Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.

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A Canadian-made Sierra Nevada beer comes to Ontario today


In August, 14 beer-loving Canadians traveled to the Mills River, North Carolina brewing facility of famed pioneer craft brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. for a collaboration.

The result of that collab, the unfortunately named “The Eh! Team” beer, is a peppercorn-spiced farmhouse saison that has just hit the draught lineups of a handful of great Ontario beer bars, all of whom were on hand for the beer’s creation.

The beer was made as part of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp collaboration series that welcomed Ontario beer writer Crystal Luxmore and the owners of Picton’s County Canteen, Kingston’s two Red House pubs, Toronto’s beerbistro, Birreria Volo, Bar Hop, and the Indie Ale House. Continue reading


The Ontario Pale Ale and why I hate it


In case you’re new to my blog, you should know: I love Ontario beer. I also love pale ales. And yet, I hate the Ontario pale ale.

To be clear, “Ontario pale ale” isn’t actually a style in the strict BJCP sense of the word, but rather a term I use to classify a rather distinct subset of beer made in this province that goes by all manner of name from IPA to American Pale Ale, to Pale Ale and more. And, truth be told, it isn’t even a particulary bad kind of beer.

But still, I hate it. Continue reading


Cans vs. bottles: Further perspective from Steam Whistle Brewing

steam whistle

On Thursday, in a post I wrote about Nickel Brook’s Naughty Neighbour coming to can format, I offered up a bit of my own opinion along with the news.

In addition to a tangent about unions and my excitement that a great session ale was coming to a larger format, I offered up my two cents on why I prefer beer in cans over bottles. Among the insightful, humorous, and signature delightfully entertaining points I made in that post were my observations that cans offer the best protection against both light and oxygen and therefore offer the freshest possible means to enjoy a beer. 

Today, in response to my points, I received an email from Sybil Taylor, who is the Communications Director of Steam Whistle Brewing. Incidentally, she’s also married to one of the guys listed as a co-founder and she was the brewery’s first official employee. Sybil took some issue with my assertion that bottles can’t offer as fresh a beer, notably given Steam Whistle’s particular attention to detail in this area. In order to present both sides of this argument, with Sybil’s permission, I’ve opted publish the email she sent me. 

I wanted to write to set the record straight on this fact – at least as far as Steam Whistle is concerned. I’m not certain if what I’ll explain is the same for other brewers but in our case, our bottles do probably offer the best form of beer packaging out there. Our cans would run a very tight second. Continue reading


The world’s easiest beer-making kit


The emailed press release was intriguing.

MB Bottle Brew was boasting that they had launched the “World’s Easiest Beer Making Kit.” It was supposedly an all-natural, preservative-free, fermented-in-the-bottle-beer that takes just two minutes to make and is ready to drink in 10 to 12 days.

Perhaps most interestingly to a guy who spends a considerable amount of his paycheque on beer, MB Bottle Beer was touting the fact that it costs half the price of regular beer.

My Spider Sense was telling me to hit delete because a beer that advertises itself based on its low price point and the ease with which you can make it yourself typically suggests to me that it will taste like toilet.

But there was something about the email that I kept coming back to. Maybe it was this part: Continue reading


Homebrewer Creates Exact Replica of Westvleteran XII, Has No Idea

Todd Reynolds

Brampton resident Todd Reynolds inadvertently struck gold earlier this week when his homebrewing efforts netted him a batch of beer that was completely identical to the famed Belgian Trappist Ale, Westvleteran XII.

Working in his garage, Reynolds happened on the recipe entirely by accident in what he describes as “only my third or fourth time making beer,” admitting, “I don’t really know what I’m doing yet.” Continue reading

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You Should Already Be Drinking: Railway City Brewing Company’s Beers

Unless you live in a cave somewhere, you’ve probably already tried Railway City Brewing’s Dead Elephant IPA. It’s a perfectly solid little IPA that, for my money, ranks up there with Great Lakes Brewing’s Crazy Canuck among the best of the easier to drink Ontario IPAs. That is, for me, Muskoka’s Mad Tom IPA currently rules supreme when it comes to my go-to IPA, but when I’m looking to pick up a slightly easier to drink, hoppy Ontario beer, it’s a virtual toss up between a few cans of Crazy Canuck and Dead Elephant.

Which is to say: I dig their style.

Sadly, unless you live around St. Thomas, you likely haven’t been introduced to too much else that Railway City has to offer which, as it turns out, is a real shame. Continue reading

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Drifting into the argument like wild yeast…

Opinions in Ontario brewing are a lot like assholes and IPAs: These days, everyone has one.

There seems to be a lot of beer writing occurring as of late on the subject of beer writing itself—so I thought I too would jump on the masturbatory, navel-gazing bandwagon and offer my two cents and pretend that this little space I’ve carved out on the internets has any sort of influence at all.

The “conversation” largely began on the prolific and insightful “A Good Beer Blog.” Author Alan McLeod had offered up his opinion (as beer writers are wont to do) on an interesting little project being conducted by a co-operative of Ontario brewers who, in a nutshell, are attempting to brew beer adhering to ancient Belgian techniques that will, hopefully, see the beer fermented by wild indigenous yeasts the Brewers are hoping will drift into the open brewing vessels.

This is a broadly simplified explanation, and many other media outlets have done a much more detailed job, so feel free to seek them out if you want more information on the project (though be forewarned, none of them seem to answer my first question about the whole process, namely, won’t birds poop in the beer?!). Continue reading