Amsterdam Bock Beer

The top 5 spring beers in Toronto for 2014

The top spring beers in Toronto are difficult to nail down for a couple reasons. First, as some local brewers technically contract brew their beer in facilities outside the city, it's increasingly difficult to nail down just what it means these days to be "made in Toronto." Second, given that spring in Toronto can mean it's 20 degrees outside, nearly zero, sunny, rainy, or even snowing, it's sort of impossible to find one or two beer styles ideally suited to this time of year.

Luckily, I take these lists very seriously and, after extensive field-testing, have come up with a definitive list of spring beers that should meet your beer drinking needs--until, of course, my list of summer beers comes out.

Amsterdam Spring Bock
The humble bock beer might just be the closest thing there is to an actual spring beer, and given that this one actually has spring in the name, it begs to be included here. Brewed in the traditional style, this is a sweet, relatively strong beer with low carbonation. Bock beers were originally brewed in Bavarian monasteries for consumption during Lent. They typically have such a high nutritional content that monks used them in order to get through 40 day fasts--but you'll do just fine drinking one or two with Sunday dinner.

(Incidentally, in case you missed all the media hullabaloo, Toronto beer blogger Chris Schryer recently did attempt to live off nothing but Amsterdam beer for lent. He didn't die!).

Barley Days Deli King Dark Lager
So Barley Days Brewery is actually in Picton Ontario, but this beer is still on the list for two reasons: 1) You should really try some of the beers made by great brewery, Barley Days, regardless of where they're located and 2) this beer was made in collaboration with famed Toronto deli proprietor Zane Caplansky. A rye and barley based German Dunkel that is flavoured with the same spice mix used for preparing brisket in the deli, the beer is apparently being designed to pair with Caplansky's famous smoked meat sandwiches. Additionally, Deli King Dark Lager is being launched at Caplansky's on June 17th to celebrate Zane's birthday and the 6th anniversary of the restaurant's opening--so it's just under the wire to be considered a "spring beer."

Bellwood's Brewery's Bounty Hunter Baltic Porter
When I think of winter, I think of the taste of dark beer. When I think of summer, I think of the smell of coconut and vanilla sun-tan lotion. This beer then, a 10.3% ABV, "velvety, hoppy, strong, Baltic Porter" with hints of coconut and vanilla, seems ideally suited to straddling my two oddly-specific sensory memories of those two seasons, thus, I'm calling this a spring beer. Available in the Bellwoods bottle shop as of April 21 and only made in a batch of 1500 bottles selling for $10 each, this one might be gone by the time you finish this sentence. Oops, you missed it. #FOMO

Left Field Brewery's Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale
Nothing says spring like baseball and a tasty beer. Of course the corporate stooges over at the Rogers Centre have seen fit this year to ensure there isn't even one effing decent local beer to drink in the whole god-damned ball park! AAARGH!...Sorry. What happened? I blacked out in rage. To fill the void, try Left Field Brewery's Eephus, which is a tasty, 5.5% sessionable beer with notes of toasted malt and a nuttiness you can enjoy from the opening pitch to end of the ninth. Currently available only on tap at better beer bars (where, incidentally, you won't get cut off after seven innings).

Great Lakes Brewery's Karma Citra
Yes. You read that right. Karma effing Citra is coming back. Arguably the best IPA made by Great Lake's brewer Mike Lackey, a guy who is to making IPAs as Yoda is to moving things with his brain, Karma Citra recently won gold at the 2013 Canadian Brewing Awards for the American IPA category and is a beer so good it has previously caused shamelessly-enamoured beer nerds to create social media campaigns to get it in the LCBO.

Sadly, the permanent LCBO listing is not to be (yet?!) but Karma Citra will be available starting next week on tap in a handful of bars and in cans at Great Lakes' onsite retail store in Etobicoke. The face-meltingly delicious 6.5% IPA has enough grassy, hoppy, and floral aromas and citrusy, grapefruit flavours to make you say "This is like spring in my mouth!" But don't ever say that.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. Tweet him invites to go drinking @Ben_T_Johnson.


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