Like Jon Stewart says, “You know, Canadian beer is like moonshine.” In that vein, for the first of what I hope to be several reviews of independent breweries, I’ve compared two titans of Canadian independent brewing. In the green trunks: Moosehead Lager, likely Canada’s most-drunk beer made by an independent brewer! And, in the other green trunks: Steam Whistle Pilsner, a titan of independent brewing in Canada’s largest city Toronto!
Moosehead Lager’s subtle flavour and malty aftertaste give it an easy-drinking quality that is all its own. The first sip is quickly followed by a second, a third, and on until you’ve drunk six pitchers between the three of you and you can’t figure out how to use your Uber app.
This isn’t a beer to let go to room temperature. That’s no great mark against it though, especially because Moosehead Lager isn’t a beer that people let sit for very long. It has an “un-putdownable” quality like Lay’s Potato Chips or Timbits (it also pairs well with both).
It’s no secret why Moosehead Lager has become one of Canada’s most popular beers to drink. Moosehead Lager doesn’t go for the jaw-clenching bitterness of some IPAs, its strength is in its smoothness.
STEAM WHISTLE PILSNER
Steam Whistle Pilsner’s crisp, hoppy flavour is most noticeable on the first sip. Like black coffee or dark chocolate, Steam Whistle Pilsner’s well-balanced bitterness allows it to carve out a niche for itself as a smooth, easy-drinking beer with just a bit of an edge. That subtle edge can turn off first-time drinkers but, like coffee, Steam Whistle Pilsner is an acquired taste.
Damn, that was a fine beer. It’s horrible warm—tastes like some kind of herbal remedy—but, again, no big mark against it there. I understand why some people don’t like drinking a lot of these, the flavour can be upsetting if enjoyed “irresponsibly.”
Full disclosure, this is my regular-drinkin’ beer so I have to admit some bias when I say that this is the best beer ever hands down. That being said, if I approach it dispassionately, the crispness of the hops and the fresh, almost nonexistent aftertaste are what draw me to it.
FINAL BEER ASSESSMENT
For my money, I’ll always go with Steam Whistle—unless I’m poor because Moosehead is almost always less expensive. That being said, choice has a lot to do with circumstances. You want a nigh-chuggable beer that’s easy on the pocketbook? Look no further than Moosehead Lager. You want a beer that you can truly enjoy one or six of? Steam Whistle Pilsner.