Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


What to expect from Ontario beer in 2018

Because it’s that time of year, here are the things that I think are going to shape the conversation as it relates to beer, especially in Ontario, in 2018.

When it comes to the craft beer industry, it seems kind of crazy to me how little attention is being paid to the legalization of marijuana in Canada. To my mind it is impossible to suggest that the destiny of any meaningful changes to our beverage alcohol sector won’t now be intrinsically tied to all things pot.

Government resources are right now being dedicated to drafting new legislation, debating policies, and creating laws that will govern how each province will handle the prospect of legal weed. And if you’re a pot fan or a policy wonk, these are exciting times, but if you had any hope that you might see meaningful changes to your respective province’s liquor laws anytime soon, I’ve got some bad news for you: Much of the resources and political capital that would be needed for progress in the world of beer are going to be focused squarely on sticky-icky for a while. Continue reading


The Ontario beer state of the union

Ontario Flag

On Thursday, at Beer Bistro in Toronto, awards were handed out to the fan favourites in a variety of categories for Ontario’s beer scene for the 2016 Golden Tap Awards.

The occasion, which likely skews a little too heavily toward Toronto beer bars and breweries, is probably about as good a way as any to take the pulse of the province’s current beer trends, and thus seemed to me like an appropriate time to reflect on the Ontario beer scene generally. Also, yes, I won one of these awards again last night and so I feel compelled to actually contribute something instead of resting on my laurels.

And so I had a few beers and thunk on it, and I’ve concluded that the craft beer scene in Ontatio is great.

But it’s time to get serious. Continue reading

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10 totally true facts about Toronto Beer Week


In a few hours, Toronto Beer Week will kick off with a launch party at the Summerhill LCBO.

The next week will feature a slew of events in and around the city and even an official beer, Interloper, a barrel-aged, blended farmhouse beer made by Indie Alehouse and available at the LCBO, participating TBW bars and at Indie’s bottleshop.

That much you probably already knew.

But to help you make the most of your Toronto Beer Week and give you the inside scoop, I’ve put together this list of 10 totally true facts about Toronto Beer Week.

Everything written here is totally 100% true. Obviously. Continue reading


Iain McOustra: The Proost Questionnaire

The Proust Questionnaire is a famous questionnaire about one’s personality. Its name and modern popularity as a form of interview is owed to the responses once given by the French writer Marcel Proust. Ben’s Beer Blog has co-opted this format in order to provide a revealing look at people making beer and working in the beer industry in Ontario. As such, I’ve renamed it The Proost Questionnaire, since “proost” is the Dutch word for cheers. Clever right?

Iain McOustra, the brewmaster for Toronto’s Amsterdam Brewery reveals his affinity for chefs, the British overseas intelligence agency, and swimming off Caribbean islands.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Walking with my wife around the city. Stopping in at our favourite spots and wasting the day away eating and drinking.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Tracking down all of Pavement’s record store day releases.

What is your favorite occupation?

Brewing beer “not to style” but how I like it.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Harry Smith.

Which living person do you most admire?

Chefs. They all seem to be a little crazy.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Impatience and a tendency to respond without thinking. Continue reading

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The lost barrel of “Trombsterdam”

This is actually the best picture I took of the beer. Make of my phone's choice of focus what you will...

This is actually the best picture I took of the beer. Make of my phone’s choice of focus what you will…

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be among a select group of “media influencers” chosen to attend a private dinner at the still-under-construction second location for Toronto’s Rock Lobster. Now if hearing “media influencers” and “private dinner” makes you picture an intense session of social media junkies instagramming the shit of their meals, you should know this: 1) You’re absolutely right, and 2) I don’t care what you think I ate an amazing seafood dinner and got an article out of the deal.

You should also know this: In addition to the aforementioned delicious meal, the evening provided some excellent libations. Barrel-aged cocktails are the name of the game at Rock Lobster so it was no surprise when a handful of good ones ended up in my belly that evening. What was a surprise though was the appearance of a collaboration I had heretofore never heard of: Trombsterdam, a seemingly-right-up-my-alley joint effort from Tromba Tequila and Amsterdam Brewing Company. Continue reading


Amsterdam Takes Over Volo, Haters Shut Your ‘Dam Mouths

Amsterdam Volo Takeover

If you read blogTO with any sort of frequency, you’re probably aware that the comments section tends to head toward negative town in quite a hurry. Typically, I accept this as part of blogTO’s charm. Sort of a “Come for the news, stay for the angry urban snark (or, transversely  chest-thumping 905er indignation).”

It’s all in good fun and comes with the terrain.

Sometimes however, the criticism gets under my skin a little. Specifically, I’ve noticed that any time I mention the folks over at Amsterdam Brewery, comments tend toward the sort that dismiss the beers the ‘Dam Good Beer folks are making as boring or bland. Continue reading

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High Octane Local Beers to Fight the Mid-Autumn Chill

With this bloody cold nip in the air, but still a couple months before the official start of Winter, we’ve entered a nasty, windy, often wet part of the year frequently devoid of sunshine, but without any of the charms that snow can bring.

Accordingly, it’s a time of year that’s best suited to a certain kind of beer with a hearty dose of that most comforting autumn ingredient–and I’m not talking about pumpkin.

No. I’m talking about my old friend alcohol. It’s cold and rainy out and it’s a time for comforting oneself with strong drink. So in the spirit of this drab season, here are some potent local offerings that just might serve as a welcome port in the storm.

Continue reading