summer beers

my notes from tuesday's beer column on cbc radio one's on the coast with stephen quinn:

Spring, schming! This year we seem to have skipped Spring and gone directly to Summer. 
Here's what I think you should drink now Summer's here:

Generally people like a more effervescent beer in the summer months.  When the weather heats up, people lean more towards the beers that seem “lighter” – in body, and often in alcohol too.  Wheat beers are a great summer choice as they have extra thirst quenching ability because of their increased acidity from the wheat:

Belgian witbiers are brewed with malted barley and raw wheat, lightly spiced with coriander and bitter orange peel, and subtly hopped.  They pair really well with vinaigrette salads, shrimp, thai food and brunch faves like bacon and eggs.  

Local examples of the style:  
Yellow Dog Take a Walk Wit – 4.9% - available in 4 packs of tall cans and at the tasting room;
Strange Fellows Jongleur Wit – 4.5% - available in tall cans and at the tasting room;  
Powell Street Witbier with ginger and cardamom – 4.8% - available in 650ml bottles and at the tasting room, seasonally.

German hefeweisen is a style of hazy wheat beer that goes down very easily in the summer.  With its banana-y flavour, sunshiney colour, and orange slice on the rim, this unfiltered style was made for sunny days.  It is the combination of wheat and yeast that give hefes their fruity flavours – not any fruit additions.  Hefes pair really well with spicy foods – the acidity in the beer cuts through all the fats and oils in these foods.  

Local examples of this style:
Granville Island Hey Day – 5% - available in six packs of bottles;  
Howe Sound’s King Heffy imperial hefeweisen – 7.7% – available in 1 litre bottles;  
Tree Brewing’s Mellow Moon pineapple hefeweizen - 5% – available in six packs of bottles.

The German style Kolsch is an ale/lager hybrid, usually featuring a little bit of wheat – clean and crisp and thirst-quenching.  Kolschs use ale yeast, but ferment at colder, lager temperatures.  Kolschs are a more subtle style than wits, hefeweisens or saisons, which makes them very approachable for all beer drinkers.  They pair really well with all summer foods – like salads, seafood, pork.  

Local examples of this style:  
Doan’s Kolsch – 5% - available in bottles and at the tasting room; 
Mt. Begbie’s High Country Kolsch – 4.5% – available in six packs of cans.  
Philips Brewing’s Analogue 78 Kolsch – 5% – available in six packs of bottles; 
Steamworks Kolsch – 4.8% – available in tall cans;
Off the Rail's Kolsch - available in 650ml bottles and at the tasting room.

A couple of other German and Belgian styles are also perfect for summer:

Belgian saisons are a very traditional summer beer – historically they were brewed during the winter months at farmhouses and stored until the summer, to be drunk by the workers after a hard day in the fields.  Originally not a cohesive style of beer, as each farm would brew with their own malts, hops and ingredients, you still find a wider range of flavours within this style today.  Because they were stored for so long, saisons tend to be higher in alcohol.  Belgian saisons have a dry finish, high carbonation and fruity peppery flavours – very nice on a hot day.  Saisons pair well with grilled meats.  Some saisons come in corked bottles, due to the high carbonation, and so are a great choice for any gathering that deserves a little flair and sense of occasion.  

Local examples of the style:  
Four Winds saison – 6.5% - four packs of bottles and at the tasting room.  
Four Winds also has limited edition saisons in corked bottles available from time to time (Wildflower saison, Operis brett saison and Sovereign super saison); 
Driftwood Farmhouse saison -5.5% – available in 650 ml bottles; 
Fernie Brewing’s Old Barn saison – 6% - available in 650 ml bottles.

And then there’s the pilsner.  A Czech style adopted by Germany, this lager style is cold aged for a much longer time than ales (generally 2 months), which is what makes this style so crisp and clean on the palate.  Slightly more hopped than your average lager, pilsners have a floral, bitter note to them, and they pair well with oysters, shellfish and spicy foods.  

Local examples of the style:  
Four Winds pilsner – 4.8% - four packs of bottles and at the tasting room.  
Main Street By Hook or by Crook Bohemian Pilsner – 5.5% – 650ml bottles and at the tasting room.
Bomber Brewing pilsner – 4.8% - six pack of cans and at the tasting room; 
Steamworks Pilsner – 5% - available in 6 packs of bottles and tall cans.

When you’re sitting on a patio in the sun, it’s particularly refreshing to have a radler – a mix of beer and fruit juice.  You can make your own with pretty much any beer  and fruit juice.  Favourites though are lagers or wheat beers with citrus juices, like grapefruit.  

You can also order one of the ready-made options like the imported Stiegl radler (available in tall cans), or locals like:
Parallel 49’s Tricycle (available in 6 packs of cans), 
Central City’s Red Racer Radler (available in tall cans)
Tree Brewing’s radler (available in tall cans).

In the same vein, fruit beers are summer faves.  Combining summer fruit flavours with an ale makes for a tasty way to celebrate the season.  

Local examples:   
Bomber Brewing’s  Park Life - a passionfruit blonde ale - 4.8% - available in six packs of cans and at the tasting room;  
Dead Frog’s Tropic Vice ale with mango and passionfruit – 5% - available in six packs of bottles;
Granville Island Raspberry ale – 5% - available in six packs of cans; 
Vancouver Island’s Black Betty blackberry saison – 5.5% - available in six packs of cans.

The effervescence and citrusy hop profile of many ipas make them really great summer beers as well.  And their ability to pair with grilled meats and spicy foods makes them perfect for barbequeing.  If you haven’t yet jumped on the IPA bandwagon, I suggest trying some cross-over ipas like White IPA this summer.  The combination of spicy belgian yeasts and citrusy NorthWest hops makes for a fruity and refreshing approach to the IPA.  

A popular import is the Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA – 5.6% - available in six packs of bottles.  Some local examples are:  
Parallel 49’s Toques of Hazzard, an imperial white IPA released in 650 ml bottles in the winter, that you might still be able to find in some liquor stores – 9%; 
Powell Street’s White IPA – 6% - available in 650 ml bottles and at the tasting room; 
R&B White IPA, made with pear juice, it’s especially fruity – 6.5% - available in 650 ml bottles.

I also think sours, especially kettle sours, are great summer beers.  Light in alcohol and body, with a refreshing tartness, they’re my go-to beers on patio days. 
Just released is Steamworks raspberry kettle sour – 5.5% - available in 650ml bottles;
Strange Fellows canary sour – available at the tasting room;
Parallel 49 Bodhisattva dry-hopped sour – 7.5% and Apricotapus Apricot sour wheat ale – 6.3% - both available in 650 ml bottles..


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