Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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When it comes to beer, taste isn’t all that matters

drinking

In case you’re not among the 23,405 people who stopped by my blog on September 22, you aren’t one of the visitors who are still finding Ben’s Beer Blog in numbers that put my former best traffic days to shame, or you haven’t stumbled onto one of the many outlets who picked up the story after I wrote about it, you should know that for lack of a better term, I basically exploded the internet last week with a story about Shock Top, a beer that is made by Labatt and one for which they were planning a less-than-honest advertising campaign.

Obviously the story received the level of attention that it did because most people feel upset about the news that a large brewery was attempting to pretend to be a small brewery in order to increase sales of one of their beers. Indeed, by and large, that has been virtually everyone’s reaction–with a small but notable exception: Among the comments for that post, in the responses on reddit forums, and via twitter, there has been a small but vocal minority whose response has essentially been, “Who cares?”

This minority, some of whom I’ve talked to directly and others who felt the need to comment anonymously, have made roughly the same argument with varying degrees of tact and merit and that argument is “If the beer tastes good, drink it.” Continue reading


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Why right now is a great time to drink Canadian beer

Gauge this
H
ave you  been down at the pub lately and noticed that your favourite pints are tasting a little better than usual?

Maybe you picked up a six pack at the LCBO and your usual two evening beers turned into three evening beers because your regular brew was just tasting so darn great right now?

Well, as easy as it is to think that the vague scent of spring in the air might be the culprit for your improved drinking experience, I’m going to suggest to you that there’s another reason.

The reason that your beer tastes better than usual is probably that your beer actually is better than usual right now. Continue reading


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Starting a craft brewery? There’s an app for that

iCraft brew

When I first started reading the press release for the “iCraft Brew” app, “available for free for both Apple and Android devices,” and “geared toward that person who has dreamed of starting a craft brewing business,” I’ll admit my reaction was something along the lines of “Oh god. Really?”
Frankly, I’m skeptical of anything that refers implicitly or explicitly to the craft beer boom in Ontario as a “business opportunity” because I think it invites people to craft beer who aren’t so much into beer as they are interested in making a buck. The “craft beer business opportunity” mentality, to me, is what’s leading to an influx of less-than-stellar contract-brewed beer in cans that aren’t really helping the market so much as crowding it. To generalize: People who get into craft beer because they like beer are good, and people who get into craft beer because they want to make a buck are fuckheads. Continue reading


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My uncle doesn’t give a shit about craft beer

Not my uncle

My uncle doesn’t give a shit about the The Beer Store monopoly.

He also doesn’t really care to ponder the finer moral issues of the LCBO. 

Instead, he’s content to consume large amounts of Budweiser and, when the mood strikes him, Bud Light, and he has been happily doing so for virtually all the years I have been alive.

I think you’ll agree then that my uncle is a consumer of beer. Yet, if you were to scan the conversations currently happening in relation to beer in the province of Ontario, there’s not a lot out there that would interest my uncle.

Indeed, “raging against the Beer Store” and “bitching about the LCBO” probably rank among the most popular of all tropes when it comes to beer writing (see: this blog)–and with good cause. That the Beer Store–a foreign-owned private entity–is allowed to exist as the only alternative to the province’s state-run liquor distribution seems to me to be a fucking travesty. Similarly, said state-run liquor distributor, the LCBO (which I happen to thoroughly like) is far from perfect. Continue reading


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Let’s talk about contract brewing

Cool Expansion Before

It’s that time of year when everyone begins to trot out their end-of-year reviews and we look back on the year that was in beer.

And as we beer writers all surf through our own stories from the previous year in an effort to slap together an SEO-friendly list of happenings we’ve already written about, I feel like there is one item of significance that will get overlooked in a lot of people’s round-ups. It’s the fact that Cool Brewery in Etobicoke is currently wrapping up renovations that will see their space increased by 20%–renovations that have added  four new 330-hectolitre fermentation tanks, vastly increasing their production capabilities.

As they themselves noted in a recent edition of their newsletter, COOL NATION NEWS! each of these tanks will hold the equivalent of 96,800 bottles of beer.

As you probably know, it’s unlikely that those bottles will all be filled with Cool Brewing’s own brands of beer, Cool Lager, Buzz Hemp Beer, and Stonewall Light. Instead, it’s far more likely that the space will be dedicated to Cool’s other, increasingly lucrative business; namely, renting out their space to contract brewers. Continue reading


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Local listomania!

Hey dudes,

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been (Shh, I like to pretend there are people that frequently check my blog hoping for new content), I’ve been focusing my beer-and-booze-related writing efforts over on blogTO, a site where I actually get paid a little bit to write.

In case you missed it (Shh, I like to pretend there are people who actually click the links I share on twitter and facebook), I’ve written a few list-focused posts for blogTO as of late, and the result is that, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve now got all your Ontario beverage options covered for a while.

So I have provided the linked images below in order to cover all your local-drinking and Ben Johnson-reading needs until I have some time to devote to Ben’s Beer Blog again; but that might be a while because I’m currently working on a number of–you guessed it–list-focused posts for blogTO. Continue reading


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Big Rock SAAZ Republic Pilz is coming to Ontario

*an earlier, stupid version of this post was written as though SAAZ Republic Pilz was Big Rock’s first foray into Ontario. As Toronto Star Beer Columnist Josh Rubin helpfully pointed out, Big Rock beers have actually been here for about 20 years. This post has been revised to reflect the fact that this Big Rock Brewery is indeed the same Big Rock Brewery that currently has Big Rock Grasshoppper Wheat Ale, Big Rock India Pale, Big Rock Light Lime, Big Rock Traditional Ale, and Big Rock Warthog Ale all listed at The Beer Store. Yes, the entire conceit of this post–which was intended to be a transcript of my initial thoughts on the news–has essentially been destroyed, but I’m going to try to salvage the thing anyway because I don’t have time to rewrite it and oh great the baby’s crying I have to go. 

Saaz PPilsner

A couple weeks ago, the interwebs were all a-twitter with news that one of Canada’s oldest craft breweries–Calgary’s Big Rock Brewery–was bringing some new beer to Ontario.

The obligatory press release explained that the first of a series of new beer releases here would be SAAZ Republic Pilz, a pilsner with “a distinct but mild bitterness on the front end followed by a slight hop middle and a clean, refreshing finish.” It also explained that this release represented the first of of a total of three new beers slated for release in Ontario.

I don’t really know how I feel about this release, so, in order to convey my thoughts on the news, I’ve attempted to transcribe the conversation that occurred between the conflicting optimistic and typically dominant cynical voices in my own brain whilst drinking one last week.

Continue reading