Eight exciting craft beers hitting LCBO shelves in time for summer
The LCBO’s line up of summer brews has slowly started appearing in stores since the end of last month. Bottles include both the rare finds that keep beer geeks buzzing and more accessible upgrades on the usual mix of lagers, pilsners and ales. The summer release also moves away from the hop bombs that currently dominate craft brewing—and recently received criticism for basically ruining beer—toward yeast strains like saisons (think light, refreshing farmhouse ales) and specialized sours (acidic, tart beers). We pick eight of the very best below.
3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze
$23 | 750 ml | 6%
The LCBO brought in 630 bottles of the Belgian geuze and already less than 100 are left (three-quarters are stocked at the Dufferin and Wilson location). A blend of one, two and three-year-old barrel-aged lambics, the collaboration between Belgium’s Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen and California’s Lost Abbey is spontaneously fermented with wild yeast and aged for another two years in the bottle. The taste is a beautifully struck balance between tart funkiness (it smells a bit like sharp cheese) and acidic dryness.
Cameron’s The Obsidian
$11 | 650 ml | 9.2%
The imperial porter is the newest release in Cameron’s barrel-aged series and it packs punch with nearly 10 per cent alcohol content and big roasted malt and chocolate flavours. Aged for seven months in Caribbean rum barrels, there’s a hint of smokey-sweetness on the finish. Drink it slightly chilled on a cooler night rather than midday sweltering on a patio.
Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Saison
$10 | 750 ml | 6%
The saison from Charlevoix is delicate on the nose and palate with notes of banana, clove, pepper and bready yeast. The crisp finish balances the initial hit of fruit. It’s a good choice to counter the hot summer sun.
Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge
$3 | 330 ml | 5.5%
An unblended Belgian lambic spontaneously fermented and then aged for 18 months in oak barrels in the Cognac region of France. Full bodied and robust, it balances malty sweetness, sharp acidity and vanilla, cherry, stone fruits and cocoa notes. At the relative bargain price of a little over three bucks, we think it’s the best pick of the lot.
Founders Centennial IPA
355 ml | $13.50 for 6 | 7.2%
The refreshing and complex IPA is the first addition to the LCBO’s general listings from Michigan’s Founders Brewing Company. It has a floral and grassy bouquet, juicy citrus and pine flavours and a malty sweetness that balances bitter dry hops. At $13.50 for a six-pack, it also won’t break the bank.
Goose Island Sofie
765 ml | $9.95 | 6.5%
The Chicago-based microbrewery continues to come up with innovate takes on classic brews (even after being bought by mainstream beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev). The Sofie is brewed with wild yeast strains and aged in wine barrels with orange peel. The saison is tart, dry and effervescent with subtle notes of white pepper and citrus and a light, refreshing vanilla finish. Try it to replace sparkling wine while picnicking at the park.
Thornbridge Kipling South Pacific Pale Ale
500 ml | $5 | 5.2%
Brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand, the English-style pale ale’s grassy nose and kiwi and passion fruit flavours are reminiscent of a glass of sauvignon blanc. Firmly hopped and lightly carbonated, it drinks easily and is the perfect summer refreshment.
Le Trou du Diable Shawinigan Handshake
$5 | 500 ml | 7%
The Weizen Bock (typically a stronger and darker wheat beer with more malt and alcohol) delivers the best of a wheat beer and an IPA in one intense brew. Notes of cinnamon and banana bread give way to a resinous backbone and a dry, crisp finish. The unique take on a traditional German style is definitely fun to drink.