As we rapidly approach the long weekend that unofficially marks the start of summer here in Canada and one that quasi-officially requires that we drink beer in order to celebrate it, we are also faced with the looming threat of an LCBO strike.
I’m growing fairly tired of this refrain for a couple reasons. First, I’m inherently suspicious of any solution being offered by an organization that stands to profit massively from said solution. Perhaps they really are just being nice, but hearing the LCBO say “You better come spend a lot of money at our stores ASAP!” really turns me off actually doing it and, given my tendency to leap to unlikely conspiracy theories, is almost enough to make me think that maybe the whole strike is just a massive, brilliant marketing campaign to get us all hoarding booze (Whether or not the ghost of Elvis is involved remains to be seen).
In case you’ve been living under a rock the past couple years, you may have noticed that the province is fairly flush with local craft brewers these days. What you might not also realize is that most of these brewers have their own retail space on-site where they sell their own beer.
For a number of reasons, these local breweries’ retail stores are excellent places to buy your beer. Those reasons include:
- The looming (possibly interconnected to the JFK assassination?) LCBO strike will have zero effect on the ability of these stores to stay open.
- These stores frequently have even longer hours than the LCBO so, if you’re lucky enough to live near one, you might actually find buying beer there more convenient.
- When you buy from the brewery you are (obviously) getting brewery-fresh beer. Just like produce, bagels, or underwear, beer is a product that is usually infinitely better when it’s fresh.
- When you buy local beer, you’re supporting local businesses. The little guys selling from their own brewery aren’t owned by big corporations. They’re small business owners who appreciate your business. Bonus: Sometimes the person who hands you the beer is actually the person who made it. Who better to chat with about what to drink than the guy or girl who toiled over the very hops and barley used to make it?
So in view of the impending closure of the LCBO, I’ve updated my best-kept-secret-on-the-internet, the Road Map to Craft Beer in Toronto. Featuring all the GTA’s craft breweries, and better beers bars (and LCBOs, for post-strike needs), this map will definitely help you find some local beer close by so you won’t have to give any money to foreign-owned AB InBev, Molson-Coors, or Sapporo this oh-so-Canadian-holiday-weekend (celebrating the Queen of another country…)
And don’t forget, nobody’s striking at your local craft beer-supporting bar this weekend, so they’re on here too. No need to hoard. Just drink local!
(the embedded map might be a little tricky to navigate so you might want to check out a large version that includes a legend)
As an alternative to buying beer directly from the brewery this weekend, my 7 months pregnant wife also offered the suggestion, “Or maybe you could just stop being so fucking dependent on alcohol.” So, there’s that option too…