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My taste in beer leans heavily towards the generously hopped and bracingly bitter India Pale Ales that dominate better beer lists across the country. But as the barometer rises, I forgo these strong brews in the name of refreshment. Here are three thirst quenchers to seek out this long weekend:

When it hit the retail market this spring, Stiegl's Grapefruit Radler ($2.60/500-mL can) quickly became the most talked about libation of 2013. A 50/50 split of Stiegl Goldbrau Lager and natural grapefruit soda, this dandy shandy from Austria is like Wink for adults. It's light, crisp and refreshing with tart citrus flavours and just a whisper of malt on the finish. And at only 2.5% alcohol, you can knock back a few drinks after work and enjoy a stumble-free journey home.

Next up is a seasonal brew, the Robson Street Hefeweizen ($2.90/473-mL can) from Granville Island Brewing in British Columbia. These suds are modeled after German wheat beer, which favours wheat over barley as the main grain in brewing. I'm usually not a fan of this lighter style of ale, but the Hefeweizen has an irresistible cream soda-like texture and it really perks up with a wedge of lemon. It pairs well with summery salads.

Saving the best for last... while enjoying a few alfresco pints with beer expert David Ort, my friend and fellow food writer, he steered me towards ordering a glass of Rodenbach Classic, a Flemish sour red ale that's new to the Ontario market. Available only on tap at a handful of pubs including Biermarkt in Toronto, this style of beer gets its sour edge from the introduction of lactic acid-producing bacteria during the fermentation process.

In a nutshell, Rodenbach Classic is the Pinot Noir of beer. It's loaded with sour cherry flavours, balanced with lively acidity and pairs well with a wide range of foods including grilled salmon. And like Pinot, it's pricey (around $9/250-mL glass) and very habit-forming.

For more tips, check out my Perfect Pairings column in the food section of every H&H issue.

Photo credits:
1-3. Eric Vellend


Eric Vellend

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