Try these refreshing seasonal beers when the weather is hot
Since professional baseball left Calgary a decade ago (with apologies to Roger Kahn), dare we say craft beer drinking has become the newest popular summertime activity? There is no doubt that beer consumption peaks during the longer days of our summer months. So to celebrate almost everybody’s favourite season, breweries love to concoct special beers to help wile away the lazy, hazy days of summer.
Much like other seasonal beers, there is no set recipe for what makes a great summer beer. However, there are certain characteristics that apply to most summer seasonals. They tend towards the lighter varieties of beer, with lower or moderate alcohol content (usually 4.5-5.5% ABV), and often use ingredients that produce a more “refreshing” tasting beer. Traditionally, this has often meant wheat beers, but with today’s varieties of malts, hops and other adjuncts, a creative brewer could make a summer beer out of almost any style.
So what are summer beers all about? Well, where you drink it, who you drink it with, the weather that day, and a multiple of other factors all influence one’s beer drinking experience. For example, some people may enjoy many of these beers garnished with a slice of orange to help bring out their natural spicy fruit flavour; some pooh-pooh that practice. However and wherever you enjoy them, you’ll find a selection of nine North American beers and one European beer below which will help you celebrate the warmer months. Some are limited releases, so drink them while you can!
Anderson Valley Summer Solstice
They call this their “cream soda for adults”. With its slightly sweet malty caramel flavour, creamy mouthfeel and smooth finish, this California ale goes great with barbecued food and even some desserts. Sold in 6 pack cans for about $19.
Anchor Summer Beer
This San Francisco brewery created the first modern American wheat beer in 1984. They use at least 50% malted wheat in the grain bill with American hops. The result is a pleasantly light, clean beer that pours with a thick, dense head much like its German counterparts. 6 pack bottles, $17.
Samuel Adams Summer Ale
Now a Boston landmark, this brewery produces its wheat beer using noble hops. Its sharp and zesty taste comes from the additions of lemon peel and Grains of Paradise. The result is a peppery, spicy beer that goes with salads and lighter fare. 6 pack bottles, $15.
Nickel Brook Green Apple Pilsener
At only 4% ABV, this Ontario beer has the aroma of apple cider, however its taste is that of a light pilsner, albeit one that has been blended with about 20% natural apple juice. Which, of course, is exactly what it is. Very light, crisp and fruity, it goes great with milder dishes and poultry, pork, and seafood. 473 mL cans $4.
Amsterdam Oranje Weisse
The summer offering from this Toronto brewery is a salute to unfiltered Flemish style white beers. Brewed with unmalted wheat, they add two varieties of orange peel, coriander and anise to fill out the flavour profile. Extremely refreshing, you can’t miss its bright orange 500 mL bottle on the shelf, $5.
Muskoka Summer Weiss
Another Ontario wheat ale, however one that has more of a lemony flavour than most. Its combination of wheat, barley and light hopping make this a great session beer. 6 pack bottles, $16.
Howe Sound Cloudburst Lemongrass White IPA
Not all summer beers ignore bittering hops. This B.C. brewery’s unfiltered IPA mixes white wheat and barley with Centennial and Amarillo hops. The addition of lemongrass gives it an additional citrusy aroma and flavour. White IPAs are becoming a new popular style and go great with spicy, hot foods and curries. 6% ABV, 65 IBUs, it comes in a re-closable 1 litre bottle for around $11.
Fernie Brewing Company’s Ol’ Willy Wit Belgian White Ale and What The Huck
Willy Wit is a classic unfiltered Belgian white ale. Cloudy and brewed with coriander and orange peel, it is a good thirst-quencher anytime. What the Huck is a creamier wheat ale with a touch of sweet tartness thanks to the inclusion of native huckleberries. Both beers are available year round, but just seem to taste better in the summer! Both come in 650 mL bottles for about $6.
Innis and Gunn Lager
This beer is part of the expansion of Scotland’s favourite producer of barrel-aged ales. This Helles lager is their first foray into bottom-fermented beers and isn’t aged in barrels. By using sweet malt, oats and aromatic hops, they have made a beer that is so fresh and clean, you’d swear it came from one of the great lager producers of continental Europe. Like many of those beers, it also comes in a 500 mL can, $3.