second pescatarian's Mill St. picks. Friends recommend their Organic Lager as well. I've tried it, and it's certainly crisp and clean, but not a style I like.

            Also, I absolutely love Al's Cask Ale on tap at C'est What.

          2. Amsterdam on Bathurst & Lakeshore make a tasty brew. Bring your bike by on Saturdays around 11 AM and they might be giving away free samples.

            12 Replies
            1. re: GoodGravy

              i thought they had a tasting area with serve yourself pours available while they were open, period? did they change it? i noticed last time that you had to ask for a cup rather than a large stack of them just being available by the taps.

              i'm currently a fan of sgt majors ipa from scotch irish brewing... they would be my default canadian beer when i don't have american microbrew available in mass quantities. the only mill street i'm a fan of is the wit and i'm a bit hazy on the rest right now....

              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                great lakes brewery has my vote...check out the orange pale ale or the green tea ale.
                Perfect for a summers eve.

                1. re: domesticgodess

                  Oh my, that green tea ale was horrendously disgusting to my tastes. It tasted like oversteeped tea (harsh, bitter yet sour) mixed with keg leftovers. If one must have a green tea beer, it's not Ontario but the one at Dieu de Ciel was fantasticly refreshing.

                  1. re: pinkprimp

                    I didn't find it disgusting, but rather extremely bland. Flavours did not integrate well at all, you just taste pilsner with a little green tea and ginseng. Pass....

                    Creemore has a limited release out now called Kellerbier. Only 80,000 cans so once it's gone it's gone. Some lcbo locations have already sold out, hopefully they restock.


                    Had some Church Key rosemary & ginger ale at Smokeless Joe's recently, great stuff.

                    Not beer but I would highly recommend Waupoos cider from Prince Edward County.

                    1. re: aser

                      Yeah, I'm with you on the "not disgusting, but bland" front - to me it didn't really taste like beer or tea. I tasted it at the LCBO, and there were a couple of girls there ooh-ing and aah-ing over it, saying that they "don't usually like beer, but this is nice." They left, and the woman pouring the tastes poured me the 666, which I remarked was much more my speed, and she said, "yeah, me too." :) LOVE it when a product rep gives you an honest opinion on their own product.

                      1. re: aser

                        Yeah, the Creemore Kellerbier is really good. I bought quite a few cans for the remainder of the month!

                        1. re: tjr

                          LCBO inventory is still fairly good in most larger stores

                          1. re: jayt90

                            Looks like there is still some Kellerbier available (link still works but with current dates). Any chance I can keep a can or two in drinkable condition until I give birth sometime in mid-October?

                            1. re: julesrules

                              I've been trying to find this in my local LCBO's with no luck.. I even drove out of my way to one 15 mins away because lcbo.ca said they had 40 in stock.. But none.

                              1. re: duckdown

                                Union Station LCBO still had some as of about 5pm yesterday, you could give them a call.

                              2. re: julesrules

                                Yeah, keep 'em in the fridge and they should be fine. Cans do a better job keeping beer fresh than bottles. 6-8 weeks should be fine.

                    2. re: pinstripeprincess

                      As far as I can make out, the Amsterdam tasting policy is...erratic.

                      I do like the Mill St. beers (Tankhouse and Coffee Porter are my favorites), and the Great Lakes seasonals (not a fan of the green tea, but I do like the orange peel, the pumpkin ale they make in the fall, and the winter ale). I also like their Devil's Pale Ale, but be forewarned that it is NOT an IPA - when I give it to people they seem to be expecting all of the hoppiness of an IPA, which it really isn't trying to be. It would probably be a better beer if they tinkered with the proportions rather than wedding themselves to the 6-6-6 gimmick, but I still like it.

                      I also really like the beers that I have had from Barley Days out in Prince Edward County, and Church Key Holy Smoke is delicious if you like smokey beer.

                  2. I also love Mill Street Tank House.
                    Mill street also makes a "whit" beer that is fantastic!!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Baelsette

                      If you like the Wit you'll LOVE Denison's
                      It's a shame they don't sell it in the bottle or at least in like a "bubba" size

                      1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                        Agreed. Denison's actually makes one of the best white beers in the world.

                    2. Black Oak's Pale Ale is a good choice (they're from Oakville).

                      For a solid intro to a variety of singles, the Ontario Craft Brewers have put out a second discovery pack featuring a host of local brewers. This one includes Black Oak's Nut Brown Ale, the Cameron Auburn Ale (also from Oakville), the Tankhouse, the Trafalgar Irish Ale, the Nickelbrook Apple Pilsner, and the Simpson Confederation Ale.

                      Also, Mill Street has a six pack mixer of each of their choices (tank, coffee, organic, stock, wit, and some other one). These are both at ze LCBO.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Chester Eleganté

                        +1 for Black Oak. Recently visited their brewery (which has moved from Oakville to South Etobicoke). These guys really give a crap about the quality of their product. I am currently hooked on their summer beer, which is a wheat beer with coriander and orange zest.

                        1. re: Chester Eleganté

                          The Simpson Confederation ale is hit and miss with me. Some batches are INCREDIBLE tasting and others taste like budweiser. I either have really bad luck or they have to step up their quality control.

                          1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                            I agree with that. The Confederation Ale bottle I had was the worst beer I have ever tried in my life. It could have been a bad bottle, but they didn't have a best before or brewed on date on the bottle so I couldn't tell. However, I've tried the Hoptical Illusion from the same brewer (changed their name to Flying Monkey) and it was ok, though not hoppy enough for its name.

                        2. Frankly, my suggestion is to keep trying different brews. Sometimes you can find mixed sampler packs - the LCBO has featured one recently. The OCB website that CoffeeAddict416 provided gives you a good starting list of brewers to try. When you're traveling, try to keep in mind that there may be local brewers that don't get much distribution into Toronto, but you can pick up their beers at their brewery.

                          You referred to "cold ones". Beers can be consumed cold, but if they are ice cold, the flavours get muted. Never serve a quality beer in a chilled or frosted glass as it impedes the release of flavour. Most have been brain-washed by the purveyors of mass-produced, industrial, beers, of the importance of drinking them ice-cold, because they taste so bad when consumed at the temperatures that beers have been traditionally served. Lagers are probably best between 5-10 Celsius, while ales are best between 10-15 Celsius. (Note that it is a myth that English Ales are served room-temperature warm. They are served cellar temperature, which is cool, but admittedly warmer than what most North Americans are used to.

                          One thing to consider is having few friends over an compare different beers. An adequate amount of beer for a tasting is about 3 ounces, 80 ml, so a regular bottle will give you about 4 tasting servings while a 500 ml can will yield about 6. Start by having different styles (lager vs ale vs porter vs white etc) to appreciate the difference between them but most of the time focus on a particular style and compare them for their similarities and differences. Don't be afraid to put out domestic craft beers beside prototypical beers, such as comparing our best lagers and pilsners to Pilsner Urquell, Gosser or Bitberger. We're doing pretty well here in Ontario. (Also be careful that some of the well-known foreign beers are fancy mass produced industrial beers and nothing to be emulated.)

                          Keep a tasting book and log you comments about colour, aroma, bubbles, head (colour density, bubble size) taste (hoppiness, maltiness, and other tastes and aromas detected) and aftertaste. I had a couple of tasting books with close to 1000 pages (one beer per page) which were destroyed in a basement flood. :( Of course, placing those tasting notes here would provide a backup, which I didn't have.

                          Whether you taste with a group or simply keep notes on your own, it is instructive to compare your opinions with the pros. Reading Michael Jackson or Jamie Beaumont will be a great tutorial on the terminology and comparing what you think to their opinions is useful.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: AMarshall

                            Presumably these temperature guidelines are quite different for different types of beer? For example, I enjoy Pilsner quite cold, but light ales much less cold. Speaking of Pilsner, does anyone in Ontario make a great one?

                            1. re: marckb

                              Yes, temperatures can vary depending on the type of beer. Generally, the lighter the beer (in flavour, not colour), the colder you'd want it at. The more flavourful the beer, the warmer you'd want it so you can notice the complexity of the flavours. Something like a porter or a stout I'd probably drink at approx 12 degrees. A pilsner I would drink straight out of the fridge, but I'd be fine letting the bottle sit outside the fridge for 10 min before opening.

                              My favourite Ontario pilsner is the new(ish) Mill Street Pilsner. You may be able to buy a case of this by itself at the Mill Street retail store, but at the LCBO you can only get it as part of the sampler 6 packs. I think the Mill Street sampler 6 packs are a great thing to get anyway, since you can try beers from 6 different styles.

                              1. re: marckb

                                Agreed with kwjd that Mill Street Pils is great.

                                Also very good is King Pilsner. The brewer is hardcore about keeping it as authentic as possible, importing the proper malt and hops, and even treating the water to make the mineral content as close as possible to the water in Pilsen, Czech Republic, where the style was created. The result is as good as or better than any of the European Pilsners that are available here.

                                (The only caveat is that it's at it's best when very fresh, but that's the case with all good Pilsners.)

                            2. Lots of good ideas here, but I'm going to give a quick plug to two favourites:

                              Wellington Arkell Best Bitter


                              Durham County Hop Addict

                              1. Kawartha Lakes Brewery (Famous for Raspberry Wheat)
                                Cameron's (Amber & Cream Ales both excellent)

                                16 Replies
                                1. re: oakesec

                                  My favourite Ontario Beers this month are Beau's Lugtread Lagered Ale from just outside Ottowa:


                                  Although as far as I know the only places you can get in in Toronto right now are Beer Bistro and JKWB... and JKWB are sold out right now!

                                  ...and I am also loving Creemore's new Kellarbier:


                                  Although the brewery is now in the hands of MolsonCoors, this beer is simply AMAZING.

                                  Highly recommended.

                                  1. re: Non Doctor

                                    The Kellerbier sounds interesting!
                                    I tried Creemore's pilsner and couldn't wrap my tongue around it... didn't like it at all. Love the traditional and the urbock though. One more my fave brewers for day to day drinking

                                    1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                                      Creemore never really left much of a strong impression on me, but with all of the recommendations here and noticing that my local LCBO has a good stock of it, I bought some of the Kellerbier today. You people are right - this is darned tasty stuff, and I probably wouldn't have bothered had I not read the raves in this thread. So thanks Non Doctor, aser, tjr, etc...I have found another perfect summer beer. My tastebuds thank you, but my waistline will not. :)

                                      1. re: Wahooty

                                        We gotta share the wealth. :)

                                        Perhaps if our demand is strong, Creemore will consider adding it to their lineup full time. The pilsner was also introduced as an one-off but strong demand forced their hand to continue production. Not a fan of the pilsner though, very nondescript.

                                        1. re: aser

                                          In that case, I shall be sure to go back to the LCBO and express the strength of my own personal demand by buying more. ;)

                                          1. re: aser

                                            I bought eight Kellerbier cans today, and tried one. Underwhelmed.
                                            Prefer Holsten or even Bavaria cans at a lower price, or Sapporo in the same exalted range. None of these compare well to Dogfish IPA, but unfortunately it is not canned.
                                            My guess is that Molson is interfering, with bean counters at hand.
                                            Sapporo has not done this with Unibroue.

                                      2. re: Non Doctor

                                        i realize that this thread is a bit out of season right now and based more on purchasing beer from the LCBO, but that beau's is a really lovely beer and as it turns out the new JKWB otherwise known now as Wine Bar Local Artisan Kitchen.. so i guess WBLAK? has it on tap and might be the only thing on tap right now. i haven't noticed at the LCBO so this would be the place to get a fix!

                                          1. re: lister

                                            ah curious.... WBLAK seemed fairly proud about being the first. when did c'est what bring it in?

                                            i'm not fond of c'est what.... incredibly bad service experiences prevent me from ever going there again.

                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                              I had this beer at C'est What's Fall Festival of Craft Beer back in early October. I didn't realize they still had it, but it could be on their rotational list.

                                              I've actually never had bad service there, but I have heard others say that. While I am not there all the time, I do go often enough (a couple times a month for the past 3 years maybe). Wait that's not completely true, they once forgot a friend's meal, but when he mentioned it to them 20-30 minutes later they brought it out for him and gave it to him for free.

                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                It was there this past Friday (Nov 27.) I can't quite remember if it was tapped that day or earlier.

                                                I've had a few slow service experiences there only at the pool tables and seating tables. The two bad pool table service experiences were particularly galling because the place had nobody in there at the time. To be fair I have had excellent pool table service as well, more times than not.

                                                Anyways, we're usually seated at the bar and get our usual bartender so we're well looked after, it also helps that we go there often enough. That shouldn't be an excuse though.

                                                1. re: lister

                                                  we were at tables and had a server that ignored us and were virtually the only people there in a reasonably large sized group (birthday). apparently they didn't appreciate the poor tip we left the server (they wouldn't even let us order beers from the bar since we were at a table) and felt that trapping several of us in their stairwell and threatening us was appropriate. they only let us go after maybe 15 minutes or so when they decided they would just add the tip themselves to the credit card.

                                                  for the sake of background, the birthday boy might've been drunk but a number of us weren't. there is no exaggeration to this story. every time i hear them mentioned it evokes a very visceral feeling.

                                            2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                              Do you know which beer from Beau's they have? My guess would be the Lug Tread Lagered Ale.

                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                It seems beau's have finally started showing up at lcbo's in Toronto. I'm going to try and pick a few up this week. Supposedly they're redesigning the bottle in January, so it's your last chance to catch a nice keepsake?


                                                1. re: aser

                                                  Just saw it at the Spadina/Dundas LCBO. Almost bought it just for the bottle! If I had remembered these reviews, definitely would have picked some up. Next time...

                                          2. A lesser known beer that I happened to get in a tasting 6-pack and absolutely fell in love with is one called Walkerville. It's a full bodied, full flavoured beer that's just delicious. I've since been able to find it at the LCBO (not beer store) and bought a bunch. Not sure if they make other varieties, but the one I got with the red label was very impressive.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: SMOG

                                              Walkerville unfortunately is under new ownership, they sold in 2007. It's looking like the new owners may go the volume discount route :( Hoping that's not the case.

                                            2. I'm also a fan of Church Key Holy Smoke, have some with smoked salmon and see what a food and beverage pairing should be. I don't think anyone mentioned the Niagara Falls Brewing Co. and their Eisbock. Cellar one for a few years and have it with seared foie gras or duck, you can thank me later.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: dubchild

                                                Are there other beers that benefit from cellaring FROM ONTARIO? :D

                                                1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                                                  Mill Street Barley Wine... Not a wine, and not really a beer - barley wine! The brewmaster said on camera when we interviewed him, that it would cellar for 10 years or more.
                                                  I think it was available in a special crock?


                                                  1. re: legourmettv

                                                    oh man how could i have forgotten about this
                                                    first tasted it before the 2008 xmas holidays and absolutely loved it
                                                    it would taste incredible cellared i think

                                                    I believe C'est What had an Ontario barley wine but I can't remember the name of it for the life of me

                                              2. Black Oak is my fav brewery hands down. Both the Nut Brown and the Pale Ale are fantastic. And the owner/brewer is a really nice guy. I love Denison's weissbeer, but as mentioned above, its only available by the keg. Tankhouse is a standby. Great Lakes Brewery: like the orange peel ale, and 666 'Devils Pale Ale'. Here's my question: Who makes a great pilsner? I've tried many local versions and none of them have what I'm looking for.

                                                1. I like Barley Days brewery. I love their Wind and Sails Dark Ale!

                                                  Link: http://www.barleydaysbrewery.com/

                                                  1. The cask conditioned beers made by Granite Brewery are worth seeking out -- if not at the brewery restaurant itself then at a small number of Toronto bars & restaurants listed at their website: http://www.granitebrewery.ca/announce...

                                                    1. Mill St Stock Ale = best summer beer.
                                                      Victory Cafe (beside Honest Ed's) has a really great Ontario draft selection. and great fries, i should add.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: atomeyes

                                                        Here's my list

                                                        Black Oak Pale Ale -- very good

                                                        King Pilsener -- the green label

                                                        Steam Whistle -- a bit light, but good

                                                      2. Alright...I'll fill you all in on a little secret....

                                                        Some of the best beers I have had from Ontario were the ones I tried last night -

                                                        My buddy went down to Mill St. Brewery to pick up some of their 'Growlers' - a 2L jug of beer available ONLY from the brewery, special to summer.

                                                        He picked up their Peach Beer, their Bock, and a Lemon Tea beer - all unique, and fantastic!!!

                                                        At $10 a Growler, what a bloody steal!

                                                        You can all thank me later ;)

                                                        1. I agree a lot of what has already been said in the post. I'll go through my list of top Ontario beers by general categories (I'm only listing ones that are fairly regularly offered, and not just one offs for an event):

                                                          Pale Ales/IPA's:
                                                          - Mike Duggan #9 IPA (on tap only)
                                                          - Mill Street Tank House
                                                          - Black Oak Pale Ale
                                                          - Durham Hop Addict (on tap only)
                                                          - Sgt Major's IPA
                                                          - Granite Hopping Mad (on tap only)
                                                          - Granite Best Bitter Special

                                                          - Dennison's (on tap only)
                                                          - Muskoka Hefe-Weissbier
                                                          - Mill Street Wit

                                                          - Mill Street Pilsner
                                                          - Nickel Brook Organic Lager
                                                          - Creemore Kellerbier

                                                          - Mill Street Coffee Porter
                                                          - Mill Street Cobblestone Stout (on tap only)
                                                          - Hockley Stout
                                                          - Granite Keefe's Irish Stout (on tap only)
                                                          - John By Imperial Stout (on tap only)
                                                          - C'est What Hazelnut Chocolate Ale (on tap only)

                                                          - Black Oak Nut Brown
                                                          - Black Oak Summer Saison
                                                          - Amsterdam Spring Bock
                                                          - Neustadt 10w30

                                                          10 Replies
                                                          1. re: kwjd

                                                            Mike Duggan #9 is incredible. FANTASTIC
                                                            I had the opportunity to try it at Volo during their cask event

                                                            The C'est What Hazelnut Chocolate Ale is fantastic too.

                                                            1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                                                              Yes, I agree on the Mike Duggan #9 being fantastic. The first time I had it was during the Volo cask event too. C'est What now has this on tap regularly. I liked the cask version better, but both are good.

                                                              Great news if you are a fan of this (new brewery/pub in downtown Toronto as well as #9 in bottles!):

                                                              1. re: kwjd

                                                                oh. my. god.

                                                                I wonder if the condo across the street has any avail units? lol!

                                                                1. re: kwjd

                                                                  I can't stand the stuff. He's on that Cascade varietal kick which I think shouldn't go near beer. Too American, and it's not an IPA at all. Taste like Buckley's Mixture.

                                                                  1. re: BeeRich

                                                                    I love the citrusy aroma of cascade hops. Saying an Ontario IPA tastes like it is American is, to me, the best compliment you can give an IPA. Are you saying that the American variety of IPA's shouldn't be called IPA's, or that this beer specifically shouldn't be classified as an IPA?

                                                                    1. re: kwjd

                                                                      There are many who find the use of cascades to be excessive an overpowering and certainly not very authentic to the original IPA style. An IPA with the same level of bitterness brewed with Fuggles or Goldings is often a far more complex and, to many, interesting beer.

                                                                      1. re: OTFOODIE

                                                                        But this is a criticism of a beer style, not the actual Mike Duggan #9. Yes it isn't authentic to the original IPA style, but that's why sites like Beer Advocate (and the BJCP styles guidelines) separate out American IPA's and English IPA's. Many people also enjoy the American IPA style and the #9 IPA fits with this, although it really is heavier on the malt backbone than many American examples of the style.

                                                                        1. re: kwjd

                                                                          Absolutely, and I agree with you. But BeeRich's comment is a valid one too. I know many beer lovers who find the American IPA style is quite one-dimensional and many taste quite similar. While I will often enjoy an American IPA, I generally prefer an ale with more subtlety and complexity.

                                                                      2. re: kwjd

                                                                        Well it WAS the Americans that started that concept on the West Coast. It wasn't meant to be an insult, just a pointer to where all this started. American IPA's, as they are called, are not IPA's. IPA stands for India Pale Ale, which is a style that was started for a functional reason, a very long time ago. Cascade-punchy American highly hopped pale ales have nothing to do with that. I'd rather them take on a new name as it confuses the consumer.

                                                                        1. re: BeeRich

                                                                          Still closer to an IPA than Keith's! I think that confuses consumers much more.

                                                              2. In case you're interested, there is an event at Beerbistro this Saturday to honour the best in Ontario craft beer: www.goldentap.com.

                                                                There are special categories for cask ale, and I know they'll have at least Granite's Hopping Mad and Black Oak's Hop Bomb there.

                                                                1. I really enjoy Nickel brook's green apple pilsner . Nice clean finish ....and tasty...

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: mmmduck

                                                                    I found this to be too sweet for me. It reminded me of a green Jolly Rancher. I do see how others could find this tasty though.

                                                                    1. re: kwjd

                                                                      It is way too sweet, more juice than beer.

                                                                    2. re: mmmduck

                                                                      I like the Unibroue apple beer way better (Ephemera (probably spelt wrong))

                                                                      1. re: duckdown

                                                                        Ephemere de pomme... tastes just like nickle brooks green apple pilsner. But Unibroue make quite complex beers. I have one bottle left in the garage that I'm saving for a good occasion.

                                                                        1. re: Jamie Eats Burgers

                                                                          I found the green apple pilsner to have almost a "cider"ish flavor to it... The Ephemere struck me as much more subtle and less artificial

                                                                    3. I really like Muskoka beers! My fave is the cream ale.


                                                                      1. I can't say enough about those sampler craft beer six packs at the LCBO mentioned above. Bought a couple of each offering and enjoyed a few fun comparative beer tastings with friends and neighbours around the campfire at the cottage. Helped me discover Black Oak and a few others.

                                                                        Also came across John Simpsons's Anti-Gravity Ale this summer, quite crisp and refreshing on a hot day. That's the only beer they have on tap now at Mad Michael's in Wyebridge.

                                                                        I know it's owned by the evil corporates now but my stand-by favourite beer is Creemore Springs lager. I've been drinking it regularly since they opened in 1987 and there has been no difference in taste since the buy-out.

                                                                        1. Love the Hockley Irish Stout ... almost better than Guinness.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: mrsleny

                                                                            I think it is better than Guinness! So are the Mill Street Cobblestone Stout, Mill Street Milk Stout and Granite Brewery's Keefe's Irish Stout. I think the John By Imperial Stout is also way better, but it is a Russian Imperial Stout, so it wouldn't be a fair comparison.

                                                                            Guinness is a fine beer (I may even order it when there is the list of the typical Labatt/Molson products as the other choices), but I think the more flavourful stouts from some of the Ontario craft brewers just blows it out of the water.

                                                                            1. re: kwjd

                                                                              please tell us why. why are each of these better? or, alternatively, why is guinness not as good?


                                                                              1. re: HarryLloyd

                                                                                I won't go into the description of each beer, but the difference is that Guinness tastes like a watered down version of them. Guinness has a reputation about being a big beer among most people, but it isn't quite true (it has under 200 calories, similar to a light beer). It seems that way because of the nitro-tap that makes it feel creamier. Of some of the other stouts, you get a richer flavour that usually has coffee and/or chocolate combined with a sweetness of the roasted malt. Guinness has some of these properties, but it just seems to be muted.

                                                                                Oh, I'm talking about the Guinness Draught that we get here. I think the Guinness Extra Stout in the bottles is better and apparently the Foreign Extra Stout (we can't get in Ontario) is better than both of them. These are both bigger beers, in terms of both alcohol and flavour. If you were to have Guinness 100 years ago, it would be more similar to the Foreigh Export Stout than what is served as Guiness Draught today.

                                                                                1. re: kwjd

                                                                                  There are a number of different versions of stronger Guinness brewed around the world, varying in name (Special Export, Extra Stout, Foreign Extra Stout...) and in alcohol % (some as high as 7.5%). I've tried a few of them, and they all put Guinness Draught to shame in terms of flavour.

                                                                                  There's also a special 250th anniversary version that's been released in several countries, but not Canada. I have a bottle that a friend brought back from the States, so I'm looking forward to trying it soon.

                                                                                  1. re: gregclow

                                                                                    There a Guinness FAQ here:


                                                                                    It has a section on the various styles of Guinness

                                                                          2. Looks like most of my fav's have been mentioned so far including Mill Street, Muskoka, Neustadt, Black Oak, Cameron's, Nickle Brook, Robert Simpson (now Flying Monkey's - try their Hoptical Illusion), Great Lakes, Old Credit, Barley Days, Beau's...

                                                                            Out in Ottawa Heritage brewing does a great dark beer.

                                                                            Niagara's Brewing does a great classic Lager - Niagara's Best Blonde

                                                                            If you are out in Toronto make sure to try Granite Brewery & Restaurant, they have a small on-site beer store so that you can bring some home with you.

                                                                            Stratford makes a great Pilsner.
                                                                            I haven't made it through all the new offerings from Railway City, but I hear they are doing quite well.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Beaglesmuggler

                                                                              Also, now that it is getting cold out, Granite has their Gin Lane Barley Wine available again. I really enjoy both Granite's and Mill Street's barley wines.

                                                                              1. re: Beaglesmuggler

                                                                                Just visited the Railway City store - although the customer service leaves *much* to be desired, the beer is great! I love the Copper Ale (slightly similar to Neustadt's 10W30) and we have yet to try the seasonal Cranberry Ale.

                                                                              2. Just to repeat a previous comment, checking out the actual brewers will help you find some of the more unique picks (i.e. not available at LCBO, though sometimes at places like Bar Volo, BeerBistro, Smokeless Joe's, C'est What, etc.)

                                                                                Nickel Brook in Burlington definitely falls into that category, and I highly recommend their Cuvee beer. It is only available at their store (by the Holland Gardens on Fairview Street) but it's worth the trek. A beautiful spiced beer, IMO the best non-European example of this sort of warming, spicy beer.

                                                                                They also have some limited releases, like a Winter Bock (good, German style) and a Cherry Uniek (reminiscent of a sour ale).

                                                                                I like their Maple Porter - doesn't quite match my idea of a porter, the "full in the mouth" feeling, if that makes sense. This one is interesting because of the contrasting dark, almost coffee-ish notes that are cut by a tiny bit of maple sweetness. I like this one a lot. My SO gave me his after a couple sips, saying something about cough syrup. We usually agree about beers but for point of reference, he's more into bitter, pilsners, IPAs and I'm more into stout, spiced beers, trappist ales. In other words, if you like them light and easy drinking, what I think of as good "patio beer," it might not appeal.

                                                                                A final point if you do try to get to Nickel Brook - try giving them a call before you go. I spent months waiting and hoping for their next batch of Cuvee after being disappointed on one trip. That indicates the scale of their operation, the freshness of the beer they sell you, and the personal touch... but still very disappointing to have to wait!

                                                                                Another tip - in Burlington, check out Pepperwood Grill on Lakeshore Road. Food can range from just decent to great, depending on the dish and the day, but they have a great beer menu with their own brews, not available anywhere else, and have always had good service.