14 Popular Canadian Beer Brands, Ranked

Whether you like to whet your appetite for craft beer or simply enjoy cracking open a cold one, Canada has countless beer brands that are worth a try (eh). Canada's first brewery opened in 1647, as the thirsty efforts of New France's Jesuit Fathers. Since then, Canada's commercial brewing operations have kept up with some of the biggest beer industries globally, while its craft beer scene has continued to flourish alongside the beer world's avant-garde.

Visitors who love a good brew are spoiled for choice, with Canada being host to over 1,300 licensed breweries as of 2023, according to Statista. That's why we've put together this list of popular Canadian beer brands and ranked them to guide you on your journey through some of the must-try brands from the great white north. This is a curated list of standout brands across mainstream and craft categories that have a place in my heart, and that of beer-loving Canadians.

With my Canadian wife, I've had the pleasure of enjoying a cumulative few years in Canada, traveling through every province while scooping up tasty brews. Drawing on over 10 years of experience working in the beer industry in retail, hospitality, sales, and marketing, I at last get to focus my attention on the many world-class brews north of the border.

14. Labatt

Things can be a little different north of the border. Fries come with gravy and cheese curds, beaver tails (not real ones, don't worry) are a favored treat, and of course, there's the enigma of Canadian bacon. One thing that Canada and the U.S. have in common culinarily, though, is access to cold, crisp beers from mainstream beer companies. These are kick-off-the-snow-shoes-and-watch-hockey beers.

The Labatt brand is one of Canada's oldest beer brands, founded in 1847 by John Kinder Labatt in Ontario. Now part of the Anheuser-Busch InBev family, production is pumping on a large commercial scale, and Labatt umbrellas a portfolio of 10 breweries. Labatt's most famous brew is undoubtedly Labatt Blue, crowned as the world's best-selling Canadian Beer (according to Labatt).

Labatt Blue claims to be a pilsner, although you'd probably have to scratch that word from the label with your keys if you brought a can into the Czech Republic. There's just enough bready character in the beer to czech the pilsner box, with a touch of hops that offer refreshment. Labatt Blue is not a great beer, but it's clean, light, and uncomplicated.

13. Kokanee

Another popular mainstream beer brand, and another one owned by Labatt, is Kokanee. This is a pale lager made using the stream-fed waters of British Columbia's mountains, where it enjoys a particular following. The beer channels the mountains' ice-cold refreshment into its flavor profile, delivering a simple yet satisfying drinking experience. It's easy to sink a few of these at the wing bar or over a game of darts.

Golden in color and with a decent head, it's not an overly aromatic beer, but then again, it doesn't have to be. The sweet, bready, grain-driven flavor of Kokanee gives it a great base for its restrained hops to balance in a very drinkable beer. If you've just come off the ski field or a long mountain hike, Kokanee is a good friend you can hang out with, time and time again. The conversation might not be overly stimulating, but it's easy and fun.

12. Molson Canadian

Molson Canadian is one of Canada's most iconic and recognizable beers. It's widely distributed, brewed by internationally merged business Molson Coors, and is easy to find in stores. While it's definitely present in the sports bars, Molson can also be a sip-and-sigh airport beer. The brewery was founded in 1786, which the brand claims makes it North America's oldest brewery and Canada's second-oldest company. Now, Molson Canadian has expanded production from its original Montreal site, with breweries in Toronto, Moncton, Chilliwack, and St. John's.

The classic Molson Canadian, with its white, blue, and red (in that order) can, is another uncomplicated lager, but without being too watery or underwhelming, as many commercially brewed lagers can be. With a pleasant golden malt character that doesn't veer too sweet, the slight bitterness creates balance. It's not a beer that craft aficionados flock to, but it's an easy-drinking staple. The brand also brews lesser-known beers, such as low-alcohol and low-calorie lagers, as well as Molson Stock Ale and Molson Export.

11. Sleeman

Sleeman is an Ontario-based brewery, nestled in the city of Guelph. While Guelph is smaller than other Ontario cities like Toronto or Ottawa, Sleeman claims to be Canada's third-largest national brewer, owned by international mother beer brand Sapporo. Moving away from the previous brands that largely center around a single product, Sleeman's range includes a few different styles. With that said, a few styles within the brand's offering are especially popular.

Sleeman's Cream Ale, as well as its Original Lager (which used to be Sleeman Original Draught), are popular go-to's, especially within Ontario. The cream ale is smooth and inviting, with little bitterness and a biscuity, corny flavor and medium body. Original Lager is a golden, easy-drinking lager with a tad more body than other macro-brewed lagers, but ultimately it's just an unchallenging drop. For those trying to watch their waistline, Sleeman Clear 2.0 is a refreshing lower-calorie option. Offering a point of difference, Sleeman's Honey Brown Lager is a sweet, full-bodied indulgence of a beer. 

10. Moosehead Breweries

There'll never be any doubt about Moosehead Breweries' country of origin, with its choice of the emblematic antlered Canadian animal front-and-center on the can. Moosehead's Canadian Lager is the most famous of its beers, offering a crisp and refreshing experience at a quality bracket higher than some of the country's larger breweries. Moosehead also produces Cracked Canoe light lager, weighing in at 3.5% ABV, not to be confused with Moosehead Light, which gets this name from the levity of its flavor profile rather than its alcohol content.

The classic Moosehead Canadian Lager offers complexity in its malt notes, with a moreish biscuity note and a honeylike sweetness. Moosehead's lager also delivers a dash more hops than you get in many larger breweries. At last, we've emerged from the forest of large-scale international brewery conglomerates into a field populated with wholly Canadian-owned breweries ... for now. Moosehead is the last major brewery in Canada that's still totally Canadian-owned. It's based out east in Saint John, New Brunswick, where the Oland family has run the brewery since 1867.

9. Amsterdam Brewery

If Moosehead brought us to a tranquil field of Canadian-owned beer brands, Amsterdam Brewery makes us a deer in the headlights of powerful craft beer with a range of flavors. Most notably, the brand's aptly named Boneshaker IPA comes in at a whopping 7.1% ABV, which makes abiding by Canada's recently changed alcohol guidance more of a challenge. This is an unfiltered IPA that rattles your skull with exorbitant levels of hops, reaching a crunchy 80 on the IBU scale (international bitterness units, the global scale for hop bitterness) while delivering pungent hop flavors of pine and citrus. Boneshaker lacks some of the refinement and balance you get in some of the bigger modern IPAs, but if you're a flavor hound, this is one to seek.

Other notable beers from Amsterdam Brewery include the 3 Speed, which is a light lager, as well as its Blonde and the Space Invader IPA. Amsterdam Brewery is based in Toronto, where it was established in 1986. Today, the brewery is owned by Royal Unibrew, a Danish company.

8. Alexander Keith's

Another noteworthy Canadian beer brand that boasts a long history on the East Coast is Alexander Keith's, based out in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This is where Alexander Keith bought the brewery in 1820. More than 200 years later, Alexander Keith's name is still proudly worn on the same brewery's cans, although the business itself is among those in the Anheuser-Busch InBev family. 

Alexander Keith's offers a generous range of styles, including its flagship IPA, as well as a light ale, blonde ale, red ale, bohemian lager, citrus blonde, and other craftier options like a hazy IPA. The brand's posterchild IPA is a remarkably delicious beer for one under such ubiquitous ownership, although, in terms of the robustness of flavor, it doesn't offer as much heft as you may expect from independent craft brand IPAs. Still, expressive yet subtle fruity hop flavors and a full-bodied malt base make it an enjoyable enough drop.

7. Mill Street Brewery

Look at that, another beer brand owned by the Anheuser-Busch brewing megapower. This brewery finds itself at No. 8, however, due to its consistently light and drinkable beer that has (perhaps debatably) survived its buyup in 2015. Mill Street Brewery is a much-loved brand in Toronto, where it was first founded in the city's iconic Distillery District. It all started with Mill Street's Original Organic Lager, which remains the flagship of the brewery, although the year-round lineup also includes such craft ventures as a pilsner, amber ale, stout, pale ale, and hazy and session IPAs. Many of the popular beers you can find at a brewery are present and accounted for, and can also be tracked down on retail shelves.

The Original Lager is a thirst-quenching light beer that welcomes another soft, bready sip. The hops are just enough to counter the malt sweetness with bitterness but aren't a shining feature of the brew. Mill Street takes this place on the list because it outshines the other commercially scaled lagers (in my opinion), while still offering the refreshment and moreishness of the style.

6. Container Brewing

Container Brewing is one of Vancouver's many great craft breweries, churning over new and inventive styles, as well as creating their own twists on classic craft standards from their location in the city's Yeast Van Brewing District. With an ever-changing range of diverse styles including sour beers, farmhouse ales, nitro imperial stouts, Belgian tripels, wild pale ales, and Australian and New Zealand-style IPAs (to name but a few), those looking to try something different can visit Vancouver, enjoy some quality cheap eats, and then really sink their teeth in during a visit to Container Brewing. 

This brewery is also well-known for the eye-catching designs on its cans, which feature a cohesive visual style with colorful or intriguing illustrations. Unlike many of the breweries on this list that have been around for hundreds of years, Container brewing has only been around since 2019, born to run into the permaflux world of craft beer.

5. Steam Whistle Brewing

Some beer brands express their excellence through constant envelope-pushing, while others do only one thing, but do it well. Steam Whistle Brewing produces a pilsner, and that's it. The recognizable branding for Steam Whistle Pilsner can be spotted all over Toronto, featuring a screaming whistle in green and blue. As the story goes, three friends (two Gregs and a Cam) were working in one of Ontario's many independent breweries that got shut down after being sold, and they hatched the idea of starting their own brewery called "Three Fired Guys." Obviously, that dubious name never stuck, but luckily the pilsner did.

Steam Whistle focuses all its attention on perfecting the art of the pilsner, which has paid off as the brewery's literal golden child. The traditional saaz hops used for pilsners deliver a pleasant noble hop quality with its green and herbaceous character. Steam Whistle's dry, wholegrain breadlike malt base makes this a textbook pilsner, but one that still has a crisp, new-world personality.

4. Unibroue

Unibroue (pronounced "uni-brew") is one of Quebec's most recognizable breweries. The brewery started with a man named André Dion, who attempted to bring Quebec's smaller breweries together in 1990 to help them achieve distribution in Canada's other provinces. When this concept ultimately failed, Dion and his business partner teamed up with a Belgian brewer, whom they brought into the Massawippi brewery of which they were majority shareholders. In merging Massawippi and Unibroue, a new process was introduced for a Canadian brewery: the first white beer in North America to be bottle-refermented in the Belgian tradition.

This process of refermentation gave Unibroue its claim to fame in the landscape of Canadian brewing. So much interest did the brewing industry have, in fact, that Sleeman purchased Unibroue in 2004, before its eventual acquisition by Sapporo International in 2006, landing the Quebec brewery in this Japanese company's pocket. The brand still specializes in Belgian-style beers, including its original Blanche de Chambly, and the quality of its craft is still highly respected. Unibroue's most legendary beer is La Fin du Monde, a Belgian tripel-style beer that has collected around 60 international awards and is the three-time winner of the World Beer Awards' title "World's Best Tripel Belgian Style Beer."

3. Collective Arts

If you're a craft beer fanatic in Ontario, you'll find it hard to avoid the Collective Arts brand. Based in Hamilton, Collective Arts explores everything the world of craft beer has to offer while also delivering a solid core range. Collective Arts cans are a spectacle in and of themselves, showcasing the creativity that the brand values so dearly by working with different featured artists for each brew. 

Every IPA style is represented somewhere in the brand's lineup, and those who enjoy the sour side of the spectrum would also not be disappointed after a session in the taproom. If you want to try something you've never heard of before, Collective Arts is worth finding. My favorite beer in Collective Arts' core range is the Hazy State, which is one of the first I reach for every time I'm in Ontario. Its generous tropical hop flavor just keeps giving, yet it is soft and juicy enough to have a session with, being a timid 4.1% ABV.

2. Dieu Du Ciel!

Doubling back to Quebec again, the No. 2 spot goes to Dieu Du Ciel! from Montreal. Starting in 1998, Dieu Du Ciel! has been ignoring conformity and pushing boundaries with its brewing for quite some time. Going from success to success, slowly expanding the brewery with new sites, and developing its ever-growing team, Dieu Du Ciel! has carved out recognition not just within Quebec, but around Canada.

Some of its brews are masterfully crafted takes on classic styles, such as Belgian wheat ales, British amber ales, and kölsch-style blonde ales. Others put a zany twist on popular styles; for example, Dieu Du Ciel! has a lemon and pepper sour wheat beer as well as a kumquat-infused citrus IPA. Don't worry though, Dieu Du Ciel! doesn't just throw random ingredients into a tub and serve you the results, each beer is meticulously crafted, refined, and perfected. Of course, what you get in the glass isn't all there is to enjoy — as with so many craft brands, the label is half the fun, with unique designs that beg a closer look.

1. Bellwoods Brewery

Bellwoods Brewery is my favorite craft spot to hit in Toronto. (A big statement, I know — there are countless excellent breweries in "The Six.") Bellwood's beers are full-flavored, creative, and excellently executed, whether they're refined takes on traditional styles or wacky experimental brews you'll never see again. If you want some funky barrel-aged beers to scratch that craft itch, or a bright and crisp lager to satiate your thirst, there's probably a tasty pint at Bellwoods with your name on it.

Jelly King is a popular drop at Bellwoods and one of my favorites. It's a dry-hopped sour ale, with bold stonefruit, fresh tropical flavors, tight acidity, and herbaceous hops. Of course, not content to sit on its laurels, Bellwoods also offers a passionfruit, orange, and guava twist on this beer, as well as another version spiked with cranberry and tangerine (at least, at the time of writing). If that's not creativity for the sake of it, I don't know what is. What's more, there are even two non-alcoholic versions of Jelly King, so even more people can enjoy this sour delight.


This list is a curated selection of some of Canada's most popular beer brands, ranked in an order that takes into account their beers' consistency, enjoyability, occasion, and overall quality. Every beer brand earned its place on this list through its unique combination of these merits.

Each of these breweries has earned a special place in my heart and found success in Canada's beer industry. To place these beers in an order that makes the most sense, I researched a large number of breweries and their public reviews, consumer opinions, and rankings on sites such as Untappd. My personal opinion also factored into the order of these beer brands, and I attempted to be fair and honest in the order I gave them. I've worked in the craft beer industry for over a decade, and it's this experience I drew on when ranking these breweries.

Because of how massive the Canadian beer industry is, this list cannot possibly include every type of beer or even the top tier of brewery in each category. There are simply far too many Canadian breweries to be able to include much more than 1% of the country's 1,300-plus breweries. This list is intended to give those unfamiliar with Canadian beer brands a ranked snapshot of what they can enjoy across the craft and mainstream segments.