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I like a clever beer. I’m a fan of oak-aged saisons and double-hopped IPAS, heritage barleywines and small-batch heffys. But sometimes I just want a cold one-which in summer means lager. For craft lagers, I’m liking newly opened Coal Harbour Brewing, in the same Powell-at-Victoria area as Storm and St. Augustine’s offshoot Parallel 49. It’s the baby of Ken Boparai (formerly of Pat’s Pub, where liquor runs so deep-it started as a jazz café in 1914-that tap a wall and you could pour a pint.) Brewmaster Kevin Emms, 24, has two lagers. The light helles-style 311 is the real thing-the Collingwood Legion on Fraser has it on tap-and, Happy Days, a flavour grenade to serve chilled in heavy rotation.
If you really want to get fancy, don’t just upgrade the lager. Upgrade the mix.
Three beer experts, three cocktails:
1141 Hamilton St., 604-669-4848. Donnellygroup.ca
The latest in the Donnelly chain (No. 15) turns the old Capone’s spot into a Yaletown rec room with $2 schooners on Tuesdays and $4 whiskey shots nightly.
BEER & A SMOKE(adapted from a recipe by Jim Meehan of New York’s P.D.T., by Trevor Kallis, bar and beverage director, Donnelly Group)
¾ oz mezcal (Jaral de Berio)¼ oz lime juice2 dashes Cholula hot sauce2 dashescelery bitters (The Bitter Truth)Draught lager (Hooker’s Green serves Coal Harbour’s 311 lager)
In a cocktail mixing glass add mezcal and top with lime juice, hot sauce, and bitters. Fill glass with ice, shake, and strain into a beer sleeve. Float with lager.
3835 Main St. Portlandcraft.com
When Cameron Forsyth sold Public Lounge, he realized he wasn’t done with Main Street. So he shifted six blocks down to the old Coppertank spot to create a temple to Oregon’s rough-hewn DIY vibe.
¾ oz sweet vermouth ¾ oz Campari 3 ½ oz beer (Main Street Pilsner)
In a cocktail glass, mix vermouth and Campari; float with Main Street Pilsner (a collaboration between Forsyth, Cascade’s Nigel Pike, and Russell Beer). Serve over ice.
16 W. Hastings, 604-558-4658. Bittertastingroom.com
The beer-forward outpost of local chain Heather Hospitality features several strong beer cocktails. Here’s one particularly suited to summer.
BITTER CHILL(from Mike Mitchell, Heather Hospitality Group beverage director)
1 oz tequila2 slices ginger½ lime, juicedsalt and pepper
Mill Street Organic Lager (Toronto’s Mill St. is scooping mad awards these days). Muddle ginger and lime, add tequila, and salt and pepper to taste. Float with lager; serve over ice.