Nickel Brook’s Naughty Neighbour is now available in cans

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In case the title of this post and the image above didn’t make it abundantly clear: Nickel Brook’s Naughty Neighbour is now available in cans.

You can find the 473mL cans now at the LCBO for $2.80.

Personally, I’m excited about this for a few reasons.

First and foremost, I’m a big fan of the current trend toward sessionable pale ales. There has been an argument made as of late that “sessionable” is basically just a nice way to say the beer facilitates binge drinking. Frankly, I’m OK with that. Yes, I am a nerdy beer-sniffing snob and am capable of approaching beer with a discerning, critical eye, nose, and mouth, but there are also times I feel like drinking three, four, five, even six of the same beers in one sitting. And Naughty Neighbour is actually chief among my beer choices when I opt to do so. The 4.9% American Pale Ale is aromatic, with all the grapefruity, citrusy, bitter goodness I love in a pale ale but at wholly reasonable 4.9% (and I know it seems like I’ve been giving a lot of love to Nickel Brook lately, but let’s face it, they’re making some good beer). Continue reading

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No, I won’t share your infographic on my blog

The following is an email response I sent to “Liyonala” this morning while I was sitting on the toilet. She was following up to a previous inquiry about my interest in posting some content she was “excited” to see on my blog. 

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Liyonala,

 

The infographic you are asking me to share on my blog is about marketing, and my blog is about beer. I didn’t respond to your first email that suggested “readers of my blog enjoy posts on similar topics” because the claim is patently false and anyone who had taken even a cursory glance at my writing would be able to glean that. I assumed that you were either just spamming me or were a person who had suffered major head trauma. Either way, I decided no response at all was the best approach.

​Now that you have sent this second email, I feel compelled to respond.

I understand that it has become popular for advertising and marketing companies to enlist people to create “infographics” in an attempt to draw web traffic. They are short, pithy, and image-based ways to get people to click links and, to anyone who wasted their life getting a degree in marketing, they might seem like a perfect approach to ensnaring “millenials,” a largely-fictional demographic invented by these same marketing people who ridiculously presume that humans born around the same year must share inherent purchasing and consumption habits. I get that. I’ve accepted it. Infographics are a “thing” now and, as a result, and I get a handful of requests like yours every week. Continue reading

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Stone Brewing Co. is coming to Ontario

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Something that has been a poorly-kept secret among gossipy Ontario hop fiends for a while can now finally be officially confirmed:  Escondido, California’s Stone Brewing Co. is coming to Ontario.

I spoke with Rob Hern, the Retail Sales and Marketing Manager for Horizon Beers, the agency that represents Stone in Canada and he confirmed that, yes, I can finally actually publicly state that Stone’s award-winning, West-coast-style, hop-forward beers will be here in February.

Stone IPA, one of the best-selling and well-respected IPAs in America will be joined on draught in the province by Arrogant Bastard, a beer that you probably don’t have a refined enough palate to appreciate. Hern says there will be a handful of launch events in the province the week of February 23rd (with obviously a majority here in Toronto, the centre of the universe) and, while he’s keeping the exact details under wraps for now, he suggested that visits from brewery officials and even a collaboration brew with an Ontario brewery might be in the works to publicize the beers’ arrival. Let the sexual favour offers from local brewmasters to Rob Hern begin.

The news of Stone’s arrival comes fairly recently on the heels of the news that both California’s Sierra Nevada and Scotland’s Brew Dog will be infiltrating Ontario’s beer market so this adds even further speculation to the oft-debated question of how Ontario beer will fare in competition with more established craft brands. For their part, Stone brings the credibility of not only being the the 10th largest craft brewery in the United States, but also one that was actually rated “the #1 All Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by the readers of Beer Advocate. No, seriouslyContinue reading

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Beyond The Beer Store: What happens now?

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In terms of media coverage and developing news, it seems like it’s been a hundred years since The Beer Store dropped the bombshell announcement that they would be offering up an opportunity for a token gesture “ownership” stake to Ontario’s brewers.

Crazily, it’s actually only been 12 days since that happened, it just seems like it’s been forever because the Beer Store has been in full-fledged damage control mode ever since, buying up major ads in newspapers and issuing a press release almost every day since (even issuing three in one glorious day).

The response has, of course, been swift, vicious, and, amazingly, mostly unanimous: Nice try Beer Store, but this dog ain’t gonna hunt.

I started a blog post with the intention of covering the steady stream of news and reactions that the release generated, but frankly it was too much work to stay on top of. With every major daily weighing in, TV stations clamoring for brewers to chat with, and anyone with a keyboard and an opinion contributing to the conversation, I stopped tracking it all and opted to just sit back and watch as the number of Ontarians pissed off at our current retail beer scene grew exponentially every day. Come on in to the pool of rage, everybody. The water’s fine!

There’s a lot of interesting things still being said out there (personal recommendations of late include Dan Grant’s recent piece for NOW and an editorial conversation in today’s National Post between Chris Selley and Jonathan Goldsbie), but there’s something that seems notably absent: Any real consideration for what happens next.

That is, while we’re all happily (and justifiably) piling on the Beer Store’s PR blunder, I thought I might try a different tack and offer up my two cents on how Ontario’s beer scene might be fixed, and how we might all look forward. Continue reading

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Head Stock: Meet Ontario’s best IPA again for the first time

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Nickel Brook’s Head Stock IPA is the best regularly available IPA in Ontario–and it is finally getting a better look.

If you’re like me, the first time you heard someone positively mention Head Stock, you probably said, “You mean that beer with the terrible 60s-themed can with a Stevie Ray Vaguhan stand-in silhouette?”

Yes. That’s the one.

Like you, and I assume many others, for a long time I dismissed this beer out of hand for its can–quite literally judging a book (beer) by its cover (can)–and assumed it was another iteration of the ubiquitous crystal-malt heavy “Ontario Pale Ale.”

I didn’t even bother trying it.

I was very, very wrong. Continue reading

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An ongoing summary of the still-happening Beer Store news

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If you’ve been sleeping all day and haven’t heard, there’s been some beer news.

On January 7, 2015, The Beer Store announced that they would be “opening up ownership opportunities” to all Ontario breweries.

You can read the full scoop over on blogTO where I broke it all down the morning it happened.

Since the news broke, there’s been a veritable shit storm of activity as people reacted and responded to the news. At first, the news seemed like a PR masterstroke. The Beer Store changed the conversation that had largely been about their unfair monopoly up until now and instead issued what would surely be seen as a great step forward for Ontario beer. Right?

Well, not so much.

Reaction has been pretty swift and not all that supportive. People aren’t taking too kindly to the Beer Store, arguably the source of the problem, opting to be the solution to the problem and the move has come off as, at best, a token gesture and, at worst, insulting.

Here’s a round-up of the fallout:

TV and Radio

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Jason Fisher of the Indie Alehouse really got the fun started this morning by responding on AM1010 with Jerry Agar (skip to 39:38) and then The Beer Store’s Jeff Newton joined Jerry and got pretty roundly flustered. Lovely stuff.

 Print Media Coverage

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Photo by Robin LeBlanc

The Blogs

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In the interest of keeping the conversation going and maintaining a resource for everyone to share in the fun, please share your links or news schedule tips as comments here.

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In Spirit: J.R.’s Dry Organic Canadian Gin by the Toronto Distillery Company

In Spirit is the new bi-weekly contribution I’ll be making to Post City’s website. The name of the column was chosen from a short list of other horrendous “spirit” based puns and the idea is that, every other week, I’ll open a bottle of something and write about it. For this, my first entry, I wanted to write about a local Toronto distillery. If you’ve got ideas for overlooked, undervalued, rare, or just plain tasty booze worthy of look for my future posts, please send me an email with your suggestions! And watch out for my future editions. Cheers.  

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The term “gin” is really something of a catch-all.

A scan of the entry for gin in any thorough bartender’s guide will show you that there’s a lot more to the clear spirit than you might have first assumed.

There are four different legal definitions of gin in the European Union alone and a handful of ways you might make a product that can be called gin, including pot-distilled gin, or column-distilled gin, or the lesser “compound gin.” Really, the only thing all gins have in common is that they use juniper berries and some other combination of botanicals to flavour what begins as a neutral spirit. The botanicals a distiller uses are essentially what makes any gin taste different than any other and ingredients as diverse as grapefruit rind, cinnamon, dragon eye (yes, that’s a thing), orris root, and saffron might be used to flavour the stuff. Even the way these botanicals are added varies greatly from one gin to the next. Bombay Sapphire, for example, is distilled using a “gin basket” whereby a selection of botanicals are placed in a basket in the path of distilled alcohol vapour, and in so doing, the vapour takes on the flavours of the botanicals. Beefeater gin uses botanicals that are steeped in the base spirit for a day, like tea, and then filtered and redistilled.

Most people, sucking down G&Ts at the cottage or unwinding with an ice cold post-work martini, probably don’t appreciate the complexity and variety of what’s in their glass.

But then Jess Razaqpur isn’t like most people.

Having co-founded the Toronto Distillery Co. in the Junction with his high school friend Charles Benoit, Razaqpur is a self-confessed “gin guy.” And so while the company business has thus far been largely devoted to the production and marketing of their unaged organic whisky, it’s clear Razaqpur is excited for the launch of “J.R.’s Dry Organic Canadian Gin.”

And yes, that really is him on the label.

Read the rest of this post over on Post City…

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