Here is a list of the top 20 Ontario beers, in 2020, as selected by various beer writers who contribute to Growler magazine. Sadly I have only tried two of them, but will seek out as many of the others as I can. Cheers!
Sure, 2020 was punctuated by lockdowns and significant changes for the brewing industry in Ontario, but it hasn’t stopped our province’s brewers from releasing new and exciting beers. Jordan St. John asked Growler contributors Robin LeBlanc, Ren Navarro, Tristan Bragaglia-Murdock, Jordan Duff and editors, Crystal Luxmore and Tara Luxmore, to provide a shortlist of the Top 20 beers that they thought made a difference in 2020.
Amsterdam Brewery, Barrel Aged Double Tempest, Rye Barrel Variant
The basic model of Barrel Aged Double Tempest had a fantastic year, sweeping competitions across Canada and the world, so that alone would put it in our Top 20 Beers of 2020 list. While skepticism is warranted when you see brewers play around with things that are working, the rye barrel significantly changes the complexity of this imperial stout, taking it in a spicy, warming, fruity direction. (Only available as a special release - Double Tempest may still be available.)
Avling Brewery, Fallow Year Ontario Lager
This urban brewery is proving you don’t have to be on the farm to brew like you are — their all-Ontario lager is a thing of beauty, and a thing of the land. A fluffy, crackery malt body with notes of citrus and herbs on the nose, it’s worth picking up anytime it’s in their bottleshop. (Currently available on line.)
Brewed with an organic cream of Earl Grey tea blend from David’s Tea, this beer features vanilla and lactose in order to provide sophisticated sweetness perfect for solitary consumption. (Currently available on line.)
Counterpoint Brewing, Black Cello Stout
Why? Not only are they absolutely connected to the community and boosting BIPOC initiatives, they make darn tasty beer. (Not available through their website, but some may still be available through the LCBO.)
Dominion City, The Good Way, Menobideg Sumac IPA
No strangers to making great beers and backing fantastic causes, Dominion City’s collaboration IPA with Algonquin Anishinaabeg restaurant The Birch Bite features foraged ingredients including cattail root and sumac. Hazy and pine like resin notes play together while a hint of the sumac’s acidity shines through to keep this beer fresh and vibrant. As with many of their releases, a portion of the proceeds from each can sold goes to support a good cause: Menobideg is a social enterprise educating young Indigenous folk with outdoor science