You’re down to your final few hours to buy the perfect gift for the craft-beer fans on your list.
Relax, there’s no need to panic.
With some 500 Ontario craft beers on the market, a well-chosen 12-pack featuring something new-to-you is never far.
Here’s a group of 12 from across our province which should appeal to the craft-beer explorers on your list.
Cameron’s Brewing Cosmic Cream Ale, Oakville. A gold-medal winner at provincial and national competitions, as well as the U.S. Open Beer Championship, Cosmic Cream Ale sets the standard for the style.
Maclean’s Farmhouse Blonde, Hanover. Nothing bland about this gem from Grey County. It showcases Ontario hops and malted barley and while most reach for it in the summer, I’ll enjoy it equally as much on a sunny winter’s day.
Sawdust City Skinny Dippin’ Stout, Gravenhurst. Chocolatey delicious, the name evokes cheeky nights at the cottage.
Big Rig Tales of the Patch, Kanata. Sure, you could argue a pumpkin porter is best left behind in October. But the can alone, which glows in the dark, amuses. If you’re serving pumpkin pie at Christmas, so much the better.
Redline Brewhouse Check Engine American Amber, Barrie. Who doesn’t like an amber? Clean, floral and acceptable to all. You may have to trek to Barrie for this, or sub Redline Clutch American Pale Ale to keep your engine running.
Wellington Special Pale Ale, Guelph. Got British roots? Wellington SPA is the famous Guelph brewery’s take on a traditional British pale ale. Serve it warm, if you must. Easy to find and Wellington’s most popular brew.
Collective Arts Ransack the Universe Hemispheric IPA, Hamilton. Worth it just to ponder the artwork, which on the can is some kind of ukulele-playing gremlin, Ransack the Universe is made with hops from Australia and Washington State. Go ahead, debate if it qualifies as an Ontario beer.
Lake of Bays Spark House Red Ale, Baysville. A spark house is one of those lonely towers standing above the forest, all the better from which to see forest fires. Likewise, Spark House Red Ale stands out from the forest of Ontario’s near north.
Collingwood Brewery Saison, Collingwood. There’s more than skiing and old tales of shipbuilding in Collingwood. There’s also craft beer, lots of it. This party saison is a strong 7 per cent alcohol, so go easy.
Side Launch Wheat, Collingwood. A delicious wheat beer with a banana flavour, each can comes marked with longitude and latitude. If you run those numbers, do you end up at the brewery?
High Park Brewery, Across the Pond English Special Ale, Toronto. What’s a craft beer 12-pack without Toronto? Across the Pond was a winner at the 2016 Ontario Brewing Awards and if it reminds you of Cambridge, England, that’s intentional. Must be preceded by that old British chestnut of a toast, “May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”
Niagara College Butler’s Bitter, Niagara-on-the-Lake. The kids are all right, at least those under the tutelage of Jon Downing et al whose college lessons include brewing this ode to 200 years of peace between Canada and the United States. This rye-bread-meets-black-coffee recipe is a history lesson with every sip.
Can your recipient wait until January to enjoy a gift if it means becoming a wiser craft beer person?
Tickets are on sale now via Eventbrite for a beer and glassware pairing event at Forked River in London on Jan. 18.
For $50, you get four high-end Spiegelau glasses ideal for an IPA, stout, wheat and barrel-aged beer.
And you get them filled with the likes of a Mojo, Lord Simcoe’s Revenge, Blackbeerd and Weendigo while listening to an expert explain the difference using the proper glassware for beer can make.
You’ll never drink from the can or bottle again.