Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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Sexist beer marketing: Meanwhile in Nova Scotia

A  few months ago I wrote a blog post discussing sexist marketing in beer and I called out–and chatted with–some Ontario breweries about marketing efforts I felt objectified women.

In the interim, there have been some changes worth noting. Whitewater Brewing, the Ottawa Valley area brewer who makes “Farmer’s Daughter Blonde,” has quietly updated the branding for that can and appears to have renamed their seasonal “Farmer’s Daughter’s Melons” to the decidedly less cringe-inducing “Watermelon Blonde.”

Niagara Brewing Company, the makers of “Amber Eh!,” an American-style Amber that features a semi-naked female lumberjack on the can, took the less strategic but still effective approach of responding to my repeated inquiries by simply blocking me on social media. I guess that works.

The other breweries mentioned have, to date, continued business as usual; including continuing to use the cans that I discussed.

As first reported here in August, Garnet Pratt Siddall, the then-newly-appointed chair of the Ontario Craft Brewers who spoke candidly with me for my article about sexist beer in the industry, has been terminated as the CEO of Collingwood’s Side Launch Brewing Co.

I’ve also confirmed with the OCB that she has likewise subsequently resigned as the chair and director of that organization. It remains to be seen who her replacement will be and, as such, it’s unclear whether the de facto figurehead of Ontario’s only organization advocating for small brewers will share Siddall’s interest in making changes related to offensive marketing.

Interestingly though, one of the most promising changes to come about since my article, and apparently as a result of it, comes not from Ontario, but rather from Nova Scotia. Continue reading


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The best beer I’ve ever had: Doug Lounsbury

As part of an ongoing series, The best beer I’ve ever had, I put the call out to other beer folks and ask them to detail their “best beer” experiences for me.

For today’s installment, Doug Lounsbury shares his (illegal) story. Lounsbury is one of the founders of the Georgetown Craft Beer Festival , now in its third year and taking place Saturday Sept. 16th, from 11-6pm.

This story might not be politically correct, as my best beer memory actually came at very young age.

When my father was in his mid 30s, he decided to move away from the city and give farming a shot. I was born a few years after this transition.

In the early 70s, when I was young, rural living was much the same as it is now. It meant early hours and hard work, with friends and neighbours helping each other out; especially at harvest time. My father had pigs, corn, and hay and it is hay that that led to my best beer memory.

In late summer, all of our neighbours would move from farm to farm assisting in the harvest. The hay was in bales and the men would follow the tractor and trailer, throwing the bales into neat stacks. Every man was needed for this backbreaking job and so who was left to drive the tractor? Well, at all of five years old, that job fell to me. My instructions were simply to keep the steering wheel straight and, on the turns, someone would jump up and maneuver it for me. I’m not entirely sure how many times I got to do this, but it is ingrained in my memory for one important reason: Beer.

When we were done I remember we all gathered in the shade and everyone had a Labatt’s Blue. I was having water, but I distinctly remember my dad let me have a taste of his beer.

I remember it being cool and bubbly.

To this day, whenever I finish working in the garden or cutting the grass, I have a cold beer and it brings me back to those days. Of course, these days it’s usually Steam Whistle, not Blue.


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Amsterdam’s Iain McOustra on what to expect from the brewery’s new Barrel House

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“We have sourced a small 3 hL brewhouse from a manufacturer located in Cambridge, Ontario. Our focus at the Barrelhouse will be on farmhouse ales and barrel-aging.

We have been working with barrels and brettanomyces since 2010 but it is difficult to do so in a working production brewery. Our new location will be a safe space to experiment with different Brett strains as well as aging with bacteria cultures. Our goal is to continue developing our house wild yeast strain while using the space to test different brewing techniques and raw ingredients. It’s essentially a lab, separate from the production brewery, that we can use to focus on making farmhouse ales that we love to drink.

It’s going to be a lot of fun and each of our brewers will have a chance to rotate through and learn about brewing with wild yeast and bacteria.

The majority of our barrels will continue to be stored at the Esandar Brewery (around the corner from the Barrel House). We don’t have enough room to store the entire program onsite at the Barrel House.”

~Iain McOustra, Brewmaster for Amsterdam Brewery, on the company’s forthcoming third location, which will open at the end of September. For a couple more details, check out my brief post in Toronto Life yesterday, here


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Anheuser-Busch springs into action canning drinking water, branding it, and drafting press release about it to support hurricane Harvey relief efforts

ST LOUIS, MO. (August 30, 2017) – Anheuser-Busch is delivering three truckloads – over 155,000 cans – of emergency drinking water to help communities in the Gulf Coast area in response to Hurricane Harvey. The company also brought in three interns and two marketing supervisors just to oversee promotion of this selfless gesture.

An initial truckload of water was sent from Anheuser-Busch’s Cartersville brewery in Georgia and delivered to the American Red Cross in Baton Rouge on Monday, August 28. Drafting of a press release about this generous help started around roughly the same time and interns worked around the clock to generate media lists and track down contact info for local newspapers, as well as national and web-based media outlets.

The Cartersville brewery halts production periodically throughout the year to prepare canned drinking water so as to be ready to help American communities in times of need.  Accordingly, the brewing giant already has surplus of cans designed specifically for water and emblazoned with a massive Anheuser-Busch “A” logo with its distinctive eagle so nobody mistakes the water for a philanthropic effort by a lesser brewery.

“Putting our production and logistics strengths to work by providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help in these situations” said Brad Billy, Anheuser-Busch’s Vice President for Outreach, “and rolling out a full-press PR effort to make sure everyone knows we did this ensures that shutting down beer production to can water isn’t just a big money-sucking waste of god damn time.”

Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast early Saturday with winds over 100 mph and devastating floods in some areas. The American Red Cross prepared over 50 shelters to support thousands of potentially displaced people. Anheuser-Busch and its world-class brewmasters have carried on a legacy of brewing America’s most popular beers for or more than 160 years and never miss an opportunity for good press.

“It’s crucial, even in times of crisis, not to lose focus on the importance of constantly position our brand,” Billy added. “Being a soulless, cash-hungry marketing machine means you can’t take a break during exceptional circumstances. Even in tragic situations, there’s an opportunity to market our tasteless, foreign-owned, industrial lager to dim-witted Americans. And you can bet your ass we’re going to jump all over it.”

ABOUT ANHEUSER-BUSCH
Anheuser-Busch Companies is a wholly owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, who bought the company via hostile takeover in 2008. At the time, the company laid off 1,400 employees and 415 contractors, and introduced zero-based budgeting. They also axed all company contributions to the salaried employee pension plan, cut company-provided life insurance to retirees, stopped tuition reimbursement, and canceled severance packages. The company also cut all employee perks like free tickets to St. Louis Cardinals baseball games and tickets to Busch Gardens. Anheuser-Busch had nothing to do with this fake press release that is clearly satire.


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For whom the bell tolls: Bellwoods Brewery v. Cowbell Brewing

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the ambitious opening of Cowbell Brewing in Blyth. For the most part, news of the 26,000 square foot destination brewery was met with enthusiasm and the responses to the brewery’s opening were almost entirely positive.

But, it would seem, not everyone is so enthusiastic about the coming proliferation of a “beer that rings true.”

Cowbell Brewing, I have learned, has actually been in a quiet legal battle with Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery over Cowbell’s entitlement to register a bell-themed trademark in Canada.

Through the Government of Canada’s publicly available trademarks database, I have learned that Bellwoods Brewery indeed has a registered trademark for its bell design for use in association with beer, operation of a brewery, and a handful of merchandise items. This trademark application was filed  on January 2, 2013 and officially registered on May 27, 2014.

Cowbell Brewery filed an application for their logo on November 19, 2015 and the application includes similar stipulations (though notably includes the addition of “noisemakers, golf towels, golf balls, [and] golf umbrellas,” which those dummies at Bellwoods didn’t think of branding).

A little digging reveals that Bellwoods has formally opposed issuance of a trademark registration to Cowbell for this logo. The opposition is ongoing. Continue reading


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Side Launch Brewing Company announces termination of CEO Garnet Prat Siddall

The board of directors of Collingwood’s Side Launch Brewing Company has announced the termination of the brewery’s President and CEO, Garnet Pratt Siddall.

In an announcement to staff and stakeholders of the company, Andy Wilder, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said the board “has decided that Side Launch would be best served with a new leader and the search for a new CEO will commence immediately.”

The statement includes assurances to staff the company will “continue to prosper and grow” and lauds the brewery’s “strong balance sheet.” As the reason for termination, Wilder indicated that “[i]t is normal that as an organization grows, the skills and processes needed to manage the organization change.”

A source tells me, however, that the board parted company with Pratt Siddall over “fundamental disagreements over how to run the business.”

That Side Launch has chosen to part ways with Pratt Siddall, who served as President and CEO since the company’s founding three years ago and inarguably helped the brewery rise to its current prominence, is a puzzling decision to say the least. Pratt Siddall brought experience in corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions to Side Launch, the company was named the 2016 Brewery of the Year at the Canadian Brewing Awards, and Pratt Siddall was recently elected by her peers to serve as chair of the board of directors for the Ontario Craft Brewers association. The first woman ever elected to that position.

I reached out to Pratt Siddall for comment but she indicated she was not prepared to discuss the situation.

Per the recent announcement, Side Launch Brewery’s interim CEO will be Al Stuart. Stuart is a Managing Partner of The Pilot in Toronto, former Vice President of Operations at Stuart Energy Systems Corporation, and is currently a director of the Bloor Yorkville BIA and sits on JAZZFM‘s board of directors.


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Silver Stacks Brewery and new adventure park announced for East London development

London’s east end is having something of a moment.

No longer associated derogatorily with being East of Adelaide (or EOA if you’re in the know) the east end is now home to what is arguably becoming London’s most vibrant neighbourhood, the Old East Village (aka OEV if you’re into the whole acronym thing).

An area that’s—let’s be honest—still a bit sketchy in some places, OEV is a pocket of affordable real estate that has, as of late, become something of a hot bed for interesting and independent  entrepreneurs (if you’re a Toronto reader, think The Junction, just with out all the stuff yet).

Aided by awesome spots for a coffee like 10Eighteen Coffee Bar (because everything starts with coffee), a seriously decent cheese store in All ‘Bout Cheese, and the mandatory weekly Farmer’s Market at the Western Fair Grounds, OEV is threatening to become an honest-to-goodness hipster hotspot. There’s even Urban Oven, a place to get gluten free bread to make your own bread at home, and the obligatory over-priced clothing store tucked in among a few vintage shops.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the area also has beer. Continue reading