Canada Day will be upon us in just a few more days. Will you show your patriotism by enjoying a tall frosty one in the yard before heading over to see the fireworks? If so, you will be helping with one small part of the 2 billion litres of beer consumed annually in Canada.
The real question to ask is: Should I drink Canadian beer on Canada Day?
For most of us, the answer is a resounding yes. Domestic beer is by far the most popular alcoholic beverage consumed in Canada. Imported beer accounts for less than 10% of the Canadian market – take that Budweiser!
Breaking down the rest of the domestic liquor market, Canadians annually consume 84.7 litres of beer per capita, 12.4 litres of wine per capita, and 7.1 litres of hard liquor such as whiskey, vodka, and rum.
Albertans consume more liquor per capita than the national average, trailing only Yukon, Newfoundland and Quebec (aka the boozy provinces). We must be doing something right!
All that is despite the high liquor taxes implemented by successive conservative governments in Alberta, which makes our province one of the most expensive places to drink in North America.
Although the tax man gets a disproportionately large cut of your booze budget, that hasn’t put a damper on the spirits of the spirit-buying public.
In fact, the privatization of the Alberta liquor industry back in 1993 has been a godsend for the discriminating tippler, with the variety of available on the shelves at your local booze merchant having increased tenfold since the dark days of the dreaded ALCB store.
The more seasoned readers in the audience may recall the trials and tribulations of bolting out of the office early to get to the uninviting grey concrete warehouses that were the government liquor stores back in the early 90s. The limited selection, paired with the surly government clerks, short hours, and long lineups rivaled only the DMV for its low levels of customer satisfaction.
Today, nearly two decades later, Alberta is a shining beacon of a progressive and consumer-focused retail liquor market, and the other provinces look upon us with envy for our wide selection of different tipples, and a local liquor store in every community.
Now if we could only get rid of those prohibition-era laws against transporting booze from one province to another, your intrepid liquor reporter would be able to order straight from the BC wineries he enjoys so much.
Getting back to the matter at hand, let’s talk about what to drink on Canada Day. Unlike the wine you enjoy on Valentine’s Day, or the whiskey you sip on Robbie Burns Day, Canada Day is all about the beer.
But what is the appropriate beer for such a patriotic holiday? Obviously, Budweiser is right out. Ditto for Corona. Even Labatt and Molson are foreign-owned these days.
Your humble narrator will be drinking Moosehead Pale Ale. Why this particular beer? It was the first beer brewed when the Oland family started up the Moosehead Brewing Company in Halifax way back in 1867. Not only is this the oldest surviving Canadian-owned brewery, but it is currently in its 6th generation of family ownership.
After a bottle or two of liquid Canadian history in the form of Moosehead has been enjoyed, your intrepid liquor reporter just might bring things a little closer to home, by cracking open a cold one from Calgary’s new Village Brewery.
Yes, gentle reader, Calgary now has another small craft brewery, staffed with a who’s who of industry heavyweights, including a former brewmaster from Big Rock.
Your humble narrator has already sniffed out the several dozen pubs serving up the fine wares of the Village Brewery on tap, as well as the many well-stocked liquor retailers that are selling the 2-litre growlers for enjoying at home.
With a friendly Blonde Lager, a spicy Wheat Beer, and an uncommon India Black Ale, the Village Brewery is all the rage with the local beer cognoscenti.
So remember, gentle reader, let this Canada Day be the time you put aside that fizzy yellow water some foreign megabrewery has foisted upon you with no regard for your refined palate, and reach for a fine Canadian beer. It’s what makes this country great!