Thought I'd create a post for casual beer drinkers who are looking at expanding their beer palates.
This spring LCBO beer release is probably Big Brother's best beer release in recent memory. Dare I say that LCBO chose for us, the people of Ontario, some really nice beer options?
I'll let other posters, such as aser, chime in with their highlights, but there are three standouts I'll mention.
1. Panil Barriquee sour - think of this as being more wine than beer. Its ages in oak barrels, has an alcohol content close to 10%, which isn't much lower than your average bottle of wine. while the price is streep ($14/bottle), you drink this slowly to admire its complexity. its a great "oh hai! its 20 C in March? Let's chill and sip a beer on the porch!" type of beer. If you haven't had a sour beer before: open the bottle, pour the beer into a wide-mouth chalice or red wine glass, let it breathe for 5 min, smell it and have a sip. if you think its gross, wait a minute,and try again. the first 1-2 sips will throw you off. sip #3 and you'll understand why sours are the hip indie kid in the USA. You can drink now or hide in your basement for a few years and let it age.
2. SAINTE-RESERVE LUPULUS - Quebec microbrewery Charlevoix makes a LOT of great beer. This is their beer that mixes the hoppiness of IPA and the high alcohol punch and meatiness of Belgian strong ales. I haven't had a bottle yet, since it was leaked out to stores this week, but expect a citrusy and hoppy aftertaste with some nice fruit notes at the beginning.
3. Westmalle Tripel - an area where the LCBO deprives of world-class beer is in its European imports. usually we're stuck with beer with pictures of goats or from beer epicentres like Estonia instead of getting highly regarded beer from champion countries like Belgium. This year, the LCBO decided to bring in one of the world's best tripels (a style that's marked with dark colour, sugary flavours and higher alcohol content due to triple the amount of grain used compared to a regular brew). Westmalle is brewed by Trappist monks, which is very cool.This is an old beer that stands the test of time. Westmalle's yeast is highly regarded by brewers/breweries and lends an amazing character to this beer. Its higher sugar content lends a lot of fruit smells and flavour to it. Think white grape or pear with some caramelized sugar notes. You can drink it now or let it age for a few years so its flavours mature. And if you drink now, do yourself a favour and make sure its closer to room temperature than fridge temperature. It tastes and smells a lot better when it warms up slightly.