If you love craft beer, Hamilton is basically heaven.
With multiple well-loved breweries pounding out some of the best and most innovative beer in the province, the Hammer is a serious heavy-hitter when it comes to craft.
Best of all, so much of it is constantly changing. Besides a handful of mainstay brews, most craft breweries in Hamilton are regularly releasing one-offs in small quantities that you may only ever get to drink once and never again, meaning there’s always something new to try.
In that spirit, here are five new Hamilton craft beers – some that may come back, some that may not – that you can get your hands on right now.
Melange (Imperial IPA) – Fairweather Brewing
Craft beer nerds who cite Fairweather as one of Ontario’s best and brightest breweries don’t do it lightly. Though just a few years old, this west end brewery and taproom continually cranks out a reliable mix of impeccably-crafted classic styles alongside masterfully-made experimental fare that could end up being a sensory disaster in less capable hands.
Melange is a re-release that pops up every now and again, and this sizeable imperial IPA isn’t messing around. Gloriously full-bodied and deliciously dry-hopped with hugely aromatic hop varietals, Melange isn’t shy on flavour, with bright notes of pineapple, pear, melon, citrus, and some subtle vanilla and spice on the palate. It lingers long on the finish and establishes itself as a slow-sipper to take your time with; especially with its 8 per cent ABV.
Hokey Pokey (Pastry Stout with Sponge Toffee) – Grain & Grit Beer Co.
Literally steps down the street from Fairweather Brewing sits Grain & Grit, another local favourite and arguably Hamilton’s most community-focused brewery. Run by great people making great beer, Grain & Grit is constantly experimenting with unique takes on IPAs, sours, pilsners, and stouts.
One of their recent one-off releases is Hokey Pokey, a dessert-like pastry stout brewed with vanilla, caramel, lactose, and sponge toffee. It’s named after an obscure ice cream flavour – basically vanilla with sponge toffee bits – and the beer itself is an attempt to pay homage to the tasty treat.
Don’t let the sweetness fool you, though; this full-bodied beer is packing some heat in its 8.5 per cent ABV, making it perfect to slow-sip after dinner. (Maybe even pair it with a scoop or two of ice cream. No judgement here!)
Waves (Fruited Sour with Banana, Mango, and Vanilla) – Merit Brewing
Summer isn’t exactly around the corner yet; but James North’s consistently excellent Merit Brewing has a transporting offering that may be the next best thing to lounging under the sun.
Waves is the next in a series of sour beers brewed with a range of fruits and other adjunct ingredients. This iteration – with banana, mango, and vanilla – is basically a summery fruit salad in a glass: orange juice-like in appearance, loaded with whopping tropical aromas, and equally tart and quenching on the sip.
Unlike the previous two entries on this list, Waves is a beer you can sip more freely, clocking in at just 3.3 per cent ABV. With warmer weather on the way, this might be the perfect beer to enjoy on your back patio for a lazy afternoon.
Is it beer?
Is it juice?
Don't matter, it's damn delicious is what it is! @MERITBrewing Waves Sour Ale with Mango, Banana and Vanilla makes me smile on today's Pints with Polk. Full video : https://t.co/Az8AxqTHlc pic.twitter.com/LAF6OM2DU2
— Essentially Polk'd (@DrunkPolkaroo) March 2, 2021
Brave Captain (English Ale) – Clifford Brewing
For beers that lean more into traditional techniques and old-world styles, Clifford Brewing is one of the best around. Aside from their famous award winning Clifford Porter, this east end brewery serves up consistently strong takes on IPAs, lagers, sours, and ales.
A more recent limited release is their Brave Captain English Ale, which is perfect for those looking to avoid the bells and whistles of more over-the-top beer styles. Classic and old school, this traditional brown ale is a malt-forward treat, nutty and smooth with some caramel notes and gentle bitterness. Easygoing without sacrificing flavour, this is perfect for folks who just want a straight-up, no-nonsense beer in their glass at the end of a long workday.
IPA #16 (India Pale Ale with Grapefruit and Elderflower) – Collective Arts Brewing
Hamilton’s O.G. craft brewery Collective Arts has become a massive brand not just in Hamilton, but across Canada and internationally; they even opened a brand new facility out in Toronto recently that doubles as brewpub and a lab for more experimental brewing.
The brewery’s IPA #16 is the next in a numbered series of one-off IPAs that mix it up on style and hop varietals, and is special for being brewed in honour of International Women’s Day.
Brewed with grapefruit, elderflower, and a special hop blend designed by the Pink Boots Society (which supports women in the beer industry), this aromatic and hazy IPA is the best of both worlds for a floral and fruity sip. Grab some before it’s gone!
Lead image courtesy of @collectivebrew