Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.

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Toronto’s Burdock Brewery is the real deal


It isn’t all that often that, in my semi-professional adventures as a beer enthusiast, I can say I’m smitten, but after having visited Toronto’s Burdock–a bar, restaurant, and music hall that also happens to have a brewery onsite–I must admit to my smittenness. Er, I’ve been smote. They smited me?

What I’m trying to say is that I like the damn place.

Considering options of where to drink before this year’s Golden Tap Awards, my friend Leon (whose hairy arm appears above) suggested Burdock and, truth be told, even though I hastily rehashed a press release wrote an article detailing the release of their first beers, I had not yet actually been to Burdock, so I was eager to check it out. Continue reading

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Sawdust City’s Golden Beach Pale Ale ships to LCBOs today

Golden Beach

This is more of a public service announcement than a real blog post.

You probably already heard the news that the excellent Golden Beach Pale Ale from Sawdust City would soon become a permanent LCBO listing and, if you’re like me, you’ve been anxiously awaiting convenient, all-season access to this tasty little 4.5%, hazy, hoppy, fruity number. Well, today is the day, kids (probably).

Golden Beach has been shipped to stores and while some might get it sooner than others, you’ll see it on the shelf of your local LCBO this week.

For me Golden Beach on store shelves all season long is welcome news because a) It might just be one of my favourite beers. It’s a great example of the type of beer I always have stocked in my fridge: something low alcohol that still delivers a considerable amount of flavour, and b) Nickel Brook’s Naughty Neighbour just hasn’t been tasting the same to me lately so I might need a new beer in my stable for a little while until they figure out whatever issues they seem to be having on their new system. No offence to Nickel Brook, they’re still killing it, generally, but my Naughty Neighbour just ain’t been the same lately.

Golden Beach will be priced at a vaguely wallet-stinging $3.25 per 473mL can, but it’s a damn good beer and even at that price certainly worth occasionally rotating into your regular stock of low ABV, reasonably-priced Ontario pale ales (among which Great Lakes Canuck is still reigning champ to my mind, even though they quietly raised the price to $2.65 from $2.50 recently).

…Aaand somehow I’ve managed to be vaguely insulting to three breweries that I really like with what was supposed to be happy news. Sorry every one.

This is why I usually leave announcements to other people. Long live Greg Clow. I need a beer.


Six beer pairings for dealing with toddler behaviour

Cars and raspberry beer

For roughly the last four months, I have been the primary caregiver for my two year old son.

Yes, I’m a stay at home dad.

The experience has taught me a lot of things. It’s been an absolutely amazing experience to share the summer with my son and each day brings new joy as I get to see the world through his eyes and blah blah blah.

Yes, yes, all that.

But it’s also taught me some really useful things too: namely, that beer is a really important part of parenting.

Seriously. I’ve learned to appreciate beer on a whole other level.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not drinking all day or parenting my son under the influence. I still (usually) wait until around 5pm to crack a beer–I’m not a savage–but when I do, it often tastes far, far better than any beer I ever knew as a childless, amateur beer drinker. Because now almost always, more so than ever before, when I DO crack that beer, god damn it, I have earned that beer.

Accordingly, I’ve also learned that there are some beers that are just far better suited to helping you unwind at the end of certain days than others are. That is, there are without question certain trying circumstances that demand a beer at the close of the day, but I’ve found there are actually certain circumstances that lend themselves better to being remedied by specific beers.

As a public service, here are the perfect beer pairings to deal with six common toddler behaviours. Continue reading


Talking beer with Ontario’s Minister of Finance

Sousa at Bellwoods

Earlier this morning, The Honourable Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Minster of Finance, presided over an event at the LCBO’s flagship Summerhill location in Toronto.

The event was held mainly to announce the launch of the LCBO’s growler program pilot project (which a certain beer blogger may or may not have spoiled with an exclusive post in late August), but also provided an opportunity for Sousa and the LCBO to announce that the growler program is actually part of a broader effort being made by the LCBO to embrace craft beer.

Speaking today, Sousa announced that in addition to Summerhill’s growler program, which will initially feature beer from Amsterdam Brewery, Mill Street Brewery, and Great Lakes Brewery and then rotate frequently, the LCBO will roll out “craft beer zones” to 25 other LCBO locations across Ontario. Similar to the LCBO vintages section, these craft beer zones will feature and highlight craft beer made in Ontario.

I spoke with Minister Sousa about not just LCBO improvements, but the province’s effort to support craft beer and I asked about what we might expect from the forthcoming sale of beer in grocery stores, specifically I asked if there has been any further progress on deciding which grocery stores will be allowed sell beer. Continue reading


Ontario’s independent grocers want to support craft beer

grocery beer

Beer is coming to grocery stores.

No, really.

For a number of reasons, it’s been tough to believe that this development, first announced by the provincial government back in the spring of 2015, would ever actually come. Firstly, there’s the healthy dose of cynicism with which we’ve all learned to approach any news about alcohol reform in Ontario, and secondly, there’s the fact that, aside from those early announcements about 450 grocery stores that would eventually be allowed to sell beer, we haven’t actually heard a lot of details about how (or when) exactly this would all happen.

Until now.

In a Ben’s Beer Blog exclusive, I had an opportunity to chat recently with Tom Barlow, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG).  This chat was exciting for a few reasons: Firstly, I’ve now got some details about what beer in grocery stores might actually look like, and secondly, the fact that independent grocers have been invited to take part in the conversation with Ed Clark and the panel overseeing the reform of beer sales bodes well for Ontario’s craft beer, in my opinion. Continue reading

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A beery list of beer lists

FullSizeRender 2
In case you weren’t aware, I also write about beer for local website blogTO. Often, that website asks me to write posts for them in list format. And so, for no reason other than to cure your Monday blues, I decided to compile a collection of them here for what is surely the ultimate in internet entertainment: A list of lists.

Why the hell not? 

20141311-LouisCiferfridge 10 breweries where you can buy growlers in Toronto
20130503-590-MillSt7 The top ten local beers in Toronto for summer 2015
2015425-breweries-toronto The top ten breweries to visit near Toronto
05062013-castros590-02  The top 30 places to drink beer in Toronto by neighbourhood
20121217-old-breweries-toronto-ed The ten oldest breweries in Toronto
2015218-toronto-brewery Five Toronto beer brands you probably haven’t heard of
20111229-craftbeers5 The top ten ways to learn about beer in Toronto
06252013-wren590-05 The top ten underrated beer bars in Toronto
20111221-beer Five Toronto beer trends that need to die in 2015
20111227-parkdale-beer NOSTALGIC BONUS LIST: The top Toronto beer news from 2011 (My first ever list for blogTO. Smell the earnestness!)





More details emerge about the LCBO’s growler program

LCBO Growlers

On Monday August 24th, the LCBO sent an email to some of Ontario’s craft brewers to invite them to submit products for the launch of their growler fill program that will start with their flagship Summerhill location.

Ben’s Beer Blog has obtained a copy of the email and it includes some details about the program that until now have been something of a mystery.

The email reveals that the space will include the LCBO’s first growler station as well as a craft beer tasting bar. Furthermore they are actively seeking beer that they don’t already have available for sale in packaged format (so we won’t see the Bud Zone Growler Station as some beer nerd grumbling posited).

The LCBO has indicated that their staff will dispense beer directly from kegs into the growler; however, it did not reveal if they would be investing in a proper growler filler or merely filling them from a draught tap (presumably–and hopefully–it’s the former given their investment in this). Continue reading


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