Beer column: Honey ginger shandy a treat

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Can summertime vibes last past Labour Day?

They can if your favourite new craft beer refresher has been Old Tomorrow’s honey ginger shandy.

A big departure for Toronto’s Old Tomorrow, honey ginger shandy first popped up at LCBO stores where it sold briskly.

Now, a new double batch is en route to stock not just the LCBO but also Walmart stores which sell beer.

It should be available until ­October before disappearing ­until next May.

“It’s the first craft shandy on the market and consumers love it when they discover it,” Old Tomorrow co-founder Pat Macdonald.

A shandy is a beer mixed with a soft drink. And yes, you can make your own.

Old Tomorrow does the work for you by brewing a great base beer and mixing it with an exceptional craft ginger ale for a stellar result, at least on the palate of those of us who like ginger in its many glorious forms.

“While a consumer can certainly make his own shandy, we have learned that consumers find it a bit challenging to pick the appropriate beer style and to get the ginger mix/balance right so the flavour is refreshing with no aftertaste,” Macdonald wrote in an email.

The ginger ale is from Muskoka Springs, using its 1873 recipe.

“Since Old Tomorrow is all about celebrating all that’s great about Canada, we were looking for Canadian authenticity and Muskoka Springs ginger syrup is the real deal, made with an original 1873 recipe that’s packed with botanical extracts,” Macdonald said. “Its flavour adds a distinctive zip, fitting nicely with our brand and desired product profile.”

For me, it’s part of a holy trinity of Ontario craft beers brewed with hot weather in mind — Old Tomorrow honey ginger shandy, Nickel Brook cucumber lime gose, and Railway City Orange Creamsic.

“We add a touch of lemon and honey to compliment the ginger spice and the crisp flavour of a custom lager beer we make for the shandy,” Macdonald said.

The shandy is a departure for Old Tomorrow, better known for its first beer, the Canada Day favourite Old Tomorrow Canadian pale ale. There’s also the limited-­edition Monty’s aged ryed ale, and the crisp Track 85 lagered ale.

Track 85, nabbed a gold medal at this year’s Ontario Brewing Awards.

Old Tomorrow, whose packaging pays homage to Sir John A. Macdonald, is campaigning for support of the masses with not only the shandy, but also a new craft lager.

Light’er Up, a four per cent alcohol session beer sold at the Beer Store and select Loblaws, gives Old Tomorrow a worthy gateway for those, and some days I’m one of them, who hate the hop-forward bitterness of IPAs.

“While our seasonal products can push the boundaries a bit (like our whisky-infused Monty’s Aged Ryed Ale), Light’er Up was specifically crafted as a light lager so that it would satisfy those seeking a super crisp lager taste that they could enjoy on its own (as a session beer) or to complement with barbecue foods, fish and chips, spicy foods and salty snacks,” Macdonald said.

Old Tomorrow wanted a lager recipe craft beer fans wouldn’t dismiss as watery. After a lot of experimentation, tastings, baby steps with kegs in bars, voila, a nice new lager to share with the masses.

“Our Old Tomorrow team really wanted to be the first company to create a light product that also had a smooth fuller lager flavour,” Macdonald said. “We did some experimentation with all natural ingredients, using a gentle dry-hopped approach, to see if we could make a light lager-style beer that would deliver a clean full flavour.”

Light’er Up 473 ml cans are decked out with a “Canadian tuxedo” (a.k.a. blue jeans) design and are available at grocery stores and the Beer Store, but not yet the LCBO.

Wayne Newton is a ­journalist based in London.

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