A Beer Skeptic’s Guide To The Best Summer Ales

With the huge number of crisp, clean, flavourful and fruity options out there, it may be time to reconsider this whole ‘I’m not a beer person’ thing.

Aurora Browne of the Baroness Von Sketch Show.

Aurora Browne of the Baroness Von Sketch Show. Photo, Matt Barnes

Read more from Chatelaine’s guide to summer — including style picks, a guide to must-see tv and movies, and a toolkit for sweaty gals, all starring the women from Baroness Von Sketch Show. (All services and products recommended by Chatelaine staff and experts).

If you haven’t cracked a cold one in a while, it may be time to reconsider this whole “I’m not a beer person” thing. Whatever your qualm about Canada’s national dockside beverage (too bloaty? too hoppy?), this list of summer suds has something for everyone.

Crisp and clean: Like jumping into a lake!

Side Launch Mountain Lager, $4, lcbo.com

It’s lighter and crisper than a lot of the German-style lagers, with notes of apple and honey. “It’s what I would call a crushable summer lager—it’s not going to make you feel bloated,” says Lauren Richard, certi ed cicerone and a recent champ on Viceland’s Beerland competition show.
Pair with: Nachos

Side Launch Brewing Company mountain lager in blue can

Side Launch Brewing Company Inc.

Coors Banquet, $3, lcbo.com

The cool older cousin of Coors Light is “the ultimate ‘I just want a beer’ beer,” says Crystal Luxmore, advanced cicerone and co-founder of the Beer Sisters event company. It’s got a little more flavour but is still super crisp with zero aftertaste. Plus, the retro cans look great in a cooler.
Pair with: Salad with croutons or grilled cheese

Coors Banquet beer in yellow can.

Coors Banquet.

Phillips Bottle Rocket, $15/pack of 6, thebeerstore.ca

This India session ale delivers a punchy aroma of fruits and citrus but isn’t super bitter.
Pair with: Chips and guacamole

Phillips Brewing Company Bottle Rocket beer on graphic design poster

Phillips Brewing Company.

Beau’s Lug Tread Lagered Ale, $17/pack of 4, lcbo.com

Often referred to as a gateway to craft beer, this is going to pass muster with your beer-snob friends and your Bud-loving gramps.
Pair with: BBQ chicken

Beau's Lug Tread lagered ale in a bottle.


Cream Ale By Frank Brewing Co., $4, lcbo.com

This golden, slightly sweet but still crisp cream ale is the kind of beer you reach for after a long day of work—or lounging on the dock.
Pair with: Spicy Asian ribs

Frank Brewing Co. Cream Ale in yellow can

Frank Brewing Co.

Light and fruity: If you’re more of a cooler type

Ace Hill Radler, $4, lcbo.com

The latest from Toronto’s trendiest brew shop “doesn’t taste like a Jolly Rancher, which is
the trouble with a lot of the radlers,” says Luxmore. It’s made with real fruit juice (orange, lemon and peach) and a low alcohol content of 2.5 percent.
Pair with: A fruity dessert

Ace hill radler can

Ace Hill.

Collective Arts Dry Hop Sour With Passion Fruit & Peach, $5, store.collectiveartsbrewing.com

“Fruit sours have been a big hit with people who don’t tend to love beer,” says Richard. This one is more tart
than bitter, and light in the hops department.
Pair with: Ice cream or summer salads

collective arts dry hop sour with passion fruit and peach in orange can

Collective Arts Brewing.

Duxbury Dry Hopped Cider, $4, lcbo.com

More apple-y than beer, more beery than cider, this is a “perfect mash-up of the two— crisp and fresh and not at all sweet,” says Richard.
Pair with: Pasta salad

duxbury cider co. dry hopped cider in red and white can

Duxbury Cider Co.

For oenophiles: No more wine-ing! Grab a brew

Rodenbach Fruitage, $7

Beer avours mixed with dark fruits and subtle balsamic avour. “If you love red wine you will loooove this beer,” says Luxmore.
Pair with: A lamb burger, or anything gamey

Rodenbach Brewery fruitage in red can

Rodenbach Brewery.

Burdock Tuesday Saison, $6, burdockto.com

Notes of pineapple, spice, clove and fresh straw provide plenty of fodder for discussion if there’s a white-wine-lover in the group.
Pair with: Mussels

Burdock Tuesday Saison in can with pink label and white text.


The dry option: Because hangovers never take a vacation

PC Lemonade Radler, presidentschoice.ca

This booze-free option is equal parts lemonade and (de-alcoholized) lager, which gives it an authentic beery-but- not-too-beery taste. And zero hangover.
Pair with: Spring rolls

President's Choice Lemonade Radler box of 12

President’s Choice.

Get Chatelaine in your inbox!

Our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers. Delivered a couple of times a week.