Session beers of summer

Good news for beer lovers: flavourful and easy are becoming less mutually exclusive. These low-impact, locally brewed beers won't rob you of your reason and kick your ass. Cheers to that!


KBCo Watermelon Wheat

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Why Two things that define my Toronto summers (besides professional development in the form of patio drinking): long ambles around the Market and eating myself sick on watermelon. Admittedly, these acts sometimes occur simultaneously. Kensington Brewing Company’s liquid ode to the Market’s famous fruit stands is subtly spiked with everyone’s favourite muggy weather melon. A refreshing choice for fans of unique wheat brews that won’t turn your summer strolls into stumbles.

4.5% ABV

Price 473 ml/$2.95

Availability The Beer Store (sorry, but it’s better than nothing)


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Collective Arts Saint of Circumstance

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Why Saint of Circumstance is best on a scorching day when it can fulfill its purpose as a painless chain-drinkable summer brew with inviting citrus aromas. Those worshipping at the high altar of flavour might find Saint of Circumstance too thin on the finish, but I definitely wouldn’t boot it out of my fridge for being too easy. Since you’re hitting the LCBO, might as well snatch a pack of Collective Arts’ tasty Rhyme And Reason APA, too.

4.7% ABV

Price 6 x 355 ml/$12.95 (on sale till July 20)

Availability LCBO 379966


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Bellwoods Wizard Wolf

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Why A whole city’s worth of beer geeks are yammering about Bellwoods for good reason – the Ossington brew pub is gloriously devoted to full-flavour beers. It’s impossible to talk T.O. session beers without someone – more accurately everyone – bringing up this crisp, citrusy and tropical dry-hopped session ale. Plan a regular pilgrimage to the Bellwoods Bottle Shop (open 11 am to 11 pm daily), and don’t forget your most obnoxiously oversized backpack – this is the kind of beer you want in your fridge for the emergency of everyday life.

4.8% ABV

Price 500 ml/$4.50

Availability At the Bellwoods Bottle Shop, on tap at the brew pub and around town.


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Leftfield Sunlight Park

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Why I’ve been drooling over Leftfield’s draft picks since falling for its silky Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale. Leftfield’s latest, a session saison brewed with the zest of organic grapefruits, is an easygoing option for sun-soaked Sundays… or any day, really. Like all of Leftfield’s products, this one’s name is a baseball reference: Sunlight Park was Toronto’s first professional baseball stadium. Grapefruit can do no wrong to my tongue, and this lovely summer brew gets brownie points for gracefully integrating one of my top five fruits.

Availability On tap at Bar Hop, Bar Volo, Get Well, the Only and other stellar beer-centric establishments, or check out Leftfield at upcoming summer beer festivals and events.


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Side Launch Wheat

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Why Though this is old news to true brew fans, much-loved local legend Denison’s Weissbier has found new life as Side Launch Wheat. Michael Hancock, founding brewer at Denison’s, teamed up with Collingwood’s new Side Launch to rebrand his Hefeweizen. Hazy summer days are best enjoyed with a hazy summer beer, so don’t play shy with the spiffy new can – it contains the same old lemon- and clove-laced goodness. Okay, it’s on the stiff side for a session beer, but it’s a drinkable classic that deserves lots of summer love.

5.3% ABV

Price 473 ml/$2.70

Availability LCBO 385674


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Great Lakes Brewery Chill Winston Grisette

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Why Like most of GLB’s exclusive Tank 10 releases, Chill Winston won’t last long. But while he’s loafing around, best soak up this laid-back brew on a patio, beach, boat, hammock or rooftop – anywhere in the sun. Packing substantial subtleties (tart citrus, a touch of funk) considering its modest alcohol content (3.8%), this brew isn’t called Chill for nothing. So kick back, relax and refresh with Winston spliff pairing recommended but not requisite.

Availability At the GLB shop (30 Queen Elizabeth) while it lasts around town where fine draught is sold


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Muskoka Detour

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Why The first time I wrote about Muskoka Detour, I predicted I’d be swilling more than a few this summer, and my foresight hasn’t failed me yet. Crisp and quenching, with hefty flavour and complexity, considering its stunted ABV, Detour is a quintessential cottage brew. Best enjoyed in a Muskoka chair near an open body of water. Don’t forget to keep your cooler within arm’s reach – you can put away six without doing yourself much damage.

4.3% ABV

Price 6 x 355 ml/$13.65

Availability LCBO 375345


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Nickel Brook Naughty Neighbour American Pale

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Why Naughty Neighbour’s resiny bouquet usually doesn’t introduce a beer under 5% ABV. Hop heads can work their way through a sixer without passing out in a lawn chair and waking up two hours later with a redder neck and drier mouth than [insert name of despicable political figure]. Send a flowery thank you to Nickel Brook for presenting the sole justifiable instance when you can hop in bed with your tasty neighbour.

4.9% ABV

Price 6 x 355 ml/$12.75

Availability LCBO 339416

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