Half Pints Brewing Company Bulldog Amber Ale, Manitoba // Dog Sledding The massive prairie provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan have far fewer breweries, and less people combined, than Minnesota alone.
There is a hand full of craft breweries but Half Pints in Winnipeg seems to take the cake. For those of us who sometimes just need a great amber ale without the fuss of something high alcohol or overly hoppy at the end of a laborious and long day, the Bulldog Amber Ale is perfect. Like many Canadian ambers, it is brewed with an English influence. This isn’t the ever increasingly hoppy American Amber you may know and love but in fact the exact opposite. It is nutty and malt-focused with only a mere 20 IBU’s coming from the flowery UK Golding hops.
On the vast plains of central Canada, it only seems fitting to go dog sledding. It’s an important part of Canadian history and still a primary means of transportation for some. If you can make it to Churchill Manitoba for your sledding adventure, you may even see some polar bears on your outing. Just picture yourself around that fire at the end of the day, with the dogs winding down, your guide telling stories, and a malty Bulldog Amber in hand. Maybe you should share.
Dieu Du Ciel! Dernière Volonté, Quebec // Ice Hockey
The breweries in Quebec focus on Belgian style beers that are, quite frankly, some of the best in Canada. Dieu du Ciel! makes a variety of beers from an Imperial Coffee Stout, to a Hibiscus Flower Wit, to a Maple Scotch ale, and they’re all quite good. However, if I’m going to be watching the Montreal Canadiens take on a team from one of those places south of the border, I want to be able to drink a few. Now, I know Minnesotans like their hockey but I’ve never met a fan as die-hard as a Canadien fan. We’re talking beyond Viking fan obsession.
Dernière Volonté, Dieu du Ciel’s Belgian pale ale, has a delicious floral hop note to balance the fruity esters from the Belgian yeast that drive the beer. Let your friends drink the case of Labatt if they can’t handle the flavor. You can enjoy the Volonté as your team marches their way towards the Cup.
Bellwoods Blitzen, Ontario // Cross Country Skiing
In Ontario, Bellwoods Brewery leads the pack. Find their 2013, or if you’re visiting, you may be able to find the 2012, Blitzen. It’s their Imperial Saison with lemon and plum, and it’s delicious. Yeah, it clocks in at 10% ABV, but you won’t notice it until you realize that your glass is suddenly empty. The lemon complements the delightful pepper notes from the Saison base, and the plum brings it right into the winter season. This is the beer I want after cross-country skiing through the Pinery Provincial Park near the family cottage outside of Grand Bend. It may be best sipped out of a stainless steel growler while sitting on the shores of Lake Huron after the trails, watching the little cousins play on the frozen waves.
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