As the weather is finally becoming more seasonal and resembling something more like summer, my wife and I decided to go have a drink on the patio. We decided on one of our favorite watering holes, ESCA Gourmet Pizza & Bar. Now if you ever travel to Cornwall Ontario, you have to visit this restaurant. Great food, great people and of course craft beer. It’s a gorgeous night, hot with a little shade thanks to the table umbrella. My wife Cherie takes the chair in the full sun, and points to the chair that faces the roadway for me. I love to people watch, and this seat faces the sidewalk, roadway, etc…
We get settled in and our waitress comes to the table. The beer I’ve been waiting for is in, but not on tap yet. Stay tuned because that was supposed to be the topic of this article. Anyway, I order a pale ale from our local brewery Rurban Brewing and my wife orders a Tom Green Summer Stout from Beau’s All Natural Brewing. The Summer Stout is their blonde version of the Tom Green Milk Stout. Made with lots of coffee and cocoa nibs, you get a nice stout flavour but with the refreshing crisp mouthfeel of a golden ale. There’s really a lot going on when you sip this beer, and Cherie just loves it.
We are soon joined by some friends, all craft beer lovers like us and ordering a variety of beer and food. I finish my pale ale and ask the waitress if she has a stout on tap. And the questions from the table begin. “Stout, you do know it’s hot outside?” “Isn’t that a winter beer?” “Why don’t you wait till the sun goes down at least?” And more that I don’t care to remember at this point. Yep that’s the beer geek thing to do.
I’ve been drinking craft beer now for just over 5 years, but stouts for maybe only a year or so. It took me a while to come around and actually be able to enjoy them. I’ve since started cellaring some of my favourites, and look forward to new releases. I also know as a craft beer lover, there are certain beer you drink depending on season. But does it really matter? I mean with all the breweries pumping out new beer daily, should the season really dictate what beer we drink? I understand on a hot summer day a Wheat Beer or Session IPA will be much more refreshing than a Russian Imperial. When I’m finished cutting my lawn, I don’t imagine I’ll slam back a Baltic Porter. No, I’ll grab something much more crushable. But does it mean we should discriminate against the fuller, darker beer just because well we drank it throughout the winter? Are we obligated to give the fruited beer a chance?
Here’s my answer, and I know a lot of people will disagree. Do your best to enjoy the seasonal releases. It’s an exciting time to be a beer lover in Ontario and after all, there is some basis for seasonal beer. Remember too that craft beer is about the experience and not just about crushing a few cans. However if it’s a hot sunny day and you decide you want to sit back and enjoy a Stout or Porter, then I say go for it. If you want a Session Ale in winter go for it. The choices are plentiful and I’m pretty sure those who crafted the beer just want you to enjoy them, no matter what season it is.