A Guide to Spring Beers and Beer Events

By: Brendan Ross

Between the snow, ice, piercing winds, and mountains of road salt, it’s been the kind of winter one drinks to forget. But now spring is in the air, with its promise of flowers, birds, and no more long johns. Patios are filling up again, outdoor events are being planned, and a new crop of seasonal beers is arriving in time for the warmer weather. Here are some ideas for what to drink and where to drink it this spring.


Seasonal Beer at the LCBO and Beyond

Coming off successful stints with Quebec brewers in fall and Michigan’s Founders Brewing Co. in winter, the LCBO is getting a little more local with its latest seasonal brewery feature. Four new barrel-aged beers by Ottawa Valley’s Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.—all inspired by ancient Mesopotamian mythology and each wrapped unnecessarily in individual paper packaging—are on liquor store shelves. Appropriate for the transitional early spring weather, the Gilgamesh old ale is a darker beer aged in rum barrels, with notes of toffee and roasted nuts on the nose and a fairly sweet taste that’s offset by rum and a bitter finish. The Ashnan wheat wine is lightly floral, with some white wine, hops, and citrus. TheSiduri white pepper saison packs some spice, along with grape flavours. There’s also a ginger beer that, frankly, this writer couldn’t muster the guts to try. Overall, it’s a decent showing, but at nearly $10 a bottle, you might want to go in on a few bottles with some friends for a tasting, and save your money for other things.

Things, for instance, like Thrust!—a new ale from Etobicoke’s Great Lakes Brewery that simultaneously proves that punctuation is the new frontier in goofy beer names and that the brewers at Great Lakes know how to make hoppy beer really well. A light, cloudy ale with tropical fruit flavours and lots of satisfying hops, enjoying it is the perfect way to pretend that whole winter thing never happened. You can find it on tap at various pubs throughout the city.

And for a barrel-aged beer that really excites the senses, pick up a bottle of Bellwoods Brewery’s Lambda. It’s a complex Belgian-style quadrupel that’s aged in red wine barrels and tastes like it, with notes of coffee, raisin, and chocolate, and a tartness that lingers. At $12 a bottle it isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth the trip to Ossington to try it out.

A bit later this spring, look out for Collective Arts Brewing’s second beer, the Saint of Circumstance blonde ale, on LCBO shelves. The people at Collective Arts may not be as prolific as other brewers, but what they do make, they make very well. You can also pick up the brewery’s first beer, Rhyme and Reason, complete with some fancy new labels, at the liquor store.

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Collective Arts Brewing