First Draught: Kensington Brewing Company’s new watermelon beer

Seasonal craft beer moves through a fairly rigid cycle. Winter beers tend to have Christmasy spices; recipes for spring use maple syrup and the field is packed with pumpkin for fall. But in summer we get a refreshing dose of variety. Yes, there’s lots of orange beer, but there’s also apricot, blueberry, lemon and now, with the latest release from Kensington Brewing Company, watermelon.

The colour of Fruit Stand Watermelon Wheat is surprising: a light wheaten gold with only the slightest hint of pink. The current batch was filtered, but KBC owner Brock Shepherd says that future rounds will be left unfiltered so that the beer has a slightly cloudy appearance.

The aroma is light and refreshing and mostly dominated by toasted wheat. The opening flavours are of malt and wheat, which are nicely connected to the slightly bitter finish by a blast of watermelon flavour. The watermelon notes are not like the one-dimensional, thin sweetness of fresh fruit, nor are they cloying like an artificial candy imitation. They’re concentrated and sweet without tasting of sugar; like really great watermelon sorbet. 

Unlike some of the test batches, which used fresh watermelon, this larger run was made with watermelon juice, and that may account for the concentrated-but-controlled flavour and the subtly pink colour.

In related KBC news, the brewery is now running a Community Supported Beer campaign to raise funds to help build a production facility at 299 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market. By raising money today for beer tomorrow, the system combines the best of Kickstarter and community-supported agriculture. A standalone brewery will mean more capacity and flexibility than KBC has with Wellington, its current contract-brewing partner.

With stats like 13 IBUs (not very bitter at all) and only 4.5 per cent alcohol, this beer is well suited for a multi-pint session on a patio. For now, availability is limited to draught at bars and restaurants, including Caplansky’s, Bar Hop and The Beaver. A full list of KBC purveyors is available on the brewery’s website.

Kensington Brewing Company Fruit Stand Watermelon Wheat, $5.50 to $7 for a pint at various restaurants and bars around the city

In addition to covering beer, new restaurants and food trucks for Post City, David Ort writes about food and drink for several Toronto publications including Spotlight Toronto and his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on food, beer and life in general, follow him on Twitter.

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