Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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Hamilton welcomes MERIT Brewing

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Hamilton is cool.

It feels weird to say that, but it is becoming increasingly harder to deny. The place has some great craft beer bars like Brux House, a good festival scene with great events like the Because Beer festival and a growing selection of breweries in the surrounding area. While it’s not saying all that much, it’s enough to make a thirsty writer in London a little jealous.

And now I have one more reason to be jealous. Yesterday it was announced that MERIT Brewing Company  would be opening its doors at 107 James St. North. Continue reading


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Let’s talk about sexist beer marketing

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Women drink craft beer.

It seems like a pretty obvious statement, but apparently it needs to be said.

So I’ll say it again, this time with dramatic punctuation: Women. Drink. Craft. Beer.

They drink a lot of it and the number of women who are discovering the craft beer industry is growing every single day.

As of 2013, women account for 25% of total beer consumption by volume in the United States and they account for 37% of total American craft beer consumption.

A recent poll suggests that beer is now actually the first choice of alcoholic beverage for US women aged 18 to 34 (Take that, white wine).

Women work in craft beer, too. According to a 2014 Auburn University study, the United States brewing industry is now roughly 29% female.

And while statistics on gender-specific drinking habits here in Canada aren’t quite so robust as those recorded by our YUGE neighbours to the south, even a cursory glance at our local brewing scene would suggest that here in Ontario women are embracing craft beer just as wholeheartedly. Continue reading


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A Canadian-made Sierra Nevada beer comes to Ontario today

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In August, 14 beer-loving Canadians traveled to the Mills River, North Carolina brewing facility of famed pioneer craft brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. for a collaboration.

The result of that collab, the unfortunately named “The Eh! Team” beer, is a peppercorn-spiced farmhouse saison that has just hit the draught lineups of a handful of great Ontario beer bars, all of whom were on hand for the beer’s creation.

The beer was made as part of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp collaboration series that welcomed Ontario beer writer Crystal Luxmore and the owners of Picton’s County Canteen, Kingston’s two Red House pubs, Toronto’s beerbistro, Birreria Volo, Bar Hop, and the Indie Ale House. Continue reading


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Catching up with Bellwoods Brewery

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The opening of a second Bellwoods Brewery location in Toronto has been something of a long saga, but on December 17th, the ability to buy their much sought-after beer in another locale became a reality when they opened the doors of a production-focused facility at 20 Hafis Road.

Toronto beer enthusiasts will recall that the beer-making darlings of the Ossington Strip first announced a proposed second location way back in August of 2014, but the proposed site number two was slated for 950 Dupont Street in the former Hamilton Gear and Machine building.

But then there was the pesky and annoying possibility that said second location would be unable to sell bottled beer thanks to a weird rule in the province’s liquor legislation.

That arbitrary 25,000 hectolitre rule was, thankfully, one of the few things changed as part of Ontario’s profoundly lacklustre “revamping” of our liquor laws that came into force on Canada Day of 2016, and so presumably the stage was set for Bellwoods to soon have two bottle shops.

And yet, the beer drinking public continued to wait. Continue reading


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Muskoka Brewery’s one-off beer game changer

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Muskoka Brewery appears poised to bring their A game to 2017.

As I’ve noted of the Bracebridge brewers before, I feel like they’re in something of a weird spot thanks to their size: they’re often regarded by beer nerds as “big craft” thanks to the fact that they’ve been around a while and they’ve enjoyed some commercial success but they’re also interested in continuing to make interesting beer so their offerings don’t always necessarily play directly to Joe Sixpack’s palate. Try, as I once did, giving Mad Tom to your Budweiser-swilling uncle, for example.

So it’s interesting to watch their struggle, which is unique to only a handful of craft brewers in Ontario thus far: How do they keep growing without losing “craft cred?” How do they keep their Cream Ale-chugging local base and appease the Toronto neck beards?

Well, you gotta try some new shit, or risk getting stagnant. Continue reading


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Five great uses for The World Atlas of Beer that do not involve reading

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First published in 2012, The World Atlas of Beer by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont is a beer book about which many nice things might be said.

It might be said that it’s fairly remarkable in that it is sweeping in scope; taking you on a beer tour with brief stops in literally almost every part of the world; yet somehow manages not to be tiresome or overwrought in its aims. With excellent illustrations and photographs, one might also say that this book, billed as “the essential guide to the beers of the world,” is as interesting to look at in passing as it is to read in depth and that it would make a fitting coffee table book for lovers of beer both professional and novice.

The book touches on the history, the science, and the art of beer and features everything from basic beer definitions, to explanations of the nuances of style, to pairing, pouring, storing and cellaring beer, and so one might easily say that this is a good candidate for the only beer book you might ever need.

Of course, I’m not going to say any of those things. Continue reading


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Finance Minister Charles Sousa proposes “major blow” to the province’s craft distillers

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Ontario’s craft spirit makers have for some time been fighting an uphill battle to make running a distillery in this province less arduous.

Led in large part by the Toronto Distillery Company, who in 2015 challenged the LCBO on the imposition of taxes on their onsite store that they deemed “unconstitutional,” Ontario spirit makers have been asking the government to amend current archaic alcohol taxation laws to level the playing field.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa just introduced a bill to revamp these tax laws, and it ain’t pretty.

Bill 70, introduced by Minister Sousa on Wednesday, includes a whopping new 61.5% sales tax for stores owned and operated by Ontario’s small and independent distilleries. Continue reading