The 10 best new craft beers appearing on LCBO shelves now
The LCBO’s releases of seasonal craft beers have traditionally been the best chance to pick up unique and interesting brews that usually require a trip to the U.S. to procure. But with the growth of the Ontario market for craft beers, the provincial liquor monopoly has started to buy better beers year-round. Below, ten exciting new bottles that are showing up on LCBO shelves now.
Chimay Grande Réserve
$10 | 750 mL | 9%
While Chimay’s Premiere and White Cap have long been mainstays on LCBO shelves, this strong dark ale is the most sought-after brew from the Belgian Trappist monastery. Look for notes of dried figs and raisins, a peppery spice and toasted bread. The fine balance of hoppy bitterness and malty sweetness hides this beer’s nine per cent alcohol well. Coming soon to the general listings.
$8 | 740 mL | 6.5%
The LCBO is featuring four bottles from Belgium’s Brasserie Dupont for a limited release next month, but this new addition to the general listings has us more excited. Saisons are traditionally brewed in the fall and winter for Belgian farm workers to drink in the summer months, and this one is considered the standard against which all others are measured. Expect high carbonation, gentle spice on the nose, delicate citrus and green apple notes and a dry funk on the finish from the brewery’s famous yeast strain. This will pair well with spicy Mexican or Thai dishes.
8 Wired Hopwired IPA
$6 | 500 mL | 7.3%
West coast–style hop bombs have dominated the craft beer world for some time now, but this one, appearing in the spring release, is unique for being brewed entirely with hops that are native to New Zealand, where 8 Wired is based. Unlike an American IPA’s grapefruit and pine notes, you’ll taste passion fruit, lime, orange and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
Flying Monkeys The Matador Cedar-Aged Imperial IPA
$11 | 750 mL | 10%
Created to celebrate the Barrie brewery’s eighth anniversary, this imperial IPA was aged over Spanish cedar chips. The cedar dominates the nose, but is quickly overtaken by a citrusy bitterness from Amarillo hops and a slightly spicy finish, with notes of white pepper. This one will complement smoky barbecue or cedar-planked salmon.
Great Lakes Brewery 25th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel–Aged Russian Imperial Stout
$15 | 750 mL | 11%
First brewed in England in the 1800s for export to the court of Catherine II of Russia, Russian Imperial Stouts typically have a high alcohol content and flavours of roasted malts, dark chocolate and coffee. Etobicoke’s Great Lakes ages theirs in still-wet Kentucky bourbon barrels that round out the finish with a vanilla and apricot sweetness. Age this one for a few years to better integrate the bourbon character, or try it now with foie gras or rich desserts like crème brûlée or dark chocolate truffles. Available in limited quantities now.
He’brew Jewbelation Sweet 16
$9 | 650 mL | 15%
San Francisco’s Shmaltz Brewing celebrates its Sweet 16 with this enormous brown ale brewed with 16 different malts and 16 different hops (it’s labelled as containing 16 per cent alcohol, but the LCBO tested it at a mere 15 per cent). Serve this one warm to allow the big flavours of sweet chocolate, dried dark fruits and toasted sugar to open up. Not for the faint of palate, the Sweet 16 is best shared. (Technically part of the winter craft beer release, it’s just arriving on shelves now.)
Kuhnhenn Fourth Dementia
$8 | 355 mL | 13.5%
This old ale is the clear standout from the spring craft seasonal release. The nose is a complex medley of caramelized sugar, toasted marshmallow and a vanilla sweetness, and the taste has layers of dark dried fruit, toffee, mild chocolate and a touch of maple. Minimally carbonated, the beer has a sticky and syrupy mouthfeel, and works best after dinner with rich desserts. This one should move fast.
Orval Trappist Ale
$3.50 | 330 mL | 6.9%
This Belgian pale ale, available now, is an absolute classic of the style. It pours a lightly cloudy amber, with a substantial head that captures aromas of earth, leather, spice and a touch of fruit from the use of dry hopping. The taste itself starts with sweet malts, fades into fresh-cut hay and finishes with a yeasty and peppery dryness from the use of Brettanomyces yeast during maturation. Serve this one with soft cheese and dark rye bread, or as an aperitif.
$3.25 | 330 mL | 9.2%
For those who missed out on December’s limited supply of Westvleteren 12, this strong dark ale is nearly as highly regarded if rather less rare (it’s coming soon to the LCBO’s general listings). Sweeter fruits like banana and fig dominate the nose, and a slight spice gives way to large malt flavours of brown sugar and dark bread, which are balanced when the clove spice returns on the finish. This is truly a world-class beer, and will hold up well against strong cheeses and grilled beef.
Torrechiara Di Losi Giuseppe Panil Barriquée
$14 | 750 mL | 8%
This perennial favourite sour ale from Italy returns next month as part of the spring craft beer release. Bacteria are introduced during the beer’s fermentation, resulting in a tart brew with a champagne-like dryness. It makes a great aperitif.