Remember when wine was hard and beer was easy? Not anymore. With all those craft brews and imports on the shelf, your head’s spinning even before you’ve had a drink. But have no beer-fear, your roadmap to Six Pack City is here — behold Sanagan’s Summertime Beer Simplifier Guide. Let’s go to the hops!
The S.S.B.S.G. is, by its very nature, a reductionist document, so beer geeks please forgive its necessary generalizations and omissions. Brands are cited, in part, based on their availability and existing recognition factor.
THE LAGER FAMILY
LAGERS, PILSNERS, HELLES: Originating in Bavaria and now the most popular style in the world. These are going to be pale yellow or golden in colour, emphasizing thirst-quenching balance between hops and malts. Examples: Creemore Lager, Pilsner Urquell, Collingwood Rockwell Pilsner, Amsterdamn 3 Speed Lager. There are also stronger and darker lagers like Bocks and Dunkels.
THE ALE FAMILY
From the sprightly to the syrupy, this wide-ranging category is united only b itsy top-fermenting yeasts. So here’s a very brief breakdown of ale, what’s good for you.
IPA’S: Big flavours. Piney, grapefruity, often higher alcohol. Muskoka Mad Tom, Beau’s Full Time
PALE ALE: Less hoppy than IPA but still assertive. Sierra Nevada, Junction Conductor
ENGLISH STYLE: A mellow affair. A little darker, touch of fruitiness and sometimes lower alcohol. Henderson’s Best, Fuller’s London Pride
STOUTS AND PORTERS: Very dark, almost black. Coffee and chocolate flavours but not sweet. Guinness, Railway City Black Coal
BELGIAN STYLE: Too diverse to summarize but try the Trappist Ales for yeasty, boozy, fruity, mouth-fillers. Westmalle Dubbel
A hazy beer that derives its fruity-clovey character from its charismatic yeast. Very adaptable with food pairings. Hoegaarden, Side Launch
Originally from Belgium but now popular as an anything-goes New World craft style. Often dry, fruity, expressive. Niagara Oast House. Or Belgium’s Dupont (if you can ever find it).
Another Belgian original enthusiastically embraced by the craft movement. Think sourdough bread but only in a beer, and usually more sour. Sometimes complex, sometimes an acquired taste. Muskoka Ebb and Flow, Bench Brewing Simcoe Grove
Lagers mixed with citrus flavours. Currently very popular and undoubtedly useful on hot summer afternoons. Ace Hill, Schofferhofer Grapefruit
Beer’s cold, it’s made mostly of water and is full of bubbles; it’s going to go well with everything. But if you want to narrow things down — think lighter beers like lagers, wheat’s and some session ales with lighter foods and heavier more alcoholic ales like pale ales and IPAs with heavier dishes. Here’s some free association beer pairings to inspire your desire.
Dry Age Burgers + Lager = Cannonballs off the dock
Sanagan’s All-Beef Hot Dogs + Radlers = Happy birthday to you
House-made Cold Pork Pie + Stout = Premier League
Sanagan’s Grilled Jerk Chicken + Pale Ale = Late nights on the back deck
Sanagans Salads + Saison = Tiff Lightbox Pregame
Bag Of Chips + Pabst Blue Ribbon = Nothing wrong with that
Dried Chorizo + Sour Beer = Modern jazz
House-made Sausage + British Ale = “Maybe a little mustard with that?”
Charcuterie Board + Wheat Beer = Fancy dress picnics
Sanagan’s Cuban Marinade Bavette + IPA = “Burp”
Sanagan’s Teriyake Short Ribs + Belgian Ale = Sticky fingers
Big Juicy Steak + Any Of The Above = Sanagan-tastic!
Maybe it’s not just a coincidence that both of our Sanagan’s locations are within stumbling distance of great local craft brewers. Our Baldwin shop is well served by Kensington Brewery Company’s flagship Fisheye P.A. and our Gerrard location is within a pork chop throw of the cerebral Godspeed You Brewery. If you want to drink like you work at Sanagan’s visit their bottle shops.