Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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Bellwoods Brewery is planning to expand their brew pub

Thanks to publicly available documents and a tip from an anonymous reader of the blog who works in the area, I have discovered that Bellwoods Brewery is looking to expand their brew pub to take over the space next door to them at 120 Ossington.

Currently the home of V de V “a vintage and industrial style furniture and home accessories store,” 120 Ossington is a corner lot located directly next to Bellwoods’ existing location and features frontage on Ossington and a considerable footprint in which the brewery could expand its operations. The proposed development plans for the brew pub expansion reveal that the space could add significant seating and a larger kitchen space. Continue reading


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Cool Brewery wants to sell you dollar beer. And possibly weed.

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On Monday, Cool Brewery announced that they would become the second Ontario brewery to take up Premier Doug Ford’s “buck-a-beer challenge” and would attempt to make a one dollar beer.

If you’ve been paying attention to this story at all — and indeed it’s been fairly impossible not to — you’ll know that the response to buck-a-beer and the first brewery to take up the challenge, Barley Days Brewery in Prince Edward County, has been polarizing, to say the least.

As I first wrote a few hours after the announcement and as I repeated on CTV news and on a few local radio stations that day and the next, I think the whole thing is, at best, all rather silly. It was a fairly amusing political stunt with no real policy behind it, the Premier simply said, you can now make cheap beer and brewers could choose to if they wanted. Not a bad move for a politician, really. But as many brewers have pointed out as they too enjoyed an opportunity to do the rounds of media, it’s largely impossible to make a quality beverage, sell it for $1 and still turn any kind of profit. Doug Appledoorn of People’s Pint Collective had a succinct argument on CTV News, Mark Murphy of Left Field Brewery posted a dollars and cents argument on Facebook, Jason Fisher of Toronto’s Indie Alehouse, as is his wont, put things rather bluntly when he explained on Metro Morning that he couldn’t even make a profit selling one of his empty bottles for a dollar and many other breweries have taken up the call of myriad local media outlets looking for a soundbite. Fuelled by media who, perhaps rightly, have relished the chance to poke fun at the Premier, plus the fact that this is a story about the click-worthy subject of beer, and the fact that many a craft brewer is willing to talk about their passion for brewing beer with quality ingredients, buck-a-beer has really enjoyed a rather astonishingly-long media cycle.

Probably too long, really, given how meaningless it all is in the grand scheme of things.

And while I’ve tried to stop paying attention to the twitter-ramblings and politicizing of the buck-a-beer fallout, I can’t. It’s like a car wreck and I just can’t look away (of course when people are all up in your mentions because of a blog post you wrote, it’s even harder to look away). That said, I thought things might finally be dying down. In an aftermath that seemed to be 259-1 in terms of brewers opposed and brewers for the idea of buck a beer, it seemed that one side had probably finally won the argument, logic had prevailed, and maybe this would go away.

Until Cool’s announcement today. Continue reading


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Ontario brewers should think twice before they buck themselves

I’ve been hesitant to weigh in on the buck-a-beer fiasco for a few reasons, not the least of which is that fellow beer writer Jordan St. John already did it, literally the day Doug Ford’s campaign announced dollar beer was a possibility back in May. 

But now that it appears the PC government is going to make good on the promise and now that it appears an Ontario craft brewery is actually opting to pursue dollar beer, I’ve literally been asked to weigh in and will be appearing on CTV News Toronto at 6pm today so I’ve had some time to consider the possibility and thought I’d put my thoughts down here too since that is what a god damned blog is for, right? 

So here’s the problem with dollar beer: Economies of scale mean breweries simply can’t make a very good beer that will cost $1 and still make that brewery a profit. If you attempted to, you’d probably end up using extracts instead of real, quality ingredients, you’ll use adjuncts to get more bang for your buck and, essentially, a dollar beer is going to taste like it’s worth a dollar.  Continue reading


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The curious case of Von Bugle Brewing

I really like Steam Whistle.

I have for as long as I can remember. They make an excellent Czech-style pilsner and, provided you’re having it fresh and not from a green bottle that’s been exposed to the sun, it’s about as reliable a beer as you’ll find in any pub in Ontario, if not Canada. That’s, of course, largely because they make an effort to maintain all the draught lines pouring their beer and they’ve invested in a lot of expensive technology to ensure that the beer that gets to your mouth is always fresh as possible. 

Of course Steam Whistle, for some reason, has its haters. It’s a big company and has a pretty heavy-handed marketing presence and that isn’t always a turn-on for the die-hard craft beer fans. For my money though, Steam Whistle is also owed a pretty large debt of gratitude by this province’s craft brewers and craft beer drinkers for being among the brewing pioneers that broke down a lot of the early barriers to independent craft beer production and sales in Ontario. They fought a lot of fights so that brewers who came after them didn’t have to, and any one who chooses not to drink their beer because “the company is too big,” or some iteration on the theme of them being “too corporate” is, in my opinion, being ignorant of the Toronto brewery’s history and importance to the scene. 

Steam Whistle cares a lot about making good beer and they seem to care about the state of craft beer in Canada. 

And that’s why I really can’t figure out what the fuck they’re up to with their latest move.  Continue reading


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Max’s Big Beer

There’s obviously never a bad time to buy some local beer, but some times are better than others.

In two days, thanks to a fundraising collaboration between Hamilton brewery, Grain & Grit and Max’s Big Ride, a charity ride to benefit Duchenne muscular dystrophy, it will be one of those better times.

The charity is named after seven year-old Max Sedmihradsky, this happy guy.

From the organization’s website: Max rarely stops talking and one of his favorite topics is all of the things he’s going to do when he’s older, like learn to skateboard, ski and play hockey and soccer with his friends. The problem is that Max has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a terrible disease which doesn’t allow his muscles to develop like other kids, so unless we find a cure, he will never get a chance to do the things he dreams about doing in his future.

For the past three summers, Max and his dad, Andrew, have ridden a cargobike 600 km between Hamilton and Ottawa to raise money to help find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Continue reading


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Toronto’s East End brewers to announce a collective

All 10 bricks-and-mortar breweries currently operating in East Toronto have joined forces to form a brewing collective. The aptly named Toronto East Brewing Collective includes Brunswick Bierworks, Common Good Brewing, Eastbound Brewing Co., Godspeed Brewery, Left Field Brewery, Louis Cifer Brew Works, Muddy York Brewing Co., Rorschach Brewing Co., Radical Road Brewing Company, and Saulter Street Brewery and the group is set to release a statement announcing their formation later this week.

David Wallace, who handles Sales and Marketing for Muddy York Brewing Co, says the collective came not only from a shared vision of like-minded people who live and work in the area, but also a desire to put some focus on a region that can sometimes be overlooked.

“Most of the breweries in Toronto who have been the beneficiaries of media hype (deserved though it may be) are all clustered in the west end,” he says. “There’s already this ridiculous ‘cultural divide’ that makes people in the west end feel like traveling east of the Don Valley requires a full day of logistics planning and we’re hoping to dispel much of that nonsense.” Continue reading


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Where Ontario’s candidates for Premier stand on retail beer, and why it doesn’t matter

Over the past few days, much ado has been made about the candidates running to be the premier of Ontario and their various positions on beer sales in this province.

Doug Ford got the party started on May 18th by releasing an official statement through the PC party that he would “expand the sale of beer and wine into corner stores, box stores and grocery stores all across our province.”

In response, Kathleen Wynne opted to hold a press conference on Tuesday  that was, at best, embarrassing, in which she doubled down on her ongoing policy decision related to retail alcohol and invited no less than the CEO of MADD and the head of OPSEU, the union that oversees the LCBO, to join her. Basically, she confirmed she’s sticking to the grocery store plan she enacted (which, to be fair, was actually the biggest change to retail alcohol sales in something like 70 years).

Andrea Horvath, who presumably didn’t want to miss out on the fun of distracting voters from actual issues, then commented and suggested that an NDP government might actually review the entire idea of selling wine and beer at grocery stores all together—which seems entirely consistent with a pro-union NDP. They opposed the idea of beer in grocery stores at the outset. Continue reading