Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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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


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Finance Minister Charles Sousa proposes “major blow” to the province’s craft distillers

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Ontario’s craft spirit makers have for some time been fighting an uphill battle to make running a distillery in this province less arduous.

Led in large part by the Toronto Distillery Company, who in 2015 challenged the LCBO on the imposition of taxes on their onsite store that they deemed “unconstitutional,” Ontario spirit makers have been asking the government to amend current archaic alcohol taxation laws to level the playing field.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa just introduced a bill to revamp these tax laws, and it ain’t pretty.

Bill 70, introduced by Minister Sousa on Wednesday, includes a whopping new 61.5% sales tax for stores owned and operated by Ontario’s small and independent distilleries. Continue reading


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Five great beers for a forced obligatory Halloween blog post

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It’s Halloween, which means our houses will soon be filled with candy–either leftover from trick or treaters that never showed or dutifully collected from the neighbourhood by our own kids–and you know what that means: it’s time to capitalize on this annual event with an article that clumsily attempts to link two things as disparate as candy and beer!

Candy, of course, doesn’t pair very well with beer at all with the possible exception of chocolate and some stouts, but even then eating chocolate tends to negate the “chocolate-y” aspects of stouts leaving you to only taste the bitterness and roasted malt characters of the beer.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to force these things together today with some beer and candy pairings because, hey, web traffic. Continue reading


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Haiku reviews: Half Hours on Earth’s Micro Threat

Haiku reviews is a feature wherein I invoke the brief and impressionistic style of poetry to devote exactly 17 syllables to reviewing a beer.

Half Hours on Earth’s Micro Threat 

Dusk fell on the park.
She offered me a Sweet Tart,
And we said goodbye.

What they have to say: Uh, not much, actually. But it’s a 3.5% tart brett grisette.

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


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

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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.
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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.