Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


Five local stouts you should drink, and why you should drink them

Despite nearly five years writing fairly regular “top [number] beers for [occasion]” posts for blogTO, I’m actually not a huge believer in the idea that you need to change your drinking habits based on the seasons.

Drink juicy IPAs in the winter if you want. Enjoy boozy, barrel-aged beasts in the throes of August. Drink Pumpkin beer never. Whatever.

That being said, I do find that I tend to crave darker beer around the time the leaves start to change and so this seems like as as good a time as any to take a look at what I feel is an oddly-overlooked category here in Ontario, namely stouts. Now I know there are plenty of brewers who make great imperial stouts, and I know that there are brewers who make seasonal, occasional, or one-off stouts, but frankly I’m not sure when we decided that that dark beer was something we only needed from time to time and when we decided stouts needed to have double digit ABV, be bourbon-barrel aged, or include chili-peppers, or vanilla.

And so with that in mind here are five well-made, widely-available, year-round stouts (and one probably-soon-to-be-year-round) that are worth checking out this fall. Or winter. Or whenever. Continue reading

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Haiku reviews: Big Rock Brewery’s Citradelic Single Hop IPA

Haiku reviews is a feature wherein I invoke the brief and impressionistic style of poetry to devote exactly 17 syllables to reviewing a beer.
Big Rock Brewery’s Citradelic Single Hop IPA

If, five years ago,
this beer hit Ontario,
it would have been great.

What they have to say: “A refreshing IPA, Citradelic Single Hop IPA gets its name from the Citra hops used in the brewing process. For Citradelic, repeated heavy dosing and dry hopping brings out the smooth citrus and tropical tones of the Citra hop. These hops are grown in Washington’s Yakima Valley, one of the most fertile and productive hop-growing regions in the world.”

Want to send me a beer for the haiku review treatment? Drop me a line.

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The “straight” goods: Toronto Distillery Co.’s First Barrels Whisky


The first new distillery in Toronto since 1933 has just launched the city’s first 100% organic whisky, and in addition to bringing about “the rebirth of whisky distilling in one of the historically great whisky cities of the world,” its makers are hoping the bottle and its contents might start a conversation about whisky standards in Canada.

Launched in 2013 by Charles Benoit and Jess Razaqpur, the Toronto Distillery Co. was borne of two high school buddies’ shared passion for whisky. Given the requirement for whisky to age, the start-up company located in the Junction (directly next door to Junction Craft Brewing) has, like most new distillers, largely been selling organic gin and “new make” grain spirits, an unaged whisky that you might know by the less refined moniker “moonshine.”

Until now. Continue reading


An honest public relations invitation

to: undisclosed recipients
date:Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 10:58 PM
subject: Exclusive sneak peak

Hi food and/or drink blogger!

I have never read your blog before, and in fact had never even heard of you before today, but I’d like to mention your website by name here in my opening so that it seems like I am a reader of yours and not a public relations intern contacting you with an unsolicited invite to a marketing expense disguised as an event.  I especially liked that one recent post of yours on that thing you wrote about.

I’m reaching out today because I Googled a few keywords relevant to the food and drink industry in this geographical region and, as a blogger with a tangential relationship to the restaurant I’m representing, you and the 50 other internet-based media types I will be contacting today will probably be very interested to learn about the the event for which I’ve been tasked with generating buzz. Continue reading


The Ontario beer state of the union

Ontario Flag

On Thursday, at Beer Bistro in Toronto, awards were handed out to the fan favourites in a variety of categories for Ontario’s beer scene for the 2016 Golden Tap Awards.

The occasion, which likely skews a little too heavily toward Toronto beer bars and breweries, is probably about as good a way as any to take the pulse of the province’s current beer trends, and thus seemed to me like an appropriate time to reflect on the Ontario beer scene generally. Also, yes, I won one of these awards again last night and so I feel compelled to actually contribute something instead of resting on my laurels.

And so I had a few beers and thunk on it, and I’ve concluded that the craft beer scene in Ontatio is great.

But it’s time to get serious. Continue reading

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10 totally true facts about Toronto Beer Week


In a few hours, Toronto Beer Week will kick off with a launch party at the Summerhill LCBO.

The next week will feature a slew of events in and around the city and even an official beer, Interloper, a barrel-aged, blended farmhouse beer made by Indie Alehouse and available at the LCBO, participating TBW bars and at Indie’s bottleshop.

That much you probably already knew.

But to help you make the most of your Toronto Beer Week and give you the inside scoop, I’ve put together this list of 10 totally true facts about Toronto Beer Week.

Everything written here is totally 100% true. Obviously. Continue reading


Contest: Win two tickets to Cultivate: a food and drink festival

Have you found yourself lamenting the fact that summer is winding down and there are thus fewer and fewer opportunities to combine your love of food and beer festivals, road trips, and pie-baking competitions?

If so, I’ve got good news for you.

On September 23, 24, and 25, Port Hope Ontario will play host to Cultivate: A Festival of Food and Drink–and Ben’s Beer Blog is giving away a pair of weekend passes to one lucky reader.

Cultivate is a three-day celebration of local food and, as you might imagine given that you’re reading this on a beer blog, there will be beer there, too. Continue reading