Summer Suds

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

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