When it comes to summer beer, most Haligonians’ minds turn to light lagers like Spindrift Brewing’s Killick. But as Nova Scotia’s beer scene expands and customers seek new flavours, more local brewers are turning out summer sippers crafted with fruit.
Firstly, fruit beers, radlers, and shandies are easily confused, but are not the same thing. Radler is a German blend of half beer, half fruit soda or lemonade. The beer is brewed, fermented, and then mixed with the soda. Radlers are much sweeter than regular ales. A shandy follows the same process, but offers a longer list of what you can mix with your beer.
Fruit beer can be any beer, though it’s often a wheat or a sour beer, with added juice and whole or puréed fruit. The key to a good fruit beer is that it still has to taste like the beer style. The fruit flavour is a passenger, not the driver.
Sours are made by adding wild yeast to a newly made or already fermented beer. This makes them a particularly good option for adding fruit, as the sweetness balances out the beer’s tart flavour. Sours also share an acidity with wine, which makes them an excellent choice for wine lovers looking to try something new.
(Strawberry rhubarb kettle sour)
Breton Brewing Co.
You’ll find this beer low on the sour side, despite the name and the rhubarb. Its tight bubbles feel soft in your mouth and carry just enough strawberry flavour to know it’s there, but not overwhelm the light malt flavours of the original beer. Try it with a summer salad packed with cucumbers, mint, and lemon.
12 Minutes to Destiny (hibiscus pale lager)
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
While not local, this seasonal is available in private liquor stores. The blend of hibiscus flowers (cranberry-like), rose hips, raspberries, orange peel, and Cascade hops make for a refreshing brew that blends well with the straightforward malts of this pale lager. While low in alcohol, this one will make you pucker.
Arnold’s Apricot Wheat
Boxing Rock Brewing Co.
Brewery co-owner Henry Pedro says he brewed this beer to fill the hole left by Montreal brewery McAuslan pulling its St. Ambrose Apricot Wheat out of the Atlantic market. Unlike a lot of apricot wheat beer you find around, this one packs real apricots for a big juicy flavour. Try it with white cheddar popcorn or grilled salmon.
Mango Basil Saison
Tanner & Co. Brewing
Fruit beers are generally pretty light when it comes to alcohol volume. This beer goes against the grain to be more of a sip-and-share bottle. The style is inherently spicy and slightly sweet. Here you’ll find mango puree and basil leaves added during the boil, and more added during the conditioning of the beer. The second addition heightens the traditional flavour of the base malts to create a complex beer you’ll want to drink slowly and ponder.
Dark Berry Sour
Propeller Brewing Co.
Propeller jumped into the fruit beer market last year with Stone Fruit Summer Ale, and this one followed along shortly after in September. If you missed it last year, get on it now. More sweet than sour, this can bursts with ripe, dark raspberries, blackberries, and blackcurrants. It’s dry-hopped, which adds a note of spice while enhancing the berry flavour.
Jamboree (sour ale)
2 Crows Brewing Co.
If you’re looking for an adult smoothie, this beer will satisfy that craving. Jeremy Taylor,
2 Crows head brewer, says it’s important to him that his fruit beers are true to style first and foremost and contain a massive quantity of fresh, cut fruit. This one will pucker your lips and make you feel like you ate at least two of your five daily servings.
Aquakultre’s Legacy Lager
Good Robot Brewing Co.
Take Alter Egos Café’s (Gottingen Street) blueberry-pineapple breakfast smoothie and blend it with a bright, crisp pilsner and you have a beer for any summer occasion. The pineapple bulks up the mouth-feel so you’d think you’re drinking a far heartier beer. Get it while you can as this was a limited run. A quarter from each glass goes into the fund for Aquakulture’s upcoming album.
Tusket Falls Brewing Company
With its bright, nearly neon-yellow colour, this beer earns its name. It features a basic wheat base built up with Citra hops (think juicy citrus fruits). The brewer added the mango purée after the beer fermented, which means it’s the first thing you taste.