Posts Tagged ‘summer

Be sure you taste these top-five summer brews

- June 18th, 2013

I have you covered this summer.

With Friday being the first official day of summer, I have made my top-five easy picks for those thirsty beer drinkers who are looking to try some great brews that are perfect for the season.

ThePicture 3se bottles of suds are the perfect way to enjoy a hot summer’s day on a patio or responsibly around a fire in a campground somewhere in Alberta. You can find all of these brews in a specialty beer store near you.

And if you think you know a better summertime beer out there, please leave a comment below or send me an email at jeff.cummings@sunmedia.ca.

5th — WRaspberry Ale from Wild Rose Brewery in Calgary

WRasberry Ale has always been a favourite of mine.

Sure, fruit and beer don’t always mix, but this awesome Calgary-based raspberry brew is tasty.

The ale has a nice light-pink colour and it does offer a tart-like taste.

It’s a great ale to enjoy when temperatures outside are scorching.

And the best food pairings to go with WRaspberry Ale include a green salad with a raspberry vinaigrette, fruit salad, or fresh mozzarella cheese.Picture 4

4th — Wild Honey Organic Ale from the Nelson Brewing Company in Nelson, B.C.

This smooth tasting ale is a hidden gem in B.C’s West Kootenay region.

This is a nice, light tasting brew that includes organic malted barely and organic honey from Three Hills, Alta.-based Golden Acres Honey.

And what a combination — it’s delicious.

This NBC brew leaves a hint of honey in your palate and offers up a fruity smell.

It goes well with apple slices, a light salad, or swiss cheese.

3rd — Pale Ale from Idaho-based Laughing Dog Brewing

I remember this day well.

Picture 5After driving non-stop from Seattle last September, my wife and I stayed overnight in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

I drove for five hours and I needed a break.

We sat down in a restaurant next to our hotel and I ordered a local beer after hearing the waiter explain to me — in great detail — why I should try this local brew.

I obviously caved to pressure because I was extremely tired, but I’m glad he introduced me to this ale.

The Laughing Dog Brewing company has brewed beer in Sandpoint, Idaho since 2005 and its Pale Ale is super tasty.

It offers a floral, citrusy taste and its balanced bitterness makes it the perfect brew to go with a meal that includes grilled fish.

2nd — Charlie Flint’s organic lager from Edmonton-based Alley Kat Brewing Company

Odds are if I am entertaining you in my house, bottles of this tasty lager from Alley Kat will be stocked in my fridge.

And there’s a reason for that. Picture 6

It a smooth-drinking brew that offers up the right level of bitterness from the hops.

It’s a great European-style lager to enjoy in a backyard patio during a hot day and it goes well with a meal that includes a planked salmon or bruschetta.

According to the Edmonton beer company, the lager is also ideal with Thai, Pan-Asian, Mexican, Peruvian and other spicy cuisines.

Picture 81st — Grasshopper Wheat Ale from Big Rock Brewery in Calgary

If you’re a beer snob — like me — and you live somewhere in Alberta, odds are you’ve tried Big Rock’s Grasshopper Wheat Ale.

This longtime Calgary brewery has made this unique classic wheat ale since 1994 and it’s a summertime favourite.

This smooth-drinking tasty beer offers up the right amount of hops and it offers up a crisp finish making it the perfect brew to enjoy every summer.

It also offers up a unique, citrusy-sweet taste on your palette making Grasshopper the perfect ale for barbecued meals like smoked fish, grilled chicken, or shrimp.

Summer sippin’ (UPDATED)

- May 30th, 2012

pineapple ginger margarita
The delicious Pineapple Ginger Margarita. Photo courtesy Earls

Now that we’re finally approaching summer (and here’s hoping Calgary avoids the usual June monsoon), we can start thinking patio.

I know for many of you, patio means pitchers of beer. But a man cannot live on beer alone.

As I learned in my youth, spending many a hot afternoon on the rooftop patio at Edmonton’s Black Dog Freehouse sipping Bombay gin and tonic, there’s nothing more refreshing than fine spirits and crisp flavours, over ice.

I know a good cocktail can be a pain. Getting quality ingredients, and preparing them in the proper fashion is work. Muddling, mixing, sugaring, stirring, shaking. It’s a chore. But there is quite the art to making a great mojito or margarita from scratch, and it’s way better than the lime-ish slush you get at a lot of restaurants.

But that fresh, from-scratch approach is cropping up on patios this summer.

Cameron Bogue, beverage director for Earl’s Restaurants, told me he wanted to bring a “simple and fresh” approach to the company’s cocktail program.

“The prime reason for me to work for Earl’s was a fresh-made drinks program,” he said.

The company already promotes the same philosophy in their kitchens, so he “knew he’d be able to execute and in-house bar program as well.”

While the bartenders may not have enjoyed the new workload, with syrups made in-house and lemons and limes juiced daily, Bogue said they were on board with his philosophy of what makes a great cocktail: “good base spirit, something sweet, something sour and something unique.”

And it’s hard to argue when you taste what’s on offer, like the pineapple and ginger margarita. It’s a combination you wouldn’t expect, El Jimador tequila, lime, ginger simple syrup and muddled fresh pineapple, and it comes with a kick in the form of a sugar/salt/cayenne-rimmed glass. I had a chance to make a home version of the drink, pictured above, and while it was more work than I’d like to take on regularly, I’d happily order it while enjoying a sun-baked Calgary afternoon. It is all the things Bogue wants in a good cocktail. And it tastes great.

Bogue said he’s pleased with the creative concoctions, including the Honey Badger, the Earls take on a whiskey sour made with Jack Daniels, house made honey syrup, apple juice and fresh squeezed lemon juice; and the Plan B, a gin-based cocktail based on an entry in a chain-wide staff contest, which features Bombay Sapphire gin, blueberry puree, fresh basil, house made simple syrup and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

A full list of delicious bevvies can be found on Earls’ website, or at a location near you.

Meanwhile, over at Cactus Club Cafe, they launched their 98 Days of Summer with a trio of seasonal specialty drinks. From May 27 to Sept. 3, the chain is running a list of 17 different weekly drink specials, but it’s the trio of summer-only libations that catches the attention.

There’s the Watermelon Margarita, made with Cuervo Gold tequila, fresh squeezed watermelon juice and lemon. The Sunset Soda, a vodka and soda topped with a splash of peach bellini. But tops on my “want to try” list is their spin on a Gin N’ Juice (for all you Snoop Dogg fans out there) — a gin and tonic with a splash of grapefruit juice.

If that doesn’t whet your whistle, I’m not sure what would.

Cheers, and try not to get a sunburn.