Canada’s top brewpubs with food
Lately, people have been talking a lot about food paired with beer (see The Quench Ultimate Beer and Food Guide). There are a lot of amazing tap rooms in this great country, but it hit me that we seem to have forgotten about the noble brewpub — that special place that offers pints of well-crafted in-house beer paired with thoughtful selections of food.
As a Torontonian, I feel obliged to boast about some of our local brewpubs, but it would be remiss not to mention some of the many wonderful offerings elsewhere in Canada. Sit down for a meal prepared by a chef with a thoughtful approach to cooking, and know that the beer you are enjoying with your meal is as fresh as it can be.
Bushwakker is a Regina institution. It opened in 1991 and paved the way for brewpub legislation in Saskatchewan. The food menu includes pub mainstays, seasonal offerings, weekly specials and gluten-free options. You cannot go wrong with their fish and chips, or (if you are really hungry) the Saskatchewan Hot Plate: cabbage rolls, kielbasa, perogies, fresh sauerkraut and their signature beer bread.
The beer is known in the province as the stuff of legend. Every year, the launch of their Blackberry Mead attracts huge lines and sells out quickly. You can purchase a flight of all of their beers, which includes 12 year-round offerings plus whichever seasonals and one-offs are available. If you would like to be more grounded when you leave, opt for a pint of Cheryl’s Blonde, a blonde ale with hints of grain and a touch of sweetness. When fresh, it is a thing of beauty.
Located in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood, Eastbound Brewing puts as much thought into their food as their beer. Chef Tara Lee has brought her immaculate culinary skills and her love of fresh ingredients, especially pickles, to this trendy little venue. Foods like house-made charcuterie, a ricotta meatball sandwich and blistered shishito peppers pair perfectly with husband Dave Lee’s beers. His Nerve Tonic brings a gin-botanical spiciness to a bright Belgian saison.
Seafood lovers cannot find a better place than the West Coast. The menu at Canoe is incredibly well thought out, with a focus on seasonal, fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. The fried Pacific octopus served with polenta nero, sweet pepper emulsion, smoked olive, preserved lemon, fennel and black olive purée is a perfect dish for sharing. The rotating seasonal dishes, which include salmon, albacore tuna, rockfish and halibut, are all to die for, as are Canoe’s fresh beers for pairing. I enjoy light and refreshing beer with seafood, so my suggestion for the ultimate seafood beer is Canoe’s clean and crisp Helles lager.