Beer column: Hey students, craft beer makes you smarter

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If your mom and dad forgot to have the Talk before you left home for college, here it is in eight words: If you choose to drink, choose craft beer.

A craft beer in hand automatically makes you more hip, smarter, and chattier — all key when meeting new classmates and Deep-Sixing those awkward years when beer choices were based on low prices and high alcohol content.

Stop that now.

Many campus pubs, including those at Western University, have been offering craft beers, typically on rotation.

For example, students hitting the Spoke at Western will find Forked River’s versatile Hop Salad pale ale and popular Mojo wheat. The Wave will have the intriguing Forked River Raspberry Milkshake IPA.

Both Western and Fanshawe will be hosting craft-beer fests in the weeks ahead.

Until then, and for those stocking their campus fridges, here are some degree-worthy choices widely available at the LCBO, grocery stores or the Beer Store.

Capital Blonde Ale by Forked River. Blondes, along with cream ales, are great entry points to the flavourful world of craft beer. Forked River’s citrusy Capital Blonde is bolder than the usual take on the style. Interest has been rejuvenated by selling Capital Blonde in 473-ml cans, appropriately featuring a bearded hipster. ”It’s a solid award-winning beer which has a great balance of malt and hops to provide a beer with flavour, but still appeal to the consumer who may not be veering too far off the macro-beer path,” said Dave Reed, co-founder of Forked River Brewery and a Western University alumnus. At the brewery, Forked River sells kegs for private parties and rents Pony Pumps to dispense the beer. Phone first.

Innis & Gunn Session IPA. It’s not often I can use “easy to drink” and “India pale ale” in the same sentence. Too often, IPAs are the beer equivalent of a hot-pepper eating contest where pain trumps taste. That’s not the case here, with the esteemed Innis & Gunn delivering the most enjoyable IPA on Ontario shelves. Maybe it’s Scotland’s way of apologizing for the bagpipes.

Lug Tread Lagered Ale by Beau’s All Natural Brewing. Crisp and balanced, this gem from the Ottawa Valley has won some 20 awards. It’s also now available as part of the four-bottle fall Beau’s Mix boxed set. The box also includes Sergeant Stripes, a 7.9 per cent stout to keep on hand for when dad visits.

Express India Session Lager by Railway City. A little orange, a little pineapple. Hold this on your tongue for a moment and try to pick out the multiple citrus flavours this light-ish (4.8 per cent) lager offers. Sure, it’s billed as a sessionable lager, but that’s no excuse for not taking it slow and enjoying its flavour.

Suburban Menace by Refined Fool. An ode to the childhood of many college students, Suburban Menace is a malty American amber with a hint of blueberries from Sarnia’s cool little downtown brewery.

Kelly’s Contraption by Cowbell Brewing Co. OK, you’re going to school in London or Waterloo and you’ve heard about Cowbell’s new destination brewery in Blyth and, yes, it’s awesome. But you need a car and a designated driver to get there. A solid B plan is to pick up Cowbell’s newest widely-distributed beer, Kelly’s Contraption. This 5 per cent alcohol hefeweizen (wheat) beer is named for one of the smartest guys Blyth has ever known, John B. Kelly. He was an inventor who built a car in 1883, four years before Henry Ford. And the beer? Low on bitterness with a banana flavour.

Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist based in London.

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