Photo cred - Steven Goetz Storytelling
While it's completely unfair to compare a Toronto winter to a winter in Waterloo, London, or even Ottawa, it's hard to ignore the pain that's bestowed on those that live in "The 6". Wind tunnels, slush rinks, street corner mountains, and an abundance of slow walkers are living nightmares. Thankfully, there's beer (and not the cheap American kind). Toronto's upped its craft game in the past year and while it can be attributed to trends and mathematical equations, it just means there's more brews to enjoy over the winter months. Here are 10 and remember - a snowed out balcony = a second fridge.
Amsterdam Sour Cherry Imperial Stout
The connoisseurs at Amsterdam Brewing Co. like to get experimental and it shows with their winter creations. Originally brewed in 2013 for the Beast Beer Dinner, the Sour Cherry Imperial Stout is aged in Moldavian cigar barrels before the actual sour cherries are added into the mix and the process helps form a distinguished tart body and a dry cocoa finish.
Amsterdam Wee Heavy Scotch Ale
The Wee Heavy Scotch Ale is another Am-dam Seasonal Series release, but since Scotland isn't synonymous with hops, it favors a sweeter, full-bodied taste. The Scotch Ale brewing process produces a deep copper-brown colour and at 6.2% alcohol, it hits with some power. As Amsterdam brewmaster Jamie Mistry puts it: "This beer is all about warmth and comfort".
Bellwoods Grizzly Beer
Leave it to Bellwoods Brewery to put a grizzly bear on a beer label and call it "Grizzly Beer". Puns aside, the 6.2% American Brown Ale is as fierce as they say it is as it has "a distinctive hoppy bitterness and notes of roasted malt, chocolate, pine, nuts, citrus rind, and dark fruit". As a roided-out pale ale, it's a malty acquaintance that can endure those dead-as-leaves camping trips.
Photo cred - STL Today
Bud Light LimeCran-Brrr-Rita
Okay, okay - Bud Light isn't a exactly a pioneer of wholesome craft brews, but their latest addition to the Bud Light Lime family has returned for the winter months. It's available at select Beer Stores and at 8.0% ABV, it's probably the only cranberry margarita-flavoured beer you'll consume in front of your in-laws, your best friend, or any German Shepherd named Butch.
Collective Arts Rhyme & Reason Extra Pale IPA
Since their inception, Collective Arts Brewing have implemented a masterful balance of producing original craft beers while promoting creative consciousness. They've teamed up with a plethora of visual artists and musicians (METZ, PUP, July Talk), but their 5.7% Rhyme & Reason Extra Pale IPA reigns supreme with a combo of Citra, Chinook, Centennial, and Simcoe hops.
Indie Ale House's Flagship Beers
Don't let the name fool you: Indie Ale House have a beer for everyone. While their flagships are only available on tap or in-store at the Dundas West, they're classic must-haves that explore exotic spices (Barnyard), citrus IPAs (Instigator), rose/lavender/orange hybrids (Broken Hipster), and smooth chocolate malts (Breakfast Porter). In short, it's like "Guess Who?" for your tastebuds.
Mill Street Barley Wine
Barley Wine requires an open, adventurous mind, but it's the right partner for those nights when Netflix is the only thing you need. Mill Street's variation is packed with vanilla/sherry tones and hints of dried fruit that combine with the bit of cinnamon that bourbon whiskey barrel ageing has to offer. It's almost a carbon copy of "Orange Is The New Black", so hey, it'll do.
Mill Street100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager
Mill Street Brewery's Organic Amber Lager is a 5.0%-er that's brewed with organic prairie malt and Bravo and Cascade hops, making it one of the most North American lagers you can find. It's also laced with a balance of malt and hops and a light floral grapefruit/citrus aroma that's satisfactory for the manliest men and their significant others.
Photo cred - Old Yale Brewing
Old Yale West Coast IPA
Chilliwack's Old Yale Brewing certainly belongs to the province of British Columbia, but it's slowly making its way into the cold hearts of Ontarians. Their West Coast IPA is the one to watch as the brewery's change of ownership earlier this year allowed the 6.0% ale to be introduced - showing off a Citra and Galaxy hops combo that pairs well with spicier dishes.
Spearhead Sam Roberts Band Session Ale
The idea of "beers and bands" seems like a very calculated Toronto industry move, but craft beer fanatics be damned, this one's an award winner. The Spearhead Brewing concoction is a 4.5% brewski that features hints of toffee and restrained carbonation that makes it more of an English ale, and as you'd expect, Sam Roberts is a big fan.