Ditch the 24 this May Long Weekend!
Victoria Day shares an undeniable bond with some of the cruder characteristics of beer. The weekend prior to the Monday before May 25th has been dubbed ‘May 2-4’ only in part because of it’s proximity to the 24th of the month. Rather, the Victoria Day holiday is recognized as a kickoff of sorts; the first real party of the summer, albeit a month early. Traditionally, or perhaps stereotypically, for us Canadians, this holiday goes hand-in-hand with heading down to the local beer store and buying a case or two of twenty four, usually, macro brews. Despite my inclination towards drinking beers that use better ingredients and have more flavour presence, I admit that I have gotten into the festivities in the past. I can usually be found camping on Victoria Day weekend and that used to mean buying my one 24 of Moosehead for the year; a beer which notably tastes about as good cold as it does warm. But if I didn’t like it for its taste, then why did I drink it year after year? Well, there is something to be said about the culture of it all, from cramming cases into already over-packed cars to tying bottles to ropes and cooling them in the lake to playing games around the fire – and it isn’t lost on the big brewers. Just as they might do with sports in the winter months, brands like Moosehead, Molson Canadian or Kokanee paint this picture of Canadiana, the great outdoors, in the way they position their beers – and we as consumers acknowledge that association. Moosehead is the beer for camping. Molson is for cottage parties. Kokanee is for hunting Bigfoot (I think). Beyond the marketing, however, there really aren’t any obvious reasons to make those links, other than the fact that if you’re going to drink a lot of something, you’ll want it to be somewhat on the lighter, more sessionable side. Lighter doesn’t have to mean devoid of flavour, though. True, if we were to generalize, craft brewers produce much less ‘market-neutral’ products than their larger counterparts, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t also make great beers that can be appreciated by beer nerds and non-beer nerds alike. If that were the case the craft beer movement would have fallen flat years ago, for lack of a way to transition people. Drinking craft would not only add more flavour to your weekend, but I think you’ll find that what you’re drinking is much more closely tied to those typical Victoria weekend activities than any multi-million dollar marketing budget could make them seem. The beer that I’m taking camping with me this weekend is Detour by Muskoka Brewery. Billed as a Session IPA, it clocks in at a humble 4.3% ABV. Some people get worked up when they see the letters I-P-A and automatically assume that the beer is going to be unpalatable to them – too strong, too bitter. That’s not the case with Detour. Yes, there is a very present hop character to it, but it’s actually very fruity and refreshing. There are peachy, tropical fruit flavour that hide a more resinous, grassy hop beneath. The result is something that I know tastes very good cold, but I suspect won’t be half bad after a canoe ride in my backpack. Brewed in the heart of cottage country, this beer captures the essence of summer for me. But is it right for you? With a large selection of craft beers available to us, it can be difficult to figure out where to start. This quiz might help inspire you to give something new a try this May long weekend: