Bottom Shelf Beer Olympics: Canada

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor you don’t have to.


I've been to Canada a couple of times and I really like it. In fact, I was considering Toronto for our honeymoon, but I couldn't convince Bottom Shelf research director Emily that certain neighborhoods on the south side are essentially almost pretty much tropical, if you think about it, really, and you wear a sweater. I might have had better luck talking her into Vancouver, because she has a friend out that way, but since the decommissioning of the space shuttle and the Marsening of that other thing, there's simply no efficient way for a New Englander to get there.

Because I am a small and petty man who would rather place blame than solve problems, I enjoy disparaging things that I cannot have. It's great fun to think up reasons why I'm better off without a boat or a pretty smile or a personal assistant to wash my lettuce and juice my citrus. You might think it would be hard to drum up reasons to disdain the Canadians, what with all their lovely health care and hockey and accents and the rest of it, but it was actually a pretty easy assignment for an informed naturalist like myself who recognizes the vital role Canada has played in American dog proliferation.

This isn't the proper forum in which to break it all down, but I'd be an irresponsible beer reviewer if I didn't provide at least a quick overview: Dogs, which in general I do not care for, are in some way related to wolves, which live in Canada. Wolves are, let's say for the sake of making shit up, some sort of evolutionary precursor to dogs, ergo, if Canada could keep its wolves under control, then I would not be sniffed—and potentially even licked!—by strange beasts whilst jogging around Fresh Pond.

I don't hate dogs, really, but they never bring me any joy and sometimes bring me annoyance, most often when their handlers refuse to consider the remote possibility that some of us don't like to be sniffed and potentially licked! by dirty stupid animals.

No one's ever asked me how long I intend to keep writing the Bottom Shelf, but let's assume someone had, and here's the answer: Until my wedding in October, when Serious Eats Underlord Kenji and I get in a gigantic fight because he's going to bring all nine of his dogs to the reception and play dumb when I say "Hey man, why on earth would there be things sniffing and potentially licking! me at my wedding reception? I only invited YOU because I thought it would look weird to just invite your wife, and while I realize I have no one but myself to blame should you start sniffing and potentially licking! people, it's outrageous that you just assumed—or pretended to assume because it's more convenient that way—all nine of your dogs were welcome."

Which of course brings us to my admitted prejudice against Canadian beer. I want to be open-minded, but every time I try to think happy thoughts of "Strange Brew," my brain just tastes dog hair. I was able to heroically overcome this bias for long enough to conduct a thorough and scientific survey of the entirety of budget-friendly Canadian beer options, however. By which I mean I grabbed singles of Labatt Blue, Molson Canadian, and Moosehead, NONE OF WHICH ARE REAL "BOTTOM SHELF" YOU HOSER BLAH BLAH WHINE EH BLAH WHINE. Yes, dears. You're all right, and handsome. Now, as I was saying...

I had to try nine liquor stores before I found Moosehead, and I would have skipped it altogether if so many of you hadn't said it belongs in any honest Canadian beer roundup. Thanks a lot, jerks. My buddy Pavlov likened it to cat piss, to which I can only say he must be hanging around with the wrong kind of cats, because my Moosehead sample was so nasty it could only have come from the darkest parts of a dog who'd eaten a skunk.

Molson Canadian goes a fair way toward redeeming the nation. It has a slightly sour apple candy flavor that sounds off-putting but was in fact endearing: such a weird thing to find in an otherwise basic macro lager. It's also highly carbonated and not particularly "beery," if you know what I mean, and you do.

Labatt Blue was my favorite. It's a touch more bitter than it needs to be and could use a bigger malt kick for balance, but the faint lemon soap note is very nice. The Canadian representative in the Bottom Shelf Beer Olympics is looking like a serious contender.

Up next: Maybe Australia or Italy or someplace else.