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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New Ontario brewery press release

With so many new breweries opening in Ontario these days, and given how busy these fledgling small business owners can get in the run-up to actually opening their doors, I thought I’d help out and create a press release template these brewers might use to announce their arrival. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
YOURTOWN  ON – Date

Insert Name Brewing Co. is proud to announce we are now brewing beer at our newly renovated facility at (address) and we are open for tastings.

Founded by long time friends (your names), Insert Name Brewing Co. is the culmination of our shared dream to one day make our own beer and share it with the world.

“We’re all (circle one: bored engineers / on the same hockey team / very new home brewers) and one day over a few beers we hatched an idea,” says (name of most coherent co-founder), “and Insert Name Brewing Co. was born.” Continue reading


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Kensington Market is about to become a serious beer destination

kensington market beer

Back in 2013, it was with some degree of fanfare that Kensington Brewing Company, then a contract brewing company producing its beers at Wellington Brewery in Guelph, announced they would be opening an actual bricks and mortar brewery in their namesake neighbourhood.

At that time, a brewery in Kensington Market, one of Toronto’s most vibrant and eclectic neighbourhoods, seemed like a novel idea.

Fast forward to 2017 and Kensington Brewing Company, still under construction at 299 Augusta Avenue, is now practically in a race to be the first brewery in the neighbourhood as two–count ’em two!–other brewing facilities are potentially in the works on the very same street in the market.

Both Mike Duggan, a craft beer pioneer who helped found Mill Street brewery, and Collective Arts, a Hamilton-based operation with ties to the art and music scene, are seeking to launch brewing operations on Augusta Ave. Continue reading


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Ontario is getting tanked

Left Field Brewery New Tank

Apparently there was a sale on brewing equipment this month.

That seems to be the most valid explanation for the fact that a handful of Ontario breweries all opted to up their capacity and production capabilities this past couple weeks by adding a considerable amount of volume to their respective brewing operations.

Toronto’s Muddy York Brewing upped their capacity by 33% this week when they got in three new 7bbl (10hL) jacketed fermenters. Owner Jeff Manol tells me that this will give him the ability to lager things a bit more and do some bigger beers that can age (yay and yay). He hopes to have the new tanks in once they repaint their floors and finish the new glycol lines, and after that he says the company is set to build their taproom bar and hopefully have a tasting room open by June at the latest. Nice.

Left Field Brewery, also in Toronto, celebrated a fourth anniversary this month by not only coming to visit me (and other people) in London for an 11-tap takeover at Pub Milos, they also put in three 40bbl (40!)  fermenters and a 40bbl brite tank–upping their game from five fermenters and one brite. NICE. Continue reading


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Hamilton welcomes MERIT Brewing

MERIT Brewing Tej Jesse and Aaron

Hamilton is cool.

It feels weird to say that, but it is becoming increasingly harder to deny. The place has some great craft beer bars like Brux House, a good festival scene with great events like the Because Beer festival and a growing selection of breweries in the surrounding area. While it’s not saying all that much, it’s enough to make a thirsty writer in London a little jealous.

And now I have one more reason to be jealous. Yesterday it was announced that MERIT Brewing Company  would be opening its doors at 107 James St. North. Continue reading


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What’s in store for Ontario beer next year?

FullSizeRender

Last week I rounded up some of the biggest developments in beer in 2015 and it got me to thinking about the year ahead. Here are some of things I predict what we might see in beer in Ontario for 2016.


Small scale innovation

Grocery store sales are not going to be the tipping point for Ontario beer.  As I noted in last week’s post, that development doesn’t seem all that ground-breaking for me. I think it’s possible that, as the grocery store program rolls out over the next couple years, there might be some outlier chains and independent grocers who opt to support local and craft beer exclusively; however, given that Farm Boy, who were rumoured to be aiming at 100% craft beer on shelves, has opted to stock big beer on store shelves, I think it’s more likely that grocery stores will simply bring us more of the same beer we already have access to through the Beer Store and LCBO.

Instead, I think 2016 will continue to bring interesting and innovative solutions to Ontario’s unique legislative problems by way of small businesses and entrepreneurs. I predict a rise in home-delivery services that bring unique craft offerings to people in areas where distribution is difficult and I predict the coming of increased numbers of niche-market bars and restaurants that can offer rare imported beers given how hard it can be to bring in beers from other markets.  The forthcoming new bar from the family behind Bar Volo that will focus on barrel-aged and sour imports, to my mind, could be the first of many. Continue reading