summer beer toronto

The top 10 local beers in Toronto for summer 2015

Toronto's ample craft beer offerings will keep you refreshed no matter what your circumstance this summer. Whether it be a weekend afternoon in the park or a late night barbecue, nothing says summer like a nice beer.

Here are my picks for the top local beers in Toronto this summer.

Amsterdam Sweetwater Squeeze, Radler, 3.8% ABV
Every brewery seems to be attempting a beer-juice combo this summer, but to my mind they've all largely been shitty imitations of Stiegl's - the one that arguably started the trend. The exception is Amsterdam's Sweetwater Squeeze. A unique blend of house-made soda, blood orange juice, and beer, this is a great sweet alternative and with all that vitamin C is arguably a perfect choice for breakfast.
Available at the LCBO and Amsterdam retail stores for $2.85 a tall boy.

Bellwoods Brewery's Jutsu 2.0 American Pale Ale, 6% ABV
Any beer that is billed as the "juicer cousin of Wizard Wolf" doesn't really need much more description for me to lust after it. Jutsu 2.0 is balanced pale ale with a clean malt character and big fruit and dank hop flavour and a mild bitterness.
Currently available on tap at Bellwoods Brewery.

Cameron's Into the Shade Saison, 5.2%
Fermented at a higher temperature than your average beer, this saison is described as having "a polite amount of mild lemon and light fruity hops," which might just be the most Canadian beer description of all time. It's also described as slightly tart, thirst-quenching Saison.
Available as part of Cameron's Brewmaster's Selection 4-pack at the LCBO and their retail store for $10.50.

Duggan's No. 5 Sorachi Lager, 4% ABV
With just a touch of the citrusy aromatics and zest imparted by the beer's namesake Sorachi Ace hops, this beer brewed with flaked rice is impossibly light without being boring. An excellent, delicate lager ideal for summer thirst quenching.
Available on tap at Duggan's Parkdale brewpub and in the retail store in six packs for $9.95.

Great Lakes Brewery's Miami Weiss American Pale Wheat, 4.5% ABV
This one's style is a bit of a misnomer given that it's actually not much of a weissbier, but we'll forgive that because a) it's a delightful pun and b) this might be the best summer beer produced in Ontario. A wheat beer made with pale ale yeast and bursting with juicy pacific northwest hops, this beer will serve you well poolside, or cruising in a boat with your blazer sleeves rolled up.
Available exclusively in cans at the GLB retail store. $2.50 for a tall boy.

Indie Alehouse's Couch Surfer IPA, 5% ABV
While this isn't the first time this beer's been around, it's worth a look this summer for twi reasons: 1) The beer delivers wicked tropical fruit, guava, and hop flavours with minimal body making it an awesome summer sipper and 2) The beer now features one of my favourite beer labels in the province courtesy of local artist Dave Murray.
Available in 500mL bottles at the Indie bottle shop for $5 and in extremely limited edition tall cans for $4 while supplies last.

Mill St. Stargazer, Session Ale, 4.1% ABV
This light ale is typical of English style session bitters that are ideal for summer. Made at Mill Street's Ottawa brew pub with a blend of Canadian, English and German hops, the beer has only a moderate bitterness and a dry, lingering finish. Just enough flavour to be interesting while staying refreshing.
Available only in the Mill St. Summer Seasonal Mix Pack (you see how they get you?) which sells for $13.95 and on tap at their brewpub and An Sibin.

Nickel Brook's Naughty Neighbour American Style Pale Ale, 4.9%
It's not new and I feel like I've mentioned it before, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't include Naughty Neighbour in this list. That's because this excellent beer delivers big citrus and pine aromas with a mild bitterness, crisp taste, and low alcohol that makes it a beer so ideal for summer I'm already drinking it like it's my job.
Available in tall boys at the LCBO for $2.85

Rainhard Brewery's Motueka Saison, 7% ABV
I haven't actually tried this beer yet, but everything I've tried from fledgling brewer Jordan Rainhard leads me to believe this will be worth checking out. With a mandate to simply brew beer he likes, Rainhard's hop forward IPAs and Pale Ales have all been good so I'm anticipating this saison, which "features a dominant yeast profile reminiscent of spice, earth and pepper" and "an enticing tropical aroma" will be worth picking up.
Should be available in Rainhard's bottle shop and on tap around town at the time of this post.

Sawdust City's Little Norway Pale Lager, 4.5% ABV
Released in late May, Little Norway is the Gravenhurst brewery's first lager and if you ask me signals a tide change in Ontario that will usher in more lagers and pilsners this year. This one is a crisp and light beer with just a touch of hops that was brewed in collaboration with a Norwegian brewer to "commemorate the long standing friendship between Norway and Canada."
Find it on tap in bars and restaurants and direct from the brewery in cans if you're in cottage country. Also, magically, at Tall Boys.

Did I miss any? Add your favourite summery local beer to the comments.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. Follow him on twitter @Ben_T_Johnson. Photo by Morris Lum.


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