The Original Snake Bite: return of the church key

The O

Back in the day, when your grandparents wanted a beer at home, they couldn’t just crack one open and pour, they had to punch through the flat topped can with a sharp piece of metal. The crude device they used, called a Church Key, has fallen out of fashion in modern times as technology brought us the pull tab in 1959 and then, later, the push tab in the 1970s–essentially the same beverage can technology we use today.

Lately, however, there seems to have been a movement–whether it’s actually necessary or not–to attempt to create a can that pours beer even better. Coors, for example, patented the Wide Mouth Can in the late 1990s, Samuel Adams released their Boston Lager in “Sam Cans” in 2013 that, while they looked just like normal cans to me, actually featured an “opening [that] is placed further inboard on its wide top to allow for better airflow while drinking, which means the beer’s aroma, a major component of flavor, has a little more room to breathe.” Continue reading

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Scotland’s Brew Dog is coming to Ontario


Innovative Scottish brewery, Brew Dog, who have become famous across the pond as much for their beer as for their antics–having participated in the race to make the world’s strongest beer, winning that race by brewing a 55% beer that they packaged in road kill, made a beer at the bottom of the ocean, projected themselves naked onto the British Houses of parliament, sold shares of their company online to over 14,000 “shareholders” and, in just a few short years have become Scotland’s largest independent brewery–have announced their next adventure: they’re coming to Ontario.

I spoke to Stefan Milo Cornish of Premier Brands, the agency representing Brew Dog, who confirmed the rumours about which Ontario beer nerds have been speculating. Draught offerings of a handful of Brew Dog beers will be available here as early as next week. Continue reading


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Sierra Nevada is coming to Ontario


There is exciting news for Ontario’s pale ale fans: Chico California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Pale Ale will soon be available on tap in Ontario bars and sometime a little after that, on store shelves in your LCBO.

This weekend, I spoke with Andrew von Teichman, the president of Von Terra Enterprises Ltd, the agency responsible for bringing Sierra Nevada to Ontario, and von Teichman confirmed rumblings you may or may not have heard at Cask Days when that event’s organizers brought Sierra Nevada to Toronto along with a handful of other California beers for the event.

Von Teichman confirmed that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale will be available on tap in Ontario in February and that an LCBO launch will likely follow in March. The beer will launch exclusively on draught at all six Bier Markt locations on February 9th and then will roll out to other accounts in March. No other accounts are confirmed yet, but von Teichman tells me that they’ve talked to a number of restaurants and bars and, not surprisingly, they’ve basically just said ‘let us know when and we’re all over it.’ Continue reading


Filed under Beer, News

Documentary on Ontario’s alcohol laws will stream online


As has been posited by fellow beer scribe Jordan St. John, it once seemed like roughly every six months we were inundated with a slew of articles about the makes-you-want-to-smash-your-head-through-drywall-it’s-so-frustrating world of beverage alcohol in Ontario.

Six months seemed to be roughly the amount of time it would take people to forget that one company was allowed to have 440 retail beer stores in this province while the people who actually make beer in Ontario were still only legally allowed to have one. And so this was the amount of time that would pass before some article would pop up, cause some outrage, make the rounds on social media, then quietly die with nothing ever coming of it. Some beer writers may have even used this cyclical outrage to build a reputation as something of a shit disturber. Ahem. Continue reading


Filed under Beer, News, The Politics of Drinking

Quoted: Veteran brewer Michael Hancock on purchased draft lines

Michael Hancock

“I would like to see an end to the illegal under-the-table dealings of most major and some craft breweries.

When dealing with licensees this activity completely distorts the true reasons for doing business which is surely to buy or make a product that is good and truly popular and then sell it for a fair markup with no further influences.

In order for this to happen the AGCO will have to enforce the rules that exist instead of slapping the hands of major corporations every few years with a fine that is so relatively small that it is seen to be merely the cost of doing business.”

Michael Hancock is veteran of Ontario’s beer scene, having worked in the industry for nearly 40 years. He was one of the founders of Denison’s Brew Pub where he developed his world class Denison’s Weissbier and since 2010 has been a partner in Collingwood’s Side Launch Brewing Co. He delivered the remarks above as part of a “Pioneers Panel” at the Ontario Craft Brewer’s Conference on October 16, 2014, when he was asked what he would like to see change in the brewing industry in the next few years. Continue reading


October 24, 2014 · 7:30 am

A “paid-for” monopoly is still a monopoly

monopoly board

If you follow beer politics—or “Beerlitics” as no one calls it—you’re probably aware that recently the provincial government received (yet another) recommendation on how the province might handle the hideous bitch goddess we know as our province’s retail alcohol beverage industry.

In case you’re not in the know, here’s the scoop: Tasked with helping the government find ways to make some money with its existing assets in order to help manage Ontario’s $12.5 billion deficit, TD Bank CEO Ed Clark recently headed up a panel that had some suggestions about what we might do to whip up a little cash and maybe address some nagging provincial issues–among them the provision of hydro services, the LCBO, and that prohibition-era, lager-hawking, house-of-worshipers-with-twelve-packs-on-their -handlebars we all love to hate, The Beer Store. (Suggestions, incidentally, that he delivered in an address at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, October 17, 2014)

Claiming he’d rather create a doable list than add “to the list of reports never implemented” (zing!) Clark recommended a few things related to booze, including allowing the LCBO to sell 12-packs of beer, introducing online ordering for pick-up at local outlets, opening big warehouse-style stores and, my personal favourite, implementing a mandate for the LCBO to exercise its negotiating muscle a little more when purchasing alcohol, noting “We were troubled that the LCBO doesn’t use its buying power to lower costs —despite being one of the largest buyers of wine and liquor in the world,” echoing something I’ve said before and reinforcing my long held suspicion that Ed Clark clearly reads my blog. Continue reading


Filed under The Politics of Drinking

Beer and sick Asian food at DaiLo

*I received financial compensation for this post.

Shane Mulvany at Lopan
To my mind, there are few things more disparate than Chinese food and a Big Mac and, if you were able to somehow bring these items together in one dish, my first guess wouldn’t be that it would end up as much more than a mess.

But that was before I had dinner at DaiLo.

Located in the former home of Grace at 503 College, an area which now boasts La Carnita, Snakes and Lagers, and Bar Negroni and will likewise soon welcome Grant Van Gameren–the guy behind Bar Isabel–right next door at 505 College, DaiLo reunites sommelier/front of house manager Anton Potvin and Chef Nick Liu, a duo that formerly found success together at Niagara Street Café. Continue reading


Filed under Dining