Button up your Canadian Tuxedo while we try some sours

Chevy Impola

Bing Crosby models the Canadian tuxedo the Levi-Strauss denim-maker presened to him in 1951.
Bing Crosby models the Canadian tuxedo the Levi-Strauss denim-maker presented to him in 1951.

Sick of quarantine, social distancing and bored with my own tedious company, I felt in need of some happy liquid, something light and refreshing to free me from the depressing reality of the pandemic and its subsequent paranoia.

A trip to the neighborhood liquor dispenser (yes, they are essential!) was in order, and there I found two bright ideas just waiting for me to come to their rescue.

First I must make a quick digression. In another time and at another place, I frequented a small distillery that made a delicious winter craft cocktail that they called a Canadian Tuxedo because one of the ingredients was maple syrup and Canada produces 71 percent of the world’s maple syrup.

But I was unfamiliar with the term Canadian tuxedo. I had to ask someone what it meant and was told that it refers to a suit of denim. Well, that’s a good one, as they say, but I wanted to know more.

How did a denim suit come to be known as a Canadian Tuxedo?

We can thank Bing Crosby for that. As the story goes, while on a Canadian hunting trip in 1951 Der Bingle attempted to rent a room at a glitzy Vancouver hotel while clad in denim jeans. He was refused a room until the management realized whom they were attempting to keep out of their hotel. When denim-make Levi Strauss heard that a hotel tried to give Bing the bum’s rush for wearing denim, they created a denim suit and presented it to the beloved singer, and the Canadian Tuxedo was born.

And that leads me to me first beverage, Wilderness Tuxedo, a raspberry sour ale from Bent Paddle Brewing of Duluth.

The can appears to be made out of a raspberry-colored flannel shirt (the wilderness tuxedo of the title). This is an American take on the traditional sour beer known as Berliner Weisse and infused with delicious raspberries.

Light and tart, this tasty 4.4 percent ale is just what the doctor ordered. Bent Paddle has a whole series of Wilderness Tuxedo beers with a variety of flavors that include passion fruit (known as lillikoi in Hawaii), mango and guava and a combo of berry flavors (rasp, blue, black and boysen), as well as an imperial with pineapple and blackberry.

I look forward to trying them all.

BP also does a Wilderness Tuxedo with cucumber and lime, but my other purchase was Chill Vibes, a sour ale brewed with cucumber essence, from Boulevard Brewing of Kansas City, Mo.

Now I know both of these are considered summery beers and I was drinking them in the early days of spring (even though it still looked and felt like winter outside), but, dammit, this is just what I needed.

The cucumber in Chill Vibes is undeniable, so you really have to be a cuke fan to like this beer. And I am. If you usually take cucumbers in your salad, try drinking this alongside and I feel it will meet our daily cuke requirements.

Again, this is a sour wheat ale, also on the low alcohol side at 4.5 percent (that’s actually high for a traditional Berliner Weisse weighs in at about 3 percent.

Cheers to sours and the inventive minds that pair them with unusual taste sensations!