Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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The Ontario beer state of the union

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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

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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


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

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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


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The session beer as a healthy alternative?

The session beer.

The term, essentially meaning a low-alcohol beer, has been in fairly common use for many years, but seems to have become something of a fad as of late. Perhaps the recent rise is in response to ever-increasing ABV levels of challenging and complex, hoppy, and barrel-aged beers, but it seems to me like the term is on the upswing for its obvious appeal to both beer drinkers and beer makers alike: Drinkers are obviously game for the implied “drinking session” and brewers are happy to have an alternative to the derogatory-sounding term “Light Beer”.

But it’s also become something of a controversial moniker.

The idea that a beer is crafted for “drinking sessions” can fairly easily be seen to encourage irresponsible drinking. After all, what is a “a drinking session,” really but cleverly-worded binge-drinking? Continue reading


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Top five places to drink beer in my house

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For roughly five years, covering the province’s craft beer scene from my condo in Toronto’s downtown, I was often called upon to write lists of the best new local beers, the best places making beers, and the best places to consume those beers.

Last year, I left the cozy confines of my shoebox-sized condo in the big city in favour of a house in London, Ontario with ample room to chase a toddler around. As such, I have less places nearby to go enjoy a beer and, truth be told, less inclination to even leave my property to do so. And so, because they say you ought to write what you know, I thought I’d offer up an insider’s guide to the places I tend to do most of my drinking these days. Here are the top five places to drink beer in my house. Continue reading


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The definition of craft beer

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There is seemingly no craft beer debate more constant–and arguably more annoying–than the ongoing debate over the meaning of the word “craft.”

Every few months or so since 2005, when the board of the Brewers Association first voted to draft a definition of what a “craft brewer” is, it seems like the debate again rears its ugly head on twitter or on the blogosphere and we are treated to a now-familiar littany of opinions from beer writers, websites, advocates, brewers, and bar stool pontificators on what exactly “craft beer” means and whether or not we even need such a term.

Local beer blogging’s resident grumpy old man, Alan McLeod, got me thinking about this frustrating debate again earlier this week when he brought the topic up in a post about the similarly elusive quest to define craft beer’s looming (or is it?) “bubble.”

In his quick revisit of the “craft” debate that has enjoyed renewed vigor since the BA began arbirtrarily changing its definition so that Samuel Adams continues to meet the terms, McLeod ultimatley reasons that “[The word]” now includes so much meaning – so many meanings – that it no longer has little specific meaning.”

McLeod also touched on the thoughts of famed spirits writer Lew Bryson, who in a recent interview pleaded “Just call it beer. It’s beer,” and McLeod likewise revisits a 2014 Toronto Sun piece by his occasional co-author, the esteemed Jordan St. John Esq., who landed on a similar conclusion when he opined that ““Craft beer” has served its purpose as an idea and we need to move past it.”

And so it is not without due respect to these and the many other beer experts who have asked rhetorically “who can define craft beer” that I say to them today: Well, I can. Continue reading