If wet West Coast winters are all about gloriously thick oyster stouts, German doppelbocks, and peat-smoked porters, then summer is for keeping things light. While you won’t go wrong with Red Truck’s Baja Bound Mexican Lager or Andina Brewing Company’s Totuma Kölsch, that shouldn’t stop you from fully leaning into the season.
And a great way to do that is by reaching for beers that bring to mind some of the greatest things about summer: shopping for peaches, cherries, and apricots at Granville Island, stopping at Okanagan fruit stands, and raiding your neighbours’ crab-apple tree and strawberry patch in East Vancouver.
The following beers are all perfect for the hopefully, hot, muggy, and forest-fire free times ahead. Break out the shorts and flip-flops, pop a top, and climb into the hammock. The rain is about to go away for a couple of months. Make the most of it because the oyster stout can wait.
Superflux Orange Cream Fountainbier
You know how sometimes—which is to say most of the time—you’ll take home a beer simply because it sounds amazing. And how, despite a label that promises Arizona rattlesnake venom, Manila clams, or Voodoo chocolate-banana donuts, it tastes like Pabst Blue Ribbon, only less hipster-cool? The brilliance of Superflux Orange Cream is that it’s not only the colour of orange pop, but it tastes like a three-way between a Jones soda, Creamsicle, and crisp Pilsner that someone has melted a tangerine Jolly Rancher in. Walk, don’t run, to the East Van brewery with the best label art in show business, because Superflux Orange Cream will make you wish that the summer of 2021 never ends. And given the kind of year it’s been—again—that’s truly saying something.
Backcountry Brewing Loud Noises!
A drunk man—Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices in case you’re curious—once noted that liquor stores were basically candy stores for adults. That line of thinking holds true for the Backcountry Brewing tasting room. Along with Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief, the award-winning brewery is as good a reason as any to say goodbye to overrun Vancouver for the day and head up the Sea-to-Sky, the windows rolled down, and the Gun Club’s Fire of Love cranked on the stereo. Those of the opinion that there’s no such thing as too out-there when it comes to beer have plenty of options to choose from at Backcountry, including the mango-coconut-lime sour Mine Goes to Eleven and Boy That Escalated Quickly (a blackberry-raspberry, and, yes, marshmallow sour). We’re making room in the car trunk next week for a flat of seven of Loud Noises!, a banana and passion-fruit sour that goes deliciously heavy on the Chiquitas. Yes, some candy stores are better than others.
Stanley Park Brewing Fruit Stand Mix Pack
Few fruits are more polarizing than, well, everything in the melon family. Somewhere out there there’s someone who doesn’t find watermelon, honeydew melon, golden Langkawi melon, sprite melon, and cantaloupe disgusting. To include any, or all, of those atrocities in a fruit salad is to instantly pollute the grapes, pineapple, oranges, and durian. Big props then to Stanley Park Brewing for its Melon Wheat Ale, which is floral enough to please fans of the Cucurbitaceae family, but understated to where it’s perfectly drinkable for the rest of us. Along with an equally delicate Sunsetter Peach Wheat Ale and Mango Wheat Ale, Stanley Park’s Melon Wheat Ale is so light it almost seems like a seltzer. At 4.8 percent ABV all three Stanley Park Brewing Fruit Stand beers pack a decent punch though, which is to say after two or three the last thing you’ll feel like doing is mowing the lawn. And, when summer’s here, there’s zero reason to feel guilty about that.
Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks Kiwami Plum Sour
All right, let’s admit: as much as you’re normally loath to leave Vancouver in the summer months, right now you’d give whatever’s left in your overdraft to get on a plane. Anywhere would be great—New York, London, Paris, Munich, or even Munich, North Dakota. But most of all—because you’ve just finished watching Lost in Translation, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Akira, and Godzilla—you want to go to Tokyo. More importantly, you’ll do that even though it means bailing on the West Coast during the only three-month period of the year where it doesn’t piss rain like the first two hours of Seven. Until dreams come true, Fuggles & Warlock’s Kiwami Plum Sour will transport you to a better, most exotic place—hello Shibuya!—with a wheat beer that packs a pleasingly tart kick. A word to the wise: the last thing you want to do is leave your six pack, flat, or shipping container sitting out in the summer sun. Kiwami (a Japanese word which translates to “extreme” in English) is brewed with fresh plums, which necessitates the beer being refrigerated at all times. The way the weather often goes in these parts, that probably means you can leave it on the balcony until the first week of August.
Powell Brewery Southern Belle
As much as this will enrage the more patriotic Canadians among us, God Bless America. Sure, the United States has its problems—Trumpism, gun violence, and the continued existence of Ted Nugent—but it’s also a shit-ton of fun. Hands up if you’ve been lucky enough to spend an afternoon lounging on an expansive front porch in Savannah, Georgia, with Willie Nelson on the stereo and the smell of honeysuckle hanging thick in the air. Powell Brewery Southern Belle takes its inspiration from one of the most magical regions of America, with classic peaches and cream providing the leaping-off point. Pilsner, wheat, and oat malts are used to create a Berliner weisse-style beer, with peaches, apricots, and vanilla added on the back end. Cue up Django Unchained, crack open a soft pack of Marlboro Lights, and pour a Southern Belle for a taste of all you’ve missed out on by avoiding the American South—porch swing optional.