The Beers of Summer

These six must-try brews are ideal complements to any summer occasion.

Black Oak Pale Ale
While many brewers are making their pale ales in the modern North American style, Etobicoke’s Black Oak Brewing Co. is still faithfully making its pale ale in the British tradition. The more traditional beer features a more balanced approach to the malts and hops, with lovely, sweet malty grains balanced with traditional dry herbal European hops. English ale yeast gives a classic fruitiness from esters produced during fermentation, adding to the depth and complexity.

A beer equally fit for sitting on the dock in the afternoon or grilling steaks on the barbecue in the evening. Available at the LCBO (#547430) and The Beer Store.

Steam Whistle Pilsner

While much of the hype and hoopla in the Ontario craft brewing scene features funky modern styles of beer, it’s important to remember that we have brewers making amazing classic styles, too. Steam Whistle has been making pilsner at the historic John Street Roundhouse, just south of the CN Tower and Rogers Centre, since 2000. While its grown quite a bit in 13 years, the beer is still excellent. With sweet, grainy pilsner malts that hint at hay fields, the classic noble hops give a sharp, nearly tangy bitterness. It’s a perfect “lawnmower beer” — which is to say it’s a beer that is refreshing and thirst-quenching, ideal to slake a hard-earned thirst, whether you worked it up mowing the lawn or walking an 18 with friends. Available widely at bars throughout Ontario,
and at the LCBO and The Beer Store.

Great Lakes Crazy Canuck Pale Ale
Paying homage to Canadians throughout history, but with a particular nod to our alpine skiers, Crazy Canuck is a North American–style pale ale. These beers are very hop-forward, often showing bright citrus peel or resinous evergreen aromas and flavours. Crazy Canuck is a perfect example of the style: bright with grapefruit peel, a big notable bitterness and slightly sweet biscuity malts that offset the sharp hoppy tang. Come July 1, I’ll toast our nation with a few of these.
Available at the LCBO (#242545)
and the Great Lakes Brewery in Etobicoke.

Bellwoods Brewery Roman Candle IPA
India pale ale (IPA) is an old style of beer originally made by English brewers with higher alcohol and lots of hops (both of which are natural preservatives) to survive the long boat trip to India in colonial days. The style has enjoyed a popular resurgence in the past few decades, and while there are some on the market that are fairly tame, most now feature 6.5 per cent alcohol or more, and huge, bitter hops. Roman Candle, from the new Bellwoods Brewery on Ossington Avenue in Toronto, is exactly what North American IPAs are all about. Tending much more towards earthy pine notes from the hops, there are traces of citrus as well, and nice sweet malts to support the hops that remind me of fresh-baked brown bread. Not for the faint of heart, if hops are your thing, Roman Candle is worth the drive to the brewery on Ossington.

Kensington Brewing Co.
Fruit Stand Watermelon Wheat Ale
Fruit beers often feature berries, like cherries, raspberries, black currants and strawberries. Others use tree fruits, like peaches or apricots. Kensington Brewing Co.’s Fruit Stand Ale is the first that I know of that is made with fresh watermelon juice. While there is a clear taste of nice, sweet malted barley, and a touch of classic wheat tang, the big show is sweet, fruity watermelon. With some nice earthy tones, and an almost leafy aroma that I assume is the hops, the interplay between the elements is actually quite complex. That being said, served up nice and cold after a long day in the sun, Fruit Stand could be the ideal summertime refresher. Available at fine bars around the GTA and the Kensington Brewery.

Amsterdam Framboise
Amsterdam’s classic raspberry wheat beer is back this summer in a gorgeous swing-top ceramic bottle at the LCBO. Bright, tart and a little sweet, the beer is bursting with juicy Canadian raspberries. This beautiful hazy pink beer is perfect for patio sipping, and it’s great for people who think they “don’t like beer.” Available at the LCBO (#637769)
and the Amsterdam Brewery in
Leaside/Queen’s Quay.

Chris Schryer, Guest beer editor
Chris Schryer writes about all things beer in the GTA on his blog, You can also find his thoughts on beer in TAPS The Beer Magazine and, and hear him Friday afternoons on Edge 102.1 with “Fearless” Fred Kennedy.

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