Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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The Ontario Craft Beer Guide, Second Edition: a review

Recently, beer writers Robin LeBlanc and Jordan St. John released the second volume of their guide to the breweries currently making beer across Ontario.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the aptly named Ontario Craft Beer Guide, Second Edition, and so, as I imagine the authors and Dundurn Press had hoped I would, I have undertaken the task of reviewing the book; and, as it seemed appropriate, I did so in a manner befitting the book’s subject matter.

Mostly a pale gold in colour, the book features spots of blue with white font and a sturdy, purple binding with about two fingers of head depicted along the top of the cover that has not dissipated in the twelve hours since I received this review copy. Including the comprehensive list of recommended pubs across the province, the book is a whopping 640 pages and is thus entirely opaque. Literally no light shines through it at all. 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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Documentary hopes to shine light on New Brunswick’s “Beerocracy”

Alex Vietinghoff and Shauna Chase are the co-founders of The Manattee, a New Brunswick-based satirical news site (think an Atlantic-Canadian version of The Onion). They’re also beer drinkers. When the duo, who share not only a sense of humour but also a taste for the province’s local beer, realized there was a story to tell about the struggle their local brewers were facing, they decided to take that story to the big screen.

Beerocracy is the duos feature-length documentary about the history of alcohol in New Brunswick and the ways that the province’s bureaucracy, high taxation, and complicated policies are proving to be a barrier to growth for the small province’s 40+  craft breweries. Alex and Shauna recently took a break from submitting their film to festivals  recently to talk with Ben’s Beer Blog about their film, New Brunswick, and what they’re drinking these days. Continue reading


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Beau’s All Natural adds a full time IPA to their lineup

I don’t usually do detailed beer reviews any more, but sometimes I try a beer that makes me feel like talking.

Vankleek Hill’s Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. is about to release an IPA that will join their roster full time. Appropriately, it’s called Full Time IPA.

Here’s why I dig this: You could argue that the IPA trend in Ontario is on its way out (I mean you could. I probably wouldn’t listen), but we’re definitely ushering in a return to traditional, “simpler” styles like pilsners and lagers. And so Beaus, who are arguably best known for their kolsch-style beer, have decided to to offer a up a full time, hop-heavy beer because, why the hell not? Continue reading


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Cheap beer is not a “drink of choice”

The following is a response to a recent National Post column entitled, “How cheap beer and its easy, crispy, inoffensive taste became the drink of choice.

Hi Claudia,

I read your column today, and I felt compelled to respond.

But before I do so, I must first address your title, even though I know it was likely an editor’s choice and not yours, but beer is not “crispy.” Crispy denotes firmness and brittleness. Wafers are crispy. Crackers are crispy. Your beer is not crispy. The term you are likely seeking is “crisp,” a lazy beer shorthand often lumped in with the words “clean” and “cold” as a way to pile on modifiers that all essentially mean “this tastes like nothing, and I like that.”

Anyway. To your actual article.

As someone who has written fairly extensively about the beer industry in Ontario for the better part of a decade, I felt obligated to speak up because, to me, you’re promoting some unfair preconceptions about craft beer that continue to make it seem inaccessible, and you’re discussing shitty beer as a choice people are making, and it often really isn’t. Continue reading


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Beer is supposed to be fun, remember?

Beer is fun.

Right? Beer–that is, drinking it, learning about it, making it–is fun! That’s why we’re all talking about the stuff and it’s why you bother to take time to read a beer blog (Thanks, by the way).

But man, sometimes it seems like we forget that and every once in a while we turn into a pretty cynnical bunch of snifter-swirling, stout-sniffing snobs (see: most of the things I write, for example).

And so sometimes it might be worth taking a considered look at the impact and target of our collective snark and maybe reign in the spray, just a touch.

Case in point, the Old Fashioned Cocktail Beer from Toronto’s Henderson Brewing, released last night at a party with the Martini Club at Dominion in Toronto.

A few days ago, the folks over at blogTO slapped together a post about the beer that noted it was “the country’s first official beer cocktail” and the beer nerds on twitter, Reddit, and elsewhere were pretty quick to pile on.

What makes this a cocktail beer, they asked each other, noting that it sounded much like a common rye beer. The gimmicks, others mused, are just too much. Continue reading


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A new beer resolution

I recently made an important resolution in relation to my consumption of alcohol and I thought it was a subject that seemed prudent enough to share with readers of my blog. I also figured if I shared this resolution publicly, I would be more likely to stick to it and thought it might even inspire some of you to make similar resolutions.

I hereby resolve to only drink beer on the weekend.

Given that alcohol is, of course, an intoxicant and is best enjoyed with some degree of moderation, I feel like it’s important to set limits on my consumption of beer. Furthermore, reducing my beer intake is likely to help both my waistline and my budget. Continue reading