In a land where the general population experiences sunshine, warmth and well… happiness for approximately four months of the year, all Canadians treat the summer season with the utmost respect. Patios open in unapologetic fury, backyard lawn furniture is whisked out of hibernation and each hour of precious daylight is taken with gratitude in one hand and a beer in the other.

In the new movement to remain local, much appreciation is being had for craft breweries located in city centres, or strategically, just outside. Here in Toronto, Ontario, bars are beginning to feature these local creations on tap and the LCBO boasts an impressive selection on their shelves. These next five breweries are located in or around the GTA and have created some tasty and local alternatives to your tired, uninspired import.

If you like Coors Light, Canadian, Bud, etc., try Sweetgrass Golden Ale

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Image via thetimes.co.uk

Under contract with Wellington Brewery, Sweetgrass Brewing Co. has its headquarters at the Auld Spot pub on the Danforth in downtown Toronto. Their Belgian-style Golden Ale is an easy-drinking departure from the sea of lagers we can find ourselves drowning in (particularly after a ballgame at the Skydome…err Roger’s Centre or concert at the Molson Amphitheatre). Though it is stronger in flavour than your typical pint, it still has lightness to it and can certainly compliment any of your summer bbq favourites.

If you like Magners, try Shiny Apple Cider 

Image via outsideonline.com

This vegan and gluten-free apple cider born in Niagara-on-the-Lake was truly love-at-first-sip. Created by Angela Kaimos, the mastermind behind Small Talk Wines, this impeccably delicate and dry cider is perfect for a night spent at the beach or on the veranda. With an extensive background in winemaking, Angela also holds a degree in Bio Chemistry and is a graduate of the “Cool Climate Program” from Brock University. She is committed to creating environmentally conscious and sustainable products (the 20L kegs of cider are eco-friendly and bio-degradable!), and with such a fabulous tasting cider, we have no hesitations about making it an exclusive part of our summer.

If you like Hoegaarden, try Muskoka Summerweiss

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Image via picslist.com

As if brewed with actual rays of Muskoka sunshine, the Muskoka Summerweiss is the ideal wheat beer for the hottest months of the year. The light, citrus taste is aromatic, yet subtle and will pair perfectly with an afternoon spent by the lake. Fans of Rickard’s White can also enjoy this delicious brew if they want to swap citruses from orange to lemon. The catch? It is a seasonal feature and will only be available from May 1-September 1. Conclusion: stock up immediately and allow the Muskoka Summerweiss to be your vice every cottage weekend.

If you like Mike’s Hard Lemonade, try American Vintage Hard Iced Tea

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Image via define1lady.blogspot.com

From Great West Distillers located in Ontario, this vodka beverage is as surprising as it is delicious. Though fans of the classic Mike’s Hard might be weary of the departure from the lemonade base, this iced tea libation will not disappoint. At first sip, neither the taste of vodka nor sugar is overpowering, which can be somewhat of a feat when it comes to the vodka cooler. Rather, the most overwhelming flavour is that of tea- traditional orange pekoe tea. Now, we aren’t suggesting that you forego your morning pot of pekoe in favour of American Vintage. But, if you happen to be hosting a backyard garden party, you might consider an ice-cold pitcher of iced tea. It’s just like mama used to make it…except better.

If you like Guinness, try Wellington Imperial Russian Stout

Glass of stout with tray of empty glasses in background. More of beer in this series.
Image via sunset.com

Situated in Guelph, Ontario, Wellington Brewery boasts several different craft blends (and even hosts a Wellie Boot Toss Competition in early autumn!). The Russian Stout is perfect for those chilly summer nights when a glass of Pinot Grigio just isn’t going to cut it. This stout is stronger than Guinness in flavour and aroma, particularly with notes of coffee, and also boasts a higher alcohol content (8% to Guinness’ 4.3%, to be precise). Nevertheless, this self-professed “strong stout” will give you the perfect taste of fall during all of your summer fun.

Hilary Dean

Hilary Dean is a freelance writer and stylist living in Downtown Toronto. She has a passion for all things fashion and developed a love of vintage fashion and local markets while studying in the South of France. She always enjoys the hunt for pieces inspired by her favourite style stars, including Sienna Miller, Alexa Chung and the Olsen Twins. In her spare time, Hilary avidly practices yoga and since she embarked on a week-long retreat to Costa Rica, she has remained inspired by the importance of dedicated practice and a local, sustainable diet. Follow her daily adventures on her Instagram: @hilaryvdean

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