Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


2 Comments

Bellwoods Brewery is planning to expand their brew pub

Thanks to publicly available documents and a tip from an anonymous reader of the blog who works in the area, I have discovered that Bellwoods Brewery is looking to expand their brew pub to take over the space next door to them at 120 Ossington.

Currently the home of V de V “a vintage and industrial style furniture and home accessories store,” 120 Ossington is a corner lot located directly next to Bellwoods’ existing location and features frontage on Ossington and a considerable footprint in which the brewery could expand its operations. The proposed development plans for the brew pub expansion reveal that the space could add significant seating and a larger kitchen space. Continue reading


2 Comments

Food and Beer, the book

9780714871059-3d-grey

On the short list of things I’m really enthusiastic about, beer, food, and books all rank fairly highly.

That’s why I was pretty excited to check out a review of copy of the book “Food & Beer,” by Daniel Burns, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø,and Joshua David Stein.

Burns and Jarnit-Bjergsø share space in Brooklyn where their respective attached homes, Luksus and Tørst, elevate beer to the status it deserves as they pair it with both casual food and fine dining in two environments that rank among the coolest places to drink a beer I’ve ever seen. Tørst is humbly self-described as a neighborhood bar, but it is in fact a barnboard, white-marble, and mirrored shrine to good beer where serious beer enthusiasts come to drink from Tørst’s custom wine glasses and beer is the only beverage served. Essentially, Jarnit-Bjergsø is overseeing the physical embodiment of the happy place from my dream journal (Incidentally Jarnit-Bjergsø is also the evil twin who founded Evil Twin Brewing).

Daniel Burns oversees the menu of casual fare at Tørst where, at the back of the bar is a “secret” door leading to Luksus, a 16-seat tasting menu restaurant that Burns helms, where diners are “transported to a Nordic-inspired evening, influenced by the chef’s time in England and America, and his childhood in Nova Scotia.” Each dish at Luksus is paired exclusively with beer chosen by Jarnit-Bjergsø. Wine and cocktails are not available. Because fuckin’ eh, man.

Burns and  Jarnit-Bjergsø have written this book with Joshua David Stein (the food critic for New York Observer) and, as you might have guessed by the flurry of credentials I’ve already thrown at you, the book is dope, as the kids say. Continue reading


3 Comments

Beer and sick Asian food at DaiLo

*I received financial compensation for this post.

Shane Mulvany at Lopan
To my mind, there are few things more disparate than Chinese food and a Big Mac and, if you were able to somehow bring these items together in one dish, my first guess wouldn’t be that it would end up as much more than a mess.

But that was before I had dinner at DaiLo.

Located in the former home of Grace at 503 College, an area which now boasts La Carnita, Snakes and Lagers, and Bar Negroni and will likewise soon welcome Grant Van Gameren–the guy behind Bar Isabel–right next door at 505 College, DaiLo reunites sommelier/front of house manager Anton Potvin and Chef Nick Liu, a duo that formerly found success together at Niagara Street Café. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Wining and Dining at The ACC

Call it a throwback Thursday if you want, but this post originally appeared on Post City in November of 2013. I recently had occasion to revisit it and thought it might be worth sharing again (i.e. I’m a little busy right now and this is an excellently lazy way to get a little blog traffic today!)

ACC

W hile recent years have done much to lower our expectations when it comes to the athletes who call the Air Canada Centre home, there is a group of people who happen to work in the same building who put in a remarkable effort every single Leafs and Raptors game (not to mention Toronto Rock games and all the concerts).

They are the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment food service employees and, while the city has clearly grown all too forgiving when it comes to “off nights” from both the Raptors and the Leafs, we’re far less apt to show forgiveness when it comes to the beer and hotdog we buy at the game, so these people need to be on their game.

Thankfully, it’s a responsibility they take seriously. As Robert Bartley, Senior Director of Food and Beverage will tell you, “We like to think of it as hosting a dinner party for 18,000 people every night.”

Indeed, the ACC is one of only a handful of professional sports facilities that opt to cook for their dinner guests themselves. Most sports facilities, like The Rogers Centre down the street, contract third parties to handle foodservice. The Jays, for example, have left the foodservice to Aramark, a massive US-based foodservice company that handles sports facilities in addition to educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and even prisons. Continue reading


1 Comment

Making the connection: Talking beer and food with Crystal Luxmore

Luxy

Crystal Luxmore is a Toronto-based beer writer whose work has appeared in The Toronto Star, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, The Walrus, The New York Times, CBC and msn.ca and she was the “Hopped Up” columnist for what was easily Toronto’s best weekly magazine, The Grid (RIP).

She’s also a Certified Cicerone and a Prud’homme Beer Sommelier.

Accordingly, it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about beer. This month, as part of my ongoing efforts to explore the relationship between dining and beer, I chatted with Crystal via email about beer, food, and why beer isn’t afforded the same respect as wine–yet.

Ben Johnson: As a cicerone and prud’homme certified beer sommelier, do you put a lot of thought into beer and food pairings when you’re dining at home or eating out?

Crystal Luxmore: I do, but I don’t sweat it too much. At home, I see what’s in my beer and main fridge, and usually choose the best possible match from what’s already chilled once dinner is ready. At a restaurant, I do think about it, but sometimes I’m more interested in trying a new one-off than finding the perfect match for my burger. Luckily with beer, it’s so versatile and easy to pair that if you’ve got great food and a great pint, you’ll be satisfied.

BJ: I feel like once you start paying attention to what beers work with what foods, you can’t NOT pay attention. It’s like a new level of snobbery when I’m with friends. First it was, “oh don’t drink that.” Now if I say, “well don’t drink THAT with THAT” I feel like I’m going to get punched in the head.

CL: Yeah. I would punch you in the face if you told me that. Taste is subjective and everyone’s palate is different, so what you think is right, is right—but only for you. Continue reading


10 Comments

Great draught selection is no longer enough

20140818-064649-24409204.jpg

Over the course of the last few blog posts, I’ve been trying to make the argument that “good” bars and restaurants need to incorporate thoughtful draught selection into the dining and drinking experience they provide. It’s something I feel strongly about and I hope that my writing as of late has contributed to the conversation on the subject.

Recently, however, I had an experience that made me realize that the inverse is also something worth talking about; namely places that do incorporate a thoughtful draught selection really ought to be held to account to provide a “good” restaurant experience.

I have a feeling that this post might piss some people off, but the thought came to me Saturday night when I popped into C’est What for a few pints.

I’ve been there plenty of times before, but this was the first time it ever dawned on me that C’est What is, to put it frankly, pretty awful. Continue reading


5 Comments

The best beer I’ve ever had: Mark McEwan

Previously I’ve asked “beer folks” to talk to me about memorable beers for my ongoing series, The best beer I’ve ever had. Recently, I put the call out to chefs and restaurateurs to detail their “best beer” experiences for me in hopes of exploring the important connection between food and beer.

For today’s installment, Mark McEwan shares his story. McEwan is the Chef/Owner of North 44, Bymark, One, McEwan and Fabbrica. He is also the author of Great Food at Home and Fabbrica, the star of The Heat and Head Judge of Top Chef Canada.

Mark McEwan

For the past three years, my executive assistant Jordie, executive chefs Andrew Ellerby (One, Fabbrica, McEwan), Brooke McDougall (Bymark), and I head down to Barbados in November for the Food, Wine and Rum Festival.

The four of us work for 12 hours a day prepping items for their main event, called Ambrosia, where 1200 guests enjoy appetizer offerings from six international chefs and six on-island chefs at the polo club [i.e. the ridonkulous Lion Castle Polo Estate.~ Ben.]

We are known for showing up at the prep kitchen with a great playlist, speakers, and cold Banks beer to get us through the days of 100-degree temperatures inside the non-air conditioned kitchen. Continue reading