Reading: 5 Ontario Craft Beers + Ciders You Need To Chill With

5 Ontario Craft Beers + Ciders You Need To Chill With

It is summer at last and like most I enjoy these long balmy days best while drinking a tall cold one. But alas, not all beers are created equal. The standard bearer is from Quebec, Blanche De Chambly from Unibroue. Freshly poured on tap in the proper glassware with a slice of orange. Enjoyed in the bright sun on a patio. This is the baseline to compare all summer beers. Don’t forget about the joys of a good glass of cider. The depth of quality and creativity in this newly reborn industry has surprised even the most open minded beer lovers. Below are 5 of the best local beers and ciders I have had the pleasure of tasting recently, and accordingly plan to kick back with this summer season.

Black Oak ‘Beat The Heat’ / ABV: 4.5%

Inspired by the farmers of Belgium who would brew beer during winter months for consumption on hot summer days, this Belgian Wheat beer incorporates orange zest and coriander seed to create a light bodied ale with complex earthy and citrus notes. I must admit I had to look past the poorly designed can, but when I did, I discovered an incredible thirst quenching beer almost on par with Blanche de Chambly. I love this guy, with spicy BBQ or grilled octopus. Thankfully this is readily available at the LCBO. A great easy breezy summer-go-to brew!


A photo posted by John McFarland (@johnnydrinks) on


Collective Arts ‘Ransack the Universe’ / ABV: 6.8%

I feel these days about IPAs like I do sushi. I remember the 1st great real IPA I tried, BC’s Red Racer, it was like a revelation. Much like when I moved to Vancouver and tried sushi for the first time, at old school spots like Gyoza King and the original Guu. Yet, unfortunately for both IPA and sushi, soon there was so much everywhere and the quality that was on offer, suffered. I in turn, just retreated from trying new sushi spots or IPAs, and stuck to what I knew and loved best. Every once in a while a new IPA will make me remember once again, why I loved it, that first time. Here you will find flavours of tropical fruits, mango and citrus with a light malt body that lets the hops shine through. It finishes crisp but not bitter. Unlike most summer beers this is not a session ale, but it is all the better for it.


A photo posted by John McFarland (@johnnydrinks) on


Gose Style Beers / ABV: Typically around 4%

A traditional German beer style that is over 400 years old, Gose was all but extinct nearly 30 years ago. Yet now it has made a remarkable comeback and is considered one of the most hip beers on the market this summer. It is an amazingly refreshing beer, brewed with coriander and sea salt with almost no hop bitterness. Like Berliner Weisse beers, a Gose will sometimes be made along with additional citrus fruits. The tart, dry finish combined with the hint of salt and citrus leaves your palate craving for glass after glass. Dangerously, beautiful stuff.

Here locally it can be a little hard to find, but I believe that the brewery’s Burdock and recently opened Halo are creating the best available. From Halo Brewery, try the ‘Ion Cannon’, which is a strawberry-kiwi Gose that packs a brackish blast of tart berry character with a hint of pineapple. Burdock makes my favourite entry yet though, with their ‘Key Lime Gose’, which is a sour wheat beer with Key Lime juice & Himalayan pink salt. Check the breweries in advance, as when they’re available they move fast.



Ernest Cider-Dry / ABV: 6.4%

In the past year, it has been hard cider not craft beer that has been biggest gainer in market share when it comes to the alcohol sales. Since here in Ontario we are one of the world’s biggest producers of apples, it comes at no surprise that we have jumped on this trend and are now producing world class ciders. All of this, within the last 5 years! This past month the industry celebrated with the inaugural Ontario Cider Week, here in Toronto. I attended the kickoff at the grand opening of ‘Her Father’s Cider Bar’; the first dedicated cider bar in Canada, where they have over 100 different ciders available.

While tasting through many of the ciders on offer, I came across this new local treat from Ernest Cider. It is a seven-apple blend that is delicately sweetened with local wildflower honey and a touch of organic cane sugar for a dry, complex flavour. If you want an easy entry point to what is happening right now in local cider, then look no further then here. As this is a new take on cider made in the old world tradition. For me, this is the must go-to local cider of the summer. Plus the design of the can will make you the most stylish drinker at any pool or rooftop party.


A photo posted by John McFarland (@johnnydrinks) on


Revel Cider Hop X / ABV: 6.9%

Much like beer, there is also a micro craft cider market that specializes in the small batch and experimental. Nobody is doing this style of cider better right now then, Revel, located just down the highway in Guelph. This particular cider is dry hopped with ‘Hop X,’ a brand new Ontario hop varietal. That’s right, hops in cider, and it tastes like nothing you have ever drank before. Though this is no weird one-off drain pour, but probably the best thing your will try all summer. The cider enters your mouth with the feel of champagne but then you are hit with the flavor of HopX, which includes orange, strawberry, and lychee. This marriage of Ontario apples with Ontario hops, is a grand celebration of local Ontario agriculture. Available in Toronto on at a few select bar locations, this is an absolute must find.