Spring is upon us–finally. After a long winter, it is time to awaken the senses with the best beers the world has to offer.

1. Witbeir/Belgian Wheat Beer


Photo by Brandon Guild

Witbier, also known as white beer or blanche, is a top-fermented beer originally brewed in Belgium and the Netherlands. It got its name from the use of fresh or malted wheat that causes the beer to look hazy and white when cold.

It originated from medieval beers brewed with a blend of spices and other plants, like coriander and bitter orange, instead of hops. The taste is therefore only slightly hoppy with citrus and herb aromas.

To Pair: Spring mix salad with fruit and goat cheese, grilled scallops, bacon, or breakfast items

To Try: Blanche De ChamblyUnibroue; Belgian Style WitMill Street Brewery; Raspberry WheatAmsterdam Brewery

2. Sour Ale


Photo by Brandon Guild

In contrast to commercial brewing, which is done in a meticulously clean environment, sour beers are made by intentionally allowing wild yeast strains or bacteria into the brew.

Traditionally, Belgian brewers allowed wild yeast into the brew naturally through beer barrels. Modern brewers sometimes use wine, fruit wine or bourbon barrels to add sour bacteria and flavors to the beer.

To Pair: Sweet potatoes, blueberry crêpes, grilled pineapple and teriyaki chicken.

To Try: Sour BikiniEvil Twin Brewing; Sour Golden AleBackacre Brewing; Rotating Sours–Royal City Brewing Co.

3. Pilsner


Photo courtesy of Steam Whistle Brewing

Pilsner is a style of Pale Lager that orignated in Plzeň, Czech Republic. Czech-style pilsner has a golden color, high foaminess and lighter flavour compared to the light-staw colour German-style that has more earthy flavors. These beers are the original lager-style of beer, fresh and easy-going and perfect for sunny days.

To Pair: Fish, light & spicy Asian cuisine, white cheddar.

To Try: Stone Hammer PilsnerStone Hammer Brewing; Steam Whistle PilsnerSteam Whistle Brewing; Lagunitas PilsLaguanitas Brewing Co.

4. Blonde Ale


Photo courtesy Amsterdam Brewing

Blondes are a classic beer to enjoy as the weather gets warmer. They tend to be clear, crisp, and dry. They are golden in colour, have low-to-medium bitterness with subtle malt sweetness and a light fruitiness from yeast. Literally sunshine in a glass.

To Pair: Seafood salad, calamari, grilled vegetables and chicken.

To Try: All Natural BlondeAmsterdam Brewery; Brakeman’s Session aleJunction Craft Brewing

5. Hefweizen/German Wheat Beer


Photo by Brandon Guild

The Hefweizen style is an unfiltered variety of wheat beer originating from Germany. Like Belgian witbeir, a significant proportion of malted barley in the mash is replaced with malted wheat.

German weissbiers are different from the Belgian-styles because no corriander or orange flavourings are added. Instead, special strains of weissbier yeast are used, which produce aromas of banana and clove.

To Pair: Salads with fruity vinaigrette dressings, German-style dishes (weisswurst, cured meats), guacamole, or apple glazed pork.

To Try: Gordon Hill Hefweizen –Royal City Brewing; Paulaner Hefe-WeissbierPaulaner Brauerei

6. Maple Beer

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Photo courtesy DJ’s BrewTube

It’s true. In Canada, we put that s**t on everything. Maple beer is brewed with the addition of maple syrup as an additional fermentable.

Spring is maple syrup season, and hence many seasonal beers featuring maple are available this time of year.

To Pair: Sweet and spicy pad thai for lighter maple ales; maple quinoa pancakes, or bacon for red maple beer; sweeter maple desserts or wild game for Maple Porter.

To Try: Spring Maple Belgian Blonde AleLake Of Bays Brewing Company; Maple Red AleStonehammer Brewing; Maple PorterNicklebrook Brewery

For more about beer, and food to go with it, make sure to check out these articles: