This summer's beers have a distinctly upscale flavour -- microbrews, imports and (check out the massive displays at many LCBO outlets through June) even fruit blends.
NOW gathered some amateur connoisseurs, from journalists to out-of-work dot.comers, to taste the trends. The 45 beers sampled in a blind taste test give a good overview of the best and worst of this summer's beers. And because the test was blind, our panel's tastebuds did the discriminating, free from all the brands' marketing hype.
Among the few brews to score a perfect five were Griffon, from Quebec microbrewery McAuslan's; Liberty Ale, by San Francisco's Anchor Brewing; Toronto's own Hogtown Hemp and Steam Whistle; English-made Old Speckled Hen; Japanese giant Asahi; and Nastro Azzuro, by Italy's Peroni.
The trendy fruit brews didn't make an impact, but there are people who won't drink any other kind.
One big surprise was just how well Blue Light did, with a couple of 4 scores, rating well above regular Labatt's Blue.
(1) Lindemans Pêche Lambic (Belgium) Kool-Aid
(2) Peroni Nastro Azzurro Lager (Italy) clean, bitter, no aftertaste
(3) Grolsch Blond (Holland) bland
(4) Labatt Lager & Lime (Canada) new product, name says it all
(5) Red Stripe (Jamaica) boring
(6) Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale (USA) a standout, distinctive flavour
(7) Steam Whistle Pilsner (Ontario) excellent, very hoppy
(8) Hogtown Hemp Beer (Ontario) wicked, but no THC
(9) Schneider Weisse wheat beer (Germany) fair
(10) Leffe Blond (Belgium) yeasty
(11) Upper Canada Lager (Canada) balanced, little character
(12) Panama Lager (Panama) what Corona ought to be
(1)3 Dos Equis Amber (Mexico) refreshing, unexciting
(14) Quidi Vidi Kriek (Nfld) marzipan
(15) Moosehead Pale Ale (NB) smooth but bland
(16) Kawartha Lakes Raspberry Wheat Beer (Ontario) fruity, light
(17) Sol (Mexico) bland
(18) Coronal (Mexico) blander
(19) Cristal (Cuba) blandest
(20) Unibroue Blanche de Chambly (Quebec) classic wheat
(21) Creemore Springs Premium Lager (Ontario) full-bodied
(22) La Chouette Framboise (France) pretty colour, sweet, pleasant
(23) Asahi Super Dry (Japan) crisp, appealing
(24) McAuslan Griffon Extra Pale Ale (Quebec) happy hops
(25) St. Peter's Lemon & Ginger Spiced Ale (England) very dry
(26) Hacker-Pscherr Weisse (Germany) banana
(27) Chapeau Kriek Lambic (Belgium) cherry pop
(28) Mort Subite Cassis Lambic (Belgium) vodka cooler
(29) Sleeman Cream Ale (Ontario) a reliable standard
(30) Roggenbier rye beer (Ontario) spicy, unique
(31) Pilsner Urquell (Czech) refreshing, pleasant
(32) Rickard's Gold (Canada) unremarkable
(33) Wellington County Arkell Best Bitter (Ontario) has bite
(34) Taj Mahal Lager (India) gassy
(35) Dragon's Breath Pale Ale (Ontario) pronounced hoppy flavour
(36) Stella Artois Lager (Belgium) disappointing