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Your Guide to Summer Beers

beers
Our guide will help you find the right beverage for your hot-weather happy place.

There’s nothing more Canadian than cracking a cold one at a backyard barbecue. Our summer beer guide walks you through six sun-ready beer styles that will satisfy your thirst and spark conversation. Fire up the grill (or pull out the salad spinner), because we’ve paired them with recipes and pro serving tips that make entertaining easy—and tasty.

Pilsners

There’s a reason pilsner is the most popular beer style in the world—it’s golden, bubbly and refreshing. Pilsners strike the perfect balance between a bready sweetness and delicate, crisp hops. They’re so versatile you can match them with nearly any summer meal. Think grilled chicken or fish and lighter dishes, such as leafy green, orzo and pasta salads.

Pair Them With

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Green Power Salad with Avocado Dressing

Herb & Garlic Beer Can Chicken with Tomato & Bread Salad                                                                                                  

Serving Tips: Pour pilsner into tall, slim glasses to show off those bubbles. You can fancy it up by using white wine glasses, or put a couple of six-packs on ice and invite guests to crack a bottle at your next barbecue.

Radlers

As the sun shines hotter, brewers are mixing orange, lemon, grape and even passion fruit juice with their lagers or wheat beers. Radler is short for radlermass, a German word meaning “cyclist litre.” Invented in 1922 to quench the thirst of Munich cyclists, this half-juice, half-beer mix is citrusy and so refreshing. We dig radlers’ low-alcohol factor (between 2 and 4 percent) and bright, fruity flavours. The best ones balance sweet and sour, juicy notes with soft grains and grassy hops.

Pair Them With

Strawberry Cobbler

Honey Lime Yogourt Dip with fresh fruit

Serving Tips: Pour radlers into pint glasses, or open a can and get your backyard sipping on.  

IPAs and Session IPAs

India pale ales (IPAs) are zingy, bitter and full-bodied, so they’re a great match for grilled foods such as burgers and ribs. Hops are like grape varietals: Each one brings a different flavour to beer, so no hopped-up IPA is like another. Some show off citrusy flavours; others, guava and passion fruit; and still others, pine or spicy florals. If you prefer a lower-alcohol version, reach for a session IPA. These beauties pair really well with spicier, more intense dishes (such as ribs) and spiced desserts (carrot cake).

Pair Them With:

Fry Bread Tacos with Creamy Slaw

Gold Rush Peameal Chuck Burgers with Ultimate Savoury Summer Sauce

Serving Tips: The aromatics in IPAs shine if you let them warm for 10 minutes before pouring into tulip-shaped or wide-mouthed pint glasses.

Wheat Beers

If there was ever a beer brewed for summer, this is it! Made with 30 to 70 percent wheat malt, this fluffy-headed ale has a unique, tangy flavour and a pale colour. It’s bubblier than other beers, super aromatic, and it may be naturally cloudy. No matter what you call them—witbier, weissbier, hefeweizen—you’ll find wheat beers in stores as the temperature rises. They’re a treat with classic brunch dishes and act like a squeeze of citrus over your favourite grilled fish recipes.

Pair Them With

Classic Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce

Smoked Salmon Poke Salad Bowl

Serving Tips: We love serving wheat beers in champagne glasses with brunch. To tame the foamy head, rinse each glass in cold water before you pour. For German wheat beers, the yeast at the bottom of the bottle must be stirred up and poured into the glass. Pro tip: Pour wheat beer into a tall glass until the bottle is about three-quarters empty, and then roll the bottle in your hands to stir up the yeast before completing the pour.

Sour Ales

These blond or wheat beers get a tart kick from souring yeast or bacteria, such as lactobacillus (the same thing that sours yogurt). They’re also known as Berliner weisses; kettle sours; or goses, which are made with slightly salted water. Sour ales are exploding in popularity among microbreweries and beer fans, who worship their light, bubbly bodies, sharp kick and zippy flavours. Their tang is just right with spicy falafels, seafood rolls and pizza. Fruit-infused sours are great with fruity desserts.

Pair Them With

• Regular sour — pizza with Donair Pizza Drizzle

• Fruit-infused sour — Strawberry Cobbler

Serving Tips: Serve sour ales chilled in tulip-shaped or pint glasses.

Saisons

This medieval beer style is now a hot-weather staple of craft brewers from coast to coast. A quick sip reveals bread dough, grassy hops and stone-fruit flavours with a peppery snap. Dry and bubbly, saisons are a wallet-friendly champagne substitute. We love them served in tall, skinny flutes before dinner or instead of wine with a meal. They are good paired with nearly any dish, so they’re a no-fail, versatile choice. Dishes with loads of fresh herbs or spices (such as Vietnamese, Mexican or Thai fare) are especially good with saisons.

Pair Them With

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Chilled Cucumber & Dill Soup with Rye Croutons

Serving Tip: Let saisons warm up on the counter for 10 minutes before serving. Pour into tulip glasses or champagne flutes.