| Aug 14, 2019

It’s been a hot summer, and the Ontario brewing industry has responded. It is still difficult to get a true sense of everything that is available in Ontario because new breweries are still springing up pretty often, and our distribution system is not ideal, to put it politely

LCBO outlets, particularly the larger ones, seem to have the largest selection of beers from the craft brewers around the province. With the ever-expanding styles of beer that are being produced by the brewers, many with ideosyncrratic labels and obscure names, it is often hard to know what to buy.

My wife Martina, who knows a thing or two about the taste of beer, has developed a habit of buying one or two cans of up to dozen varieties of beer when she visits LCBO stores in large and small centres. Then, over time, we check them out and try to remember whether at least one of us liked them or not.

Over the last few years the craft brewing industry has been working hard to develop summer beers. These are beers that are refreshing and full of flavour, nothing too heavy and malty. They are sometimes low in alcohol as well, making them good choices for a hot summer afternoon drink, or to accompany a summer bbq.

One of the pleasant surprises this summer is by Spearhead, an established brewery that moved to Kingston a couple of years ago. Their flagship beer is the Hawaiian Pale Ale, which is a pretty good choice at any time of the year, flavourful and not quite as hoppy as many of the Pale Ales that dominate the brewing landscape

But the beer that they like to call “Summer in a Can” is their Chardonnay Summer Ale. It is brewed partially from juice from Chardonnay grapes, and is called a beer/wine hybrid. The alcohol level is 4.3%, so it is not quite a light beer but getting there. It is kind of a perfect summer beverage, living up to the ‘summer in a can’ hype as far as I am concerned. It is fruity but not sweet, tart but not sour.

I’d never heard about Yuzu, which is an Asian citrus fruit that looks like a lemon but is reported to be not quite as sour. It is used in asian and global cuisine. There is a brewery/restaurant in Toronto called Godspeed that is devoted to a Japanese aesthetic. They brew a Saison beer that is called Yuzu, which and now Muskoka brewery has put out “All Eyes n Yuzu”, a pale ale with a slightly sweet citrusy flavour coming from the asian fruit. It has some hoppiness at the end but is more fruity than bitter. Another summer beer to remember, only available until October, according to the breweries’ website.

Bring on the DDH - DDH stands for Double Dry Hopped, I looked it up. Adding hops to beer later on in the brewing process, dry hopping, brings more flavour but not more bitterness to the beer. They also make a beer that is hazy rather than clear, with grapefruit flavour and an aroma pine. Collective Arts brewing called Hazy State, which is a low in alcohol (4.1%) and they have Life in the Clouds (6.1%) and finally Surround Sound, a DDH DIPA (Double IPA) at 8.2%, my favourite, good for a summer evening and probably best shared given the alcohol (1 500ml can is equivalent to two and a half standard bottle of beer, or 3 light beers.)

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