Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.

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‘International destination’ beer bar coming to Toronto’s Little Italy

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Tomas and Julian Morana, two brothers whose family is behind Bar Volo, Cask Days, and–through their import business Keep6Imports–a large chunk of the cool import beers you can find in better Toronto restaurants and bars, have confirmed that they are opening a new bar.

As Toronto Life pointed out yesterday (damn you for scooping me! *shakes fist*) the location of the long-rumoured “second Morana family bar” has finally been revealed as Little Italy. Specifically, the bar will be at 612 College Street in the former home of Souz Dal Tiki Bar next to The Royal Cinema.

I spoke with Tomas Morana and he filled me in on some details. Continue reading



Blog Life

From time to time, I receive emails from students who would like my input on a school project. Sometimes they are students of service-industry-related programs, sometimes they are in marketing or PR programs, and sometimes it’s not clear at all what classes they are taking.

Sometimes these inquiries come in the form of well thought-out questions that show that the student has clearly done their homework and has actually read a lot of my writing. Sometimes it’s obvious the student has simply pasted questions directly from his or her homework and would like me to do the work for them.

Most of the time, regardless of the form they take, I politely deny the inquiry or I don’t respond at all.

But sometimes, I like to take an opportunity to help shape a young mind. Continue reading


Brewer Matt Soos honoured with a memorial beer


For anyone who has had much involvement with Ontario’s craft beer industry, you get to know fairly quickly that “industry” probably isn’t even the right term for this group.

Yes, they are making and selling a product and running a business, but for the most part, the people making and selling beer at small breweries in this province are much more of a community than they are an “industry.” They all know the same people, they sometimes went to school together, they usually face the same struggles, they are often sharing resources and–increasingly–they even brew their beer in the same parent facility.

And while there can occasionally be some infighting or gossip about petty things like who’s swiping kegs from other brewers, who’s “copying” someone’s latest beer style or label, etc. it is, for the most part, a community that works together, collaborates on ideas, and shares in each other’s achievements as craft beer grows in Ontario.

They also come together as a community when they are faced with tragedy. Continue reading

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Evil Twin Brewing coming to Toronto bars

Evil Twin Beers

Keep6Imports, the small, Toronto-based beer import company responsible for bringing brands like Trou du Diable, Dieu du Ciel! and Howe Sound Brewing into Ontario, announced tonight via their instagram account that they would be adding another famed brewer to their lineup of imports: Brooklyn-based contract brewery, Evil Twin Brewing.

But don’t get too excited if you live somewhere outside of Toronto. Tomas Morana, proprietor of Keep6Imports, tells me that they only brought in a very small amount of Evil Twin beers so it has all been allocated to bars and restaurants–and while Morana and Co. are happy to sell to any licensee that wants to come pick up the beer in Toronto, for now Evil Twin will only be available at spots in the Centre of the Universe.

Continue reading


Guinness Blonde American Lager makes me sad


Everyone knows Guinness.

With a lineage that dates back to the 1770s, Guinness is probably one of few virtually universally known beers—mention dark beer to the uninitiated and they’ll likely say “Like a Guinness?”—and its longevity is owed in no small part to the fact that it’s a profoundly drinkable beer. It has never been so strange as to scare off mainstream beer drinkers, and has always seemed to have a ubiquitous presence in the types of bars where fans of real beer might be forced to order it because it is the thing on tap that sucks the least.

Which is really a weird and roundabout way of saying Guinness is good.

Sadly, in an increasingly marketing-dominated industry, even Guinness, with the international powerhouse marketing dollars of Diageo behind it, has begun to experience declining sales numbers. Indeed, aside from a slight rise in sales in Ireland between 2009 and 2013 thanks to a huge marketing push that even included inventing a holiday, Guinness sales are sinking. According to the Economist

in 2014 Diageo lost eight times as many sales of Guinness in Britain as it gained in Ireland (see chart). Americans are also downing far fewer pints of Guinness, though the drop is at a slower pace than across the Atlantic.

And so seemingly in an attempt to stem the tide of sinking numbers on this side of the pond, Guinness has just launched Guinness Blonde American Lager here in Canada (it has already been available in the US for a couple years).

I was invited to the Toronto launch of the brand and was provided with some cans to sample and, ultimately, the whole thing has just made me a little sad. Continue reading

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Someone put hops in my whisky

This article ran on Post City’s website as “JP Wiser’s new Hopped brings the characteristics of beer to a bottle of whisky” on October 8, 2015. 


It was probably inevitable that, as interest in hop-forward craft beers rose at the same time there has been a renewed interest in whisky and dark spirits, that there would be an increase in attempts to market some combination of the two.

For the most part, outside of my own proclivity for pouring a few fingers of whisky alongside a pint of beer, this marriage has come by way of beers that attempt to bring you the flavour of whisky. Sometimes it works, as when Chicago’s Goose Island ages a stout in bourbon barrels to make the spectacular Bourbon County Stout—arguably the beer that started craft beer’s barrel-aging trend. And other times, as in the dreadful English import Old Crow, which is essentially a lager with a shot of bourbon flavour, it most certainly does not work.

There have, however, been few attempts to bring the characteristics of beer to a bottle of whisky.

Enter JP Wiser’s Hopped.

Made with a blend of five- to nine-year-old Canadian whiskies, JP Wiser’s Hopped Whisky is “dry hopped” at the end of its aging process—a technique borrowed from brewing wherein dried hops are essentially steeped in the beer, imparting the juicy aromatics of hops without as much of the bitterness that’s obtained from hops in the boil.

Read the rest of this post over on Post City

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Mill Street beer is now available at the Rogers Centre

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Following the news that the company had been purchased last week by Labatt, Mill Street announced last night via twitter that their beer would now be available to purchase at the Rogers Centre.

Given that Mill Street is now technically owned by the largest beer company in the world, AB InBev, this isn’t really the “craft-beer-at-ball-games” news that many Toronto baseball fans have been hoping for ever since Steam Whistle was unceremoniously given the boot last March; however, it does mean that there is a finally a “Toronto brewery’s” beer for sale at The Rogers Centre.

So…yay? Continue reading


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