Three beers to make the Maple Leafs' inevitable first-round Stanley Cup playoffs loss a little bit sweeter this spring

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      For reasons that have nothing to do with blooming flowers, sun, and baby birds being born in backyards, it’s the greatest time of year. Why? That’s easy: playoff hockey. And you know what goes great with playoff hockey? That would be beer. Mix things up with the following more-than-worthy offerings. And please God, make this the Washington Capitals year. Thanks in advance.

      Superflux & Bellwoods Friendshake

      There’s an unwritten rule on the West Coast that, with the possibility of the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s okay to dislike almost everything about Toronto. Which explains why there’s nothing that makes folks in these parts happier than seeing the Maple Leafs get bounced out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Again. Go Lightning!!!

      Vancouver’s ever-inventive Superflux Beer Company gets no small amount of credit then for attempting to do some national bridge-building with Friendshake, a collabo with Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery. Giving credit where it’s due, Superflux explains the tag-team beer with “Bellwoods have a long history of brewing excellent beers of all styles. Since we are big fans of their fruited IPAs we decided to take some tips from them to brew one together.”

      As savvy Canadian Living subscribers know, there’s actually no such thing as a bumbleberry; instead it’s a Maritimes term for the crumble-friendly mixed berries one “bumbles” upon in summer. For the most part that includes blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries (three of which—sorry Vancouver-laneway blackberries!—were part of the brewing process for Friendshake.

      An IPA that will appeal to those who are convinced they don’t like IPAs, Friendshake pours a pleasant pale pink that suggests a perfect union between organic strawberries and backyard rhubarb (for those keeping score, no Maritimer will judge you for adding rhubarb to your bumbleberry pie). Deliciously thick and creamy, Superflux & Bellwoods Friendshake has a secret weapon—Tahitian vanilla—that becomes more and more pronounced as the IPA warms in the glass, but not at the expense of the bumbleberry tartness. Enjoy with a slice of rhubarb pie and Game 6 of the Leafs-Lightning series. And speaking of hockey, all together now: Go Tampa Bay!!

      Phillips Dinosour Stone Fruit Sour

      Here’s something that’s insanely delicious: Sour Patch Kids peach-flavoured candy. Or at least they are until, after eating three bags in one sitting, your tongue starts to feel like you’ve eaten eight family-size bags of Lay’s Salt & Vinegar potato chips. Phillips bills its Dinosaur Stone Fruit Sour as having a “delightfully tart bite”, and there’s definitely truth in advertising there.

      While sour might be the selling point—think nectarines when they’re at their puckering best—there’s also a heady undertow of peach-perfect sweetness here. Think a good Bellini, only in beer form, and spiked with fragrant apricot. The best thing might be is that, even after three cans, your tongue won't feel like someone painted it with three coats of citric acid and then made you eat a dozen Warheads.

      Stanley Park Brewing Trail Hopper IPA

      The beauty of the West Coast is the way the seasons are a tad more defined than in places like the North Pole, Sahara Desert, or Andagoya, Colombia (famous for having one of the most monotonous climates in the world). Now that the winter monsoons have finally passed, it’s time to get outdoors again on the trails of the North Shore, Squamish, Fraser Valley, and (if you’re feeling lazy) Stanley Park. For no other reason than its name, Stanley Park Brewing’s Trail Hopper India Pale Ale is worth popping in the old backpack along with the Clif Bars, Gatorade, and half-dozen Laffy Taffys.

      Punching in at a semi-potent 6.8 percent ABV, Trail Hopper bursts with ripe passionfruit and pineapple on the front end, with pine and grapefruit peel joining the party on the back stretch. While it’s hoppy enough to earn a place on the great Pacific Northwest IPA mantle, you won’t be reaching for a Miller High Life after four sips to take the edge off.

      Now get out there and hit the trails. And don’t forget your raincoat, because while the seasons may change in these parts, there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to be as much as a given as the Toronto Maple Leafs flaming out in round one. Thank you God.