Ode to Canadian Beer

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The debate as to whether beer should hold the same status as wine in the canadian household.

Submitted: June 01, 2017

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Submitted: June 01, 2017



Ode to Canadian Beer

Like all Canadians I'm aware that it's Canada's 150th birthday.  If the giant, rubber duck touring the Great Lakes hasn't tuned me into it, then my trip to Chapters-Indigo to view household accessories has done the job.  There's a lot to choose from, that is if I'm looking to stage a lake cabin with a Happy Birthday Canada theme.  Unfortunately I'm not, as much as I want to hop on the first plane to the Okanagan and buy a lake house to do it.  

With the help of the internet, I'm always looking for housing trends.  Experience has taught me that there aren't too many high-end homes for sale that don't have a dedicated space for wine storage.  Wine cellars, coolers, display cases - if you're a wine connoisseur then these are important to you.  Since I can only drink one glass of wine at a time, I admit that there are never more than a few bottles in my house.  But I understand how important it is for some people to have a dedicated space for wine in their homes, even if it's only a built-in wine rack in the kitchen. 

Here's where I question things.  It's Canada's 150th birthday, and, well, I am Canadian.  I'm sure only Canadians understand the significance of this statement as they recall Joe and his proud declaration of Canadianism back in 2012 in that historic Molson Canadian ad.   Canadians everywhere raised their bottles and cans in pride and agreed that even though we have ice in our veins, the majority of us don't own dogsleds or trade fur.  But we like our beer, to the extent that in 2015 Canadians enjoyed over 22 million hectolitres of it according to Beer Canada.  In the same year The Ottawa Citizen claimed that Canadians were drinking 15 litres of wine per head, which is significant when the population was 35.85 million.  We have become a nation that prefers wine over beer.  

There are over 700 licensed wineries in Canada and about 600 breweries.  Despite our preference for wine, we're not drinking local.  In 2013 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada said that Canadians drink more French and Italian wine than anything else.  We're buying wine beyond our borders, despite the superior quality of what we produce at home.  As for beer, they indicate that Canadian brewers hold 89% of the domestic beer market.  This shows that Canadians prefer domestic brews and don't feel the need to buy foreign brands.

What I want to know is this - if we're so proud of our national brews then why isn't there a dedicated space in every Canadian home for beer storage that goes beyond the fridge door or the cooler on the patio?  Why aren't Labatt Blue cans and Kokanee bottles deserving of their own stunning display case and cold cellar?  Long gone are the days of the ugly stubby.  Today the Canadian beer industry is experimenting with bottles of all shapes, sizes and colours, not to mention glassware.  The bomber, the growler, quarts, and yes, even the stubby are making a comeback with the evolution of craft brewers.  Clearly if you add the word "craft" to the production of something, artistry is involved.  And if that much attention is being paid to creating and marketing a brew, then Canadian beer is as deserving of a smart, dual zone wine fridge as the finest bottle of Chardonnay.

Perhaps this is nothing more than my Joe and Molson Canadian moment.  Patriotism run amuck, all because of a large rubber duck floating from one Ontario town to the next in celebration of Canada's 150th birthday.  Or perhaps I've been inspired by the sign that hung over my head in the restaurant where I ate my steak and fries tonight.  "I won't be impressed with technology until I can download BEER!" it read, causing me to push aside my wine and ask the waitress for a lager that would go nicely with my beef.  I thought it was a reasonable request when two pages of the drinks menu was dedicated to beer, using words like "firm in body", "dry finish", and "well-balanced" to describe their selections.  Alas, I was disappointed when she didn't know what to suggest.  

This has made me wonder if my idea for the renaissance of beer in the Canadian home is too ahead of its time.  Or maybe I'll be surprised the next time I eat out and find that a soothing, copper ale with a fruity hop ending has been paired with some new, fusion Asian dish.  Anything's possible now that I've seen a six-story high duck on a lake to celebrate our country's birthday.  Canadians should raise their beers in her honor.  I will, too, before looking up the recipe for Beer Can Duck, which is supposed to go well with a pale or brown ale.  I may not have convinced anyone that beer should replace wine in their fancy basement cellars, but at least I know what to cook on Canada Day.


© Copyright 2018 Jackie Buell. All rights reserved.

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