Brews News: Muskoka Brewery offerings make us think of summer

Champing at the bit to get to cottage country? There are ways to get there without breaking the last few days of our latest COVID-19 lockdown.

Nothing brings you to a Canadian summer state of mind like Muskoka — both the district highlighted by towns like Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville and the popular craft brewery of the same name.

Opened in 1996 — babies born that year are now prime beer consumers — and now on its second ownership partnership, Muskoka Brewery continues to innovate and stay on trend in ways its two founders might not have imagined.

Such as a mimosa in a can, a foray into sparkling berry-flavoured vodka coolers, and beer with flowers.

Everyone from Molson Coors to smart nanobreweries (even Brewlab London dabbled), see sales in these candy coolers popularized by White Claw.

Muskoka is polling its fans to help decide which of its hard sparkling waters will graduate from its bottle shop and online store to the LCBO and other retailers. The choices are peach and black currant, pineapple and raspberry, coconut and lime, or lemon and field berry.

Muskoka Mimosa — you could mix your own with a Belgian-style saison and fresh orange juice — is a convenient and refreshing brunch partner perfect for the warm days ahead. Heck, it would be a celebratory and civilized choice for Ontario Premier Doug Ford to serve at his Muskoka cottage at Port Sydney.

A graduate of the brewery’s Moonlight Kettle recipe experiments, Muskoka Mimosa is highly carbonated to give it a fizzy champagne vibe. There’s lots of orange flavour and some bitterness. It’s brewed with Chinook hops and suggested food pairings include bacon, sausage or French toast. Its ABV is 4.8 per cent.

Muskoka Mimosa is available through the brewery and at the LCBO priced at $3.65 for a 473-millilitre can. Don’t be dissuaded by a bitter one-star review on the LCBO website that compares it to a mix of latex gloves and flavoured fluoride foam at the dentist’s office.

Chance of Flowers, also a graduate of Moonlight Kettle, is a creation of a brewer, purchasing agent and sales rep. It features hibiscus as a flavour infuser in a German-style kolsch beer. You should pick up notes of honey sweetness in this crisp, clean sipper. They used Magnum and Mistral hops, the latter a new variety from France that adds floral and fruity sweetness.

One food pairing suggestion is quiche, which follows on the beer-at-brunch theme if a beermosa isn’t your style.

Chance of Flowers is at the LCBO and other retailers for $3.95 per tall boy can.

If beers with flowers, with oranges, or hard sparkling water don’t tempt you, fear not. Muskoka, home of the iconic Mad Tom, still creates new takes on IPAs, the heartbeat of craft breweries almost everywhere.

One worthy of a lot of summertime love is Hazed and Confused, the juicy IPA first seen in 2017 and graduating to a full-time spot on the board two years later. If you’re having a deck, dock or patio brunch featuring a spinach salad with goat cheese and mandarin oranges, this is your beverage partner.

MORE MUSKOKA BEERS

There are more than one craft brewery pleasing patrons in the municipality of Muskoka. Sawdust City beers have legions of fans. Its newest, available online or at the brewery, is Patio Nights Sangria Hibiscus Pale Ale. Brewers added sangria hibiscus tea steeped for a day to the beer brewed with Mosaic and Galaxy hops. Lake of Bays has Tropical Twister coming to the LCBO and available now through the brewery. Tropical Twister is a summery light 3.7 per cent alcohol cherry and lemon-lime sour.

BOTTLE DRIVE

Desperate to get its iconic green bottles returned so they can be cleaned and refilled, Steam Whistle has launched Operation Bottle Drive. They’ll pick up empties from porches and driveways in the GTA and are looking for bottles to be returned via The Beer Store elsewhere. Pandemic restrictions have slowed bottle returns and the ordering of new bottles, creating a double-whammy. Those bottles can be refilled 45 to 50 times. Don’t consign them to your blue box.

NEW AND NOTED

Cowbell Brewing in Blyth has entered the seltzer ring with three flavours: black cherry lemonade, lime cucumber mint, and pink grapefruit cranberry. Think Sea Breeze cocktail for that pink grapefruit cranberry entry. The lime cucumber mint hard seltzer was inspired by a Cuban mojito.

London Brewing has two words for summer days: Heritage Wit. It’s been part of the roster since the brewery sold growlers and Boston rounds during pop-ups at the Root Cellar. There’s a fresh batch featuring heritage wheat varieties grown locally, ready to introduce folks to words like unmelted emmer, einkorn, red fife, and spelt.

There’s a new sour at Half Hours on Earth in Seaforth. Zombie Fires is a 7.2 per cent alcohol beer brewed with raspberry, mango, cinnamon and vanilla. The brewery sells 355 ml cans for $5.49.

Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist based in London.

wayne.newton@bell.net

Twitter.com/WayneWriteOn

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