While many Anglophiles may be still feeling the gush of emotions around the Royal coronation two weeks prior the rest of us Canadians will be riding the coattails of British rule with the start to our summer long weekends. Finally, tea, scones and teeny tiny sandwiches make way for bonfires, unpredictable weather and over-cooked weiners. So grab your beer koozies (actually please don’t) and plastic wine glasses (again I’m joking) and head to your local alcohol purveyor. Beer expert Heather and cocktail connoisseur Nathalie are ready to help you stock your fridge just in time for the May Victoria Day long weekend.

Beer

Moosehead Chelada

Take all the thought and preparation out of your own bartending with this new light lager from Moosehead. With a squeeze of lime and a dash of salt already in the can this new zippy sip will be perfect for a summer day. If you are like me and your thumb isn’t big enough to successfully invert and mix a lime into another well-known cerveza then this 4% crisp and thirst-quenching beer is for you. Perfectly paired with a plate of nachos or some spicy chicken wings.

Moosehead Chelada

Anderson Brewing Company New Zealand Lager

As you may or may not know there are over 300 different varieties of hops in the world. Those juicy IPAs that taste like pine and grapefruit? Hops from the US. Slightly peppery and herbaceous flavours in your beer? European hops. And if you are looking for flavours like melon, mango, pineapple and papaya, look no further than hops from New Zealand. Back for a second summer, this lager from London (Ontario) craft brewer Anderson Craft Ales hints at all those tropical flavours in this perfect sunny weather lager. Try it with tacos or Hawaiian pizza.

Victoria Day Anderson New Zealand Lager

Bellwoods Brewery’s Jelly King

A Toronto institution Bellwoods Brewery is the literal king of fruity sours. With past flavours of plum, guava, multiple berry combinations and more, these lip-puckering sippers are an amazing poolside libation. While there is a regular rotation of the fruit additions don’t sleep on the base Jelly King Dry Hop Sour. With lots of acidity and a generous helping of funky and bitter hops, this beer is just what you need if you want to try something different. Pour this alongside a creative charcuterie board with lots of funky cheese or a heaping bowl of creamy, garlicky mussels.

Bellwoods Brewery Jelly King Beer

Session IPA’s

So you want the bitter hop bombs this long weekend but don’t want the inevitable hangover from too many 6-7 percenters? Give a session IPA a chance. Still, with the same funky hits as their stronger cousins these beers generally keep it below 5%. One of my favourite go-to’s is Bench Brewery’s Ball’s Falls session IPA. Lots of peach and citrus on the palate with a refreshing and crispy finish. Lots of flavours with less punch that can be perfectly paired with a juicy BBQed burger or some pasta carbonara.

Bench Brewery Ball's Falls Session IPA.

*check with your local beer and liquor store for availability.

Collective Arts Strawberry PiƱa Colada Sour

It’s definitely sour, but this funky effort from Hamilton’s beloved brewery is a juicy, fruity fun explosion of summer flavours, but remarkably somehow still not sweet. Clocking in at 5.6%, it’s a full-bodied experience, and in a tallboy format, that’s a good portion size for your average beer drinker. If coconut vibes are calling, answer that call with a beer that reflects those holiday values. A squeeze of lime is optional.

collective project strawberry pina colada sour

Non-alcoholic Wine

Inclusive hospitality is now de rigeur, and it’s wonderful to have so many non-alcoholic options to choose from. It makes it so easy to have options on the bar for friends and family whose preferences lean alcohol-free. Soberlicious is a great destination for international and Canadian-made non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits. They deliver across Canada, there is a big selection, they are often adding new products, and it’s well-curated. As a gin-lover, my favourite section is the Botanicals page, where you will find Seedlip and Ceder’s gins. (I used Ceder’s for some fabulous spring cocktails.) There are so many options to explore.

I had a chance to sample some of their wines recently, and what I love about the options is that there is so much excellence and variety in this market. In fact, the Oddbird Spumante was so popular, it had sold out for Mother’s Day. It’s back in stock and ready for your long weekend entertaining! You can serve these well-chilled and straight up, or try using them in some wine-based cocktails.

Oddbird Spumante Rose

First, this just looks gorgeous. Of course, it’s what’s in the bottle that counts, but the blush, the shape of the bottle and the ombre effect just make this bottle look stunning.

Oddbird Spumante

If you are not familiar with non-alcoholic wines, Sarah Kate, a non-alcoholic sommelier, suggests starting with a bubbly wine. The carbonation in the wines can help add the complexity that you’re used to from a traditionally fermented wine. I also love having a bottle of bubbly on the bar so that there is a celebratory pop from the bottle for everyone.

Oddbird Spumante Rose is from Treviso, in the Veneto region, commonly known as the Prosecco region. It is made with Glera and Pinot Noir grapes. It has notes of white pear, green apple, elderflower, raspberry, grapefruit and strawberry. The list of notes gives a world of ideas for cocktails! Mix it with elderflower syrup and a non-alcoholic gin for a floral French 75, or garnish a glass with a raspberry and a basil leaf to add a herbaceous facet to the fruitiness.

Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Reisling

I have had a love affair with sweet woodruff this spring. It’s a shade-loving ground cover found on forest floors (and in a dark corner of my garden). It has tiny white flowers, which are fragrant, but the leaves are where the fragrance is most concentrated. It smells like freshly mown grass with a vanilla facet. Its fragrance and taste are truly intoxicating. Sweet woodruff is used to make Maywine in Germany, traditionally enjoyed on May Day.

woodruff

I made Maywine with this non-alcoholic Reisling, and it’s the perfect match. This will definitely become a May tradition in our house. Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Reisling is sweeter than I was expecting for a Reisling, but it has lime and rhubarb facets, which offset its sweetness well. If you can find some sweet woodruff, Maywine is ridiculously easy to make. (I referred to these instructions, but it amounts to putting cuttings in the bottle and infusing. I only infused mine overnight with fresh cuttings, not dried, and it turned out beautifully. You can also make a syrup for cocktails.) Harvest sweet woodruff in spring while it is flowering. It will make a wonderful impression at a late spring gathering!

Leitz Reisling

Cheers to warmer weather, spring aromas and inclusive gatherings!

Always drink responsibly, and never drink and drive. No exceptions.