There are so many different ways to enjoy summer in British Columbia, whether it’s camping, hiking, biking or climbing in the mountains, fishing in rivers and streams, swimming and boating in the Okanagan, sailing along the coast, or enjoying urban pursuits in the cities. Whatever your favourite summer activity is, BC’s craft brewers are working overtime to make sure they have a summer-themed beer for you to enjoy. Here are some of summer craft beer picks to look for.
“Radler” means “cyclist” in German, but it also refers to a uniquely German blend of lager and juice that has been popular there for a century as a low-alcohol beverage to enjoy alongside summer activities (hence the name). When the Austrian brewery Stiegl launched its Grapefruit Radler in tall cans here last year it was a huge hit. This summer, a few BC breweries have released their own versions, including Kelowna’s Tree Brewing and Vancouver’s Parallel 49 Brewing. Tree’s 50-50 blend is a little lighter (2.5% ABV) and slightly sweeter with more carbonation, while P49’s very pink Tricycle Radler (3.5% ABV) is 70% lager and 30% juice. Both are uniquely refreshing in the hot summer sun. Tree sells its in single 500-ml cans while P49’s is packaged in six-packs of 355-ml cans.
When Victoria’s Moon Under Water brewpub decided to launch its new Light Side of the Moon Session Lager, brewmaster Clay Potter wanted to package the beer in cans for people to take camping or load into a cooler. The problem was his brewery is simply too small for a canning system. The solution? A new company called West Coast Canning that brought their mobile system to the Moon for a day of canning. The beer, by the way, is delicious: much more flavourful than you’d expect for a 4.2% “session beer,” and very, very thirst quenching.
The origins of the Pilsner style date back to the 1838 when the citizens of Plzen, Czechoslovakia dumped out a bunch of beer barrels to protest the poor quality of their local beer. The town council responded by opening the Citizens’ Brewery and hiring a Bavarian brewmaster. The resulting Pilsner beer, which merged German brewing techniques with lightly roasted malts and spicy Czech hops, was a huge success, and its popularity continues to this day—it is the world’s most-produced beer style, albeit in much-watered-down versions. Authentic Pilsners, like these two new versions from Nelson Brewing and Fernie Brewing, are light-bodied but still very flavourful, and ideal summer sippers.
Cannery Brewing is located in one of the most beautiful parts of British Columbia, the small city of Penticton which is situated between Okanagan Lake to the north and Skaha Lake to the south. With summer temperatures often reaching into the high 30s (near 100 Fahrenheit), locals and visitors alike spend a lot of time in the water. One popular activity is leaping off the Skaha Bluffs into the cooling waters below, as depicted on the label of Cannery’s new summer ale. The beer is a great choice for enjoying in the sunshine—smooth and easy drinking with a little burst of citrusy hops.
Four Winds Brewing recently celebrated its first birthday, but this Delta brewery is already winning raves from BC beer lovers, as well as awards: Four Winds won a silver medal at the prestigious World Beer Cup earlier this year for its Juxtapose Brett IPA, one of only two BC breweries (along with Steamworks) to win medals. Four Winds’ line-up is solid across the board, and its latest seasonal release, Phaedra Belgian Rye IPA, is another extra special brew. I first tasted it as one of the judges at the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale back in April where we picked it for Best in Show, and I’ve been waiting impatiently ever since for it to come out in bottles. Full-bodied with a melon-citrus backbone, it is absolutely delicious. Get some before it disappears.
Have a great summer!