We asked 10 lo­cal beer ex­perts – ci­cerones, brew­mas­ters, writ­ers and badasses of beer – to share their favourite sum­mer beer styles and pre­scribe us some­thing to chill out to.



Award-win­ning beer writer, bens­beerblog.com

I kind of hate the idea that when we talk about drink­ing beer in the sum­mer, we of­ten talk only about beers that go down easy. Peo­ple think that be­cause it’s hot they need some­thing they can drink re­ally cold that doesn’t taste like any­thing. News flash: there’s a liq­uid for that – it’s called wa­ter.

If you’re go­ing to drink beer, drink a real fuck­ing beer. I know you’re sweaty af­ter that bike ride and, yes, it’s sunny and hot on the pa­tio, but just be­cause it’s July doesn’t mean your taste buds stopped func­tion­ing.

Save the in­dus­trial lagers for old folks who don’t know any bet­ter and sup­port a lo­cal, in­de­pen­dent brew­ery mak­ing in­ter­est­ing beer that is also great on a hot day. Try Limp Pup­pet from Toronto’s own Great Lakes Brew­ery or Golden Beach Pale Ale from Graven­hurst’s Saw­dust City to dis­cover beer that is aro­matic and com­plex but still re­fresh­ing. Maybe even pick up (gasp) a dark beer like Neustadt 10w30 brown ale or Left Field Brew­ery’s Ee­phus oat­meal brown – both would do just fine on a warm evening with grilled meat or smoky bar­be­cue. Sum­mer beer doesn’t have to mean bor­ing beer.


Owner of Kens­ing­ton Brew­ing Co.

With­out plug­ging our own beer, the ever sum­mer-ap­pro­pri­ate Wa­ter­melon Wheat, I’d say I’ve been look­ing for more in the sai­son depart­ment. With the crisp­ness it de­liv­ers, it’s a great match for BBQ and sum­mer eats. Some­thing I haven’t found much of but want more of is a hoppy lager or pils. I want the lighter body a lager puts out, with ad­di­tional char­ac­ter from the hops. That’s some­thing we’re look­ing at do­ing.


Beer writer, cer­ti­fied cicerone and Prud’homme beer som­me­lier, craft­beer­tast­ings.com

Ev­ery sum­mer I look for­ward to the re­turn of sours – from Nickel Brook’s Über Ber­liner Weisse to Lib­erty Vil­lage’s Gose to im­ports like Cu­vée des Ja­cobins. It pisses me off that we don’t see these around all year long, but I con­sole my­self by hav­ing an im­pas­sioned fling with them while the sun shines.

Maybe it’s be­cause I’m a nurs­ing mama right now, but I crave hops – I have a fridge full of GLB’s Thrust IPA, and I dig some of the ses­sion IPAs with huge trop­i­cal fruit aro­mas like Muskoka’s De­tour. When I eat (which is all the time), I pop the cork on a sai­son. The clas­sic Sai­son Dupont is my go-to, and I grab my lo­cal’s Left Field Brew­ery Sun­light Park Sai­son when­ever I can.


Brew­mas­ter and co-owner, Left Field Brew­ery

As the tem­per­a­ture rises, I find my­self reach­ing for ses­sion­able pale ales and IPAs as well as saisons, hoppy wheats and Ber­liner weisse. I haven’t caught the radler bug, but if I’m in the mood I’ll some­times add 1 part grape­fruit juice to 3 parts sai­son.


Sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager for Black Oak Brew­ing Co.

I am a big fan of sai­son Bel­gian ales on hot sum­mer days: re­fresh­ing, hazy and burst­ing with flavour! I es­pe­cially en­joy the saisons com­ing out of lo­cal On­tario craft brew­eries like Black Oak, Left Field, Nickel Brook and Block Three.

Matt bod

Bar­tender at Bar Hop

Ev­ery sum­mer I grav­i­tate to­ward saisons and farm­house ales more than any­thing else. Sai­son Dupont is the god­head, but there’s a ton of good stuff be­ing pro­duced lo­cally now as well – the farm­house ales Am­s­ter­dam is do­ing down at the brew pub are ab­so­lutely phe­nom­e­nal. For saisons there’s a fair amount to choose from, and most of the bet­ter brew­eries in On­tario are pro­duc­ing at least one good one.

For me the style is about as good as you can get for a sum­mer beer – bone-dry and pep­pery in a way that’s re­fresh­ing and nu­anced while still pack­ing a punch in terms of flavour. I’ve also been dig­ging pil­sners (Czech, Ger­man and Amer­i­can styles equally), and re­ally good Amer­i­can pale ales will never, ever get old.

Rob Pin­gi­tore

Co-owner of Bar Hop

I’ve been drink­ing a fair amount of gose and Ber­liner weiss so far. The acid­ity and low ABV of both styles make for re­fresh­ing pa­tio ses­sions on hot days while of­fer­ing enough com­plex­ity to keep me in­ter­ested.

This has been the first year there’s been a solid se­lec­tion of lo­cal Ber­liner weiss, and I’ve been en­joy­ing them with a shot of woodruff syrup. It bal­ances out the sour­ness by sweet­en­ing it slightly and adding a lit­tle more com­plex­ity in the form of barely per­cep­ti­ble vanilla, hay and anise notes. For gose, I’ve been stick­ing mostly to Les Trois Mous­que­taires

Gose, Lo­cal 7 Ses­sion Gose and (when­ever I can sneak over to

Buf­falo to pick some up) An­der­son Val­ley Blood Or­ange Gose.

Mike lackey

Brew­mas­ter at Great Lakes Brew­ery

The past few sum­mers I’ve been drink­ing low-al­co­hol saisons. I’m part of a home­brew club that makes a killer 3-point-some­thing ABV sai­son we call Sim­ple Life. The name is apt: it’s not overtly com­pli­cated, but tasty, dry and easy on the palate.

From a brew­ing per­spec­tive, it’s eas­ier to brew with sai­son yeast in the sum­mer be­cause the yeast prefers warmer temps. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

At GLB we’ve made a few batches of Bel­gian-style grisettes (which for all in­tents and pur­poses are saisons) that were pretty cool: Hissy­fit and Chill Win­ston. We are hop­ing to re­visit a brew or two of Chill this year.

A friend re­cently got me into Spaten Helles, which I can pic­ture my­self con­sum­ing a fair amount of in the backyard and on the dock this sum­mer.

Ralph Mo­rana

Co-owner of Bar Volo, co-founder of Cask Days Fes­ti­val and Keep6 Im­ports

Dur­ing the sum­mer you’ll find me drink­ing ses­sion­able beers like Howe Sound Lager (BC) or my cur­rent jam, Still­wa­ter Clas­sique (Bal­ti­more), straight from the can. Oth­er­wise, saisons are my go-to styles, es­pe­cially ones that are hoppy, crisp and dry, with a bit of farm­house funk. Le Trou du Di­able Sai­son du Tracteur and Dun­ham Sai­son du Pina­cle from Que­bec are two that best rep­re­sent this style for me.

When avail­able, I never pass up a Ber­liner weisse, a his­toric Ger­man wheat beer brewed with a lac­to­bacil­lus sour mash, a taste pro­file of puck­er­ing le­mon tart­ness and a re­fresh­ing, funky, dry fin­ish. My picks from this style would be Evil Twin’s No­mader Weisse (Brook­lyn) and Freigeist Köpenick­i­ade (Stol­berg, Ger­many).

Robin Leblanc

Beer writer of award-win­ning blog thethirsty­wench.com and beer colum­nist for Toron­toist.com

When I was in Las Ve­gas, I took a long walk be­yond the strip for sev­eral hours in blis­ter­ing desert heat. By hour two it was get­ting to me, and I found my­self in front of Hofbräuhaus Las Ve­gas, one of a chain of beer halls owned by Hof­bräu that are repli­cas of the orig­i­nal in Mu­nich. I ea­gerly stepped in­side.

The set­ting was… in­ter­est­ing. Re­ally cheesy Lawrence Welk-style back­ground mu­sic, kitschy posters say­ing stuff like “It’s a real sausage fest here!,” staff in leder­ho­sen and on TV, an episode of Cops.

Think­ing I was hal­lu­ci­nat­ing due to heat stroke, I de­cided to ride it out and sat down at the bar to or­der the Hefe Weizen. This beau­ti­ful, golden, crisp, dry, cold, creamy, some­what sweet beer was ex­actly what I needed. It felt sub­stan­tial and solid, but light and re­fresh­ing.

Since then, wheat beers have been my go-to heat-busters. For On­tario beers, I usu­ally go with Side Launch Wheat and Muskoka Sum­mer­weiss. For in­ter­na­tional op­tions in the LCBO, I tend to opt for Hacker-Pschorr Weisse and Wei­hen­stephaner He­feweiss­bier.

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