Five Toronto brewmasters answer the question: What beer do you drink when you're not drinking your own?
Jason Britton, Cameron's Brewing
Britton is currently working on Cameron's barrel aging program and its new Serious wheat ale. Perhaps it was this undertaking that prompted Britton's first endorsement, Denison's Weissbier (at the LCBO and most beer bars).
"I've been to Germany to study weissbier. You've got to taste them at the source, and Denison's stacks up, top shelf." Also receiving props on the local front is Mill Street's Cobblestone Stout (at some beer bars). "It's a really excellent stout with great balance, finesse and restraint. For somebody not accustomed to the style, it's a great introduction."
Simon Dacosta, Black Oak Brewing
Dacosta hopes to have a new Black Oak brand out before 2013, and part of his R&D is keeping abreast of the competition, especially if it's black.
"I love porters and stouts like Great Lakes Oak Barrel Aged Anniversary Porter (no longer in production) - vanilla and a hint of bourbon. And Cheshire Valley Porter (at some beer bars) - well-balanced, dry finish. Also, King Dark Lager - it drinks like a normal lager, really dry, really clean, but with just a touch of biscuit and caramel flavour.
"When I end up in a bar without craft beer, I look for Molson Stock (at the Beer Store and some bars), all malt beer, same recipe since 1908, or Buzz by Cool (at the LCBO, the Beer Store and some bars), an underrated beer that you can find in unexpected places."
Joel Manning, Mill Street Brewery
Manning's been keeping busy with Mill Street's successful new brew pub in Ottawa, but that hasn't stopped him from exercising his palate.
"If you're a beer designer, you have to have a sense of everything that's out there. You have to have context."
Context, at this time of year, includes Wernesgrüner Pilsner (at LCBO, the Beer Store and most beer bars).
"Northern German style, very pale, almost colourless, really light, snappy and herbal. That's what I drink in the backyard when I'm not drinking Mill Street.
"When I go out, I drink Deuchars IPA (on draft at the Caledonian, 856 College). I have a massive sentimental attachment to that beer. It just makes me happy. Another one I like is Lake of Bays Pale Ale (at the LCBO, the Beer Store and most beer bars): local, consistent, well made, straight-up easy drinking."
Iain McOustra, Amsterdam Brewery
Having collaborated with Mike Lackey of Great Lakes Brewery on the prizewinning Amsterdam Leipziger Gose, it's not surprising that McOustra cites Great Lakes No Chance With Miranda Saison (at some beer bars, limited release) as one of his favourite non-Amsterdam beers.
It will be a while before No Chance is available again at local bars, but you shouldn't have any trouble finding King Vienna Lager (at the LCBO, the Beer Store and some beer bars). "I'm a sucker for King", says McOustra. "You can get hung up on various styles, but it's a world-class example of a classic lager. Farther afield, he recommends Belgium's Orval ale (at some beer bars): "Really interesting, dry hops, Brettanomyces, complex, drinkable."
Victor North, The 3 Brewers
North explains that the Toronto location of the Belgium-based chain "makes lots of sessionable [easy to drink] beer, so I look for more extreme styles."
North suggests examples like Phillips Ginger Beer (at the LCBO and some beer bars) from Victoria. "It doesn't wimp out on the ginger," he enthuses. He also gives the nod to Schneider Hopfen-Weisse (at the LCBO and some beer bars), a collaboration between Schneider's Hans-Peter Drexler and Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver: "8.2 per cent alcohol, lots and lots of flavour, yeast character, spicy."
On a slightly less exotic plane, North likes a couple of GTA beers. "Black Oak Pale Ale (at the LCBO, the Beer Store and most beer bars) is a solid sessionable ale. It's just good beer. And Cameron's Dark266. It's a dark beer, but it's not super-heavy (at the LCBO, the Beer Store and some beer bars)."