Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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A conversation with Richard Sigesmund of Gleemer Imports

If you’re a fan of craft beer in Ontario and have spent any amount of time participating in the conversation about the scene online, it’s likely you’ve run into Richard Sigesmund.

A perennial critic of the province’s beer scene, Sigesmund generally isn’t afraid to tell anyone how he really feels about a certain beer, brewery, or trend and, on occasion, the conversation has been known to get a little heated. As of this post, for example, he has unfriended me on Facebook (though we still trade barbs on twitter and we chatted via email for this post).

To call him a fan of Belgian beer would likely be putting it lightly. Sigesmund travels to the region at least once a year and interned as a brewer there. He’s also an avid home brewer and has collaborated on a few brews with Toronto’s Muddy York brewing. And while he’s fairly quick to share his thoughts on the superior beer scene in other regions, unlike most Ontario beer-critiquing twitteratti or self-righteous beer bloggers (ahem), Sigesmund is poised to put his money where his mouth is later this year when he officially launchers Gleemer Imports, his very own Ontario beer agency “importing liquid happiness from Belgium and beyond.”

I chatted with the fledgling agency owner to see what we might be able to expect from Ontario’s newest beer importer. Continue reading


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Are beer drinking Saskatchewan football fans getting a rough ride?

Beer drinking fans of Saskatchewan’s CFL team appear to be getting something of a rough ride when it comes to their choices this season.

That’s because the Roughriders’ new stadium, which opened in August of 2016 and is slated to host its first regular season CFL game on Canada Day, appears poised to pour Molson-Coors products exclusively, despite much lip-service paid to craft brewers in the run up to Mosaic Stadium’s opening.

Now, exclusivity in arenas and stadiums likely won’t be all that shocking to most readers given that in Canada we’ve become accustom to a team entering a “partnership” with either Molson or Labatt (despite the fact that it is technically illegal in Ontario). Jays fans will note the all AB-InBev beer lineup at the Rogers Centre and fondly recall the shit show that resulted when the organization dared to offer Steam Whistle for one glorious season.

But the Saskatchewan Roughriders aren’t a privately owned team run by Canada’s biggest telecommunications company and their new stadium isn’t owned by any private entity. Continue reading


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How to talk to your friend about drinking shitty beer

Have you noticed that a friend or family member is still drinking beers like Budweiser, Molson Canadian, Coors Light, Miller Light, or even Pabst?

It can be difficult watching someone you care about drink shitty industrial lager. You may feel torn about how to discuss foreign ownership, adjuncts, and the fact that much more interesting beer exists. But while the conversation about dad beers is never an easy one, it’s necessary.

Before talking to your friend about their shitty drinking habits, it’s important to understand that they may not realize they have a problem. Some people happily picking up a 2-4 with a NASCAR shirt in it or grabbing a “suitcase” of “crushable” cans for a trip to the cottage may deny they have a problem entirely. Regardless of your friend’s reaction, stay calm and know that you have their best interest in mind.

First and foremost, collect your thoughts and think about what you’re going to say ahead of time. A supportive message will be received better than negative, hurtful language. This is a difficult time for your friend, so your reassurance will help them realize they’re not alone. Millions of people have learned to put down the industrial lagers and drink well-made, interesting beer. Macro abuse should be discussed sooner rather than later. The earlier you have the conversation, the quicker your friend can seek treatment and start accompanying you on brew pub visits, ordering flights of small batch beer, and taking part in your bottle shares. Continue reading


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Beau’s All Natural adds a full time IPA to their lineup

I don’t usually do detailed beer reviews any more, but sometimes I try a beer that makes me feel like talking.

Vankleek Hill’s Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. is about to release an IPA that will join their roster full time. Appropriately, it’s called Full Time IPA.

Here’s why I dig this: You could argue that the IPA trend in Ontario is on its way out (I mean you could. I probably wouldn’t listen), but we’re definitely ushering in a return to traditional, “simpler” styles like pilsners and lagers. And so Beaus, who are arguably best known for their kolsch-style beer, have decided to to offer a up a full time, hop-heavy beer because, why the hell not? Continue reading


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A new beer resolution

I recently made an important resolution in relation to my consumption of alcohol and I thought it was a subject that seemed prudent enough to share with readers of my blog. I also figured if I shared this resolution publicly, I would be more likely to stick to it and thought it might even inspire some of you to make similar resolutions.

I hereby resolve to only drink beer on the weekend.

Given that alcohol is, of course, an intoxicant and is best enjoyed with some degree of moderation, I feel like it’s important to set limits on my consumption of beer. Furthermore, reducing my beer intake is likely to help both my waistline and my budget. 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