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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‘International destination’ beer bar coming to Toronto’s Little Italy

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Tomas and Julian Morana, two brothers whose family is behind Bar Volo, Cask Days, and–through their import business Keep6Imports–a large chunk of the cool import beers you can find in better Toronto restaurants and bars, have confirmed that they are opening a new bar.

As Toronto Life pointed out yesterday (damn you for scooping me! *shakes fist*) the location of the long-rumoured “second Morana family bar” has finally been revealed as Little Italy. Specifically, the bar will be at 612 College Street in the former home of Souz Dal Tiki Bar next to The Royal Cinema.

I spoke with Tomas Morana and he filled me in on some details. Continue reading


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Great draught selection is no longer enough

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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


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Fucking IPA Challenge is the same weekend as my fucking canoe trip

IPA challenge

Tickets went on sale today for the 5th annual Cask Conditioned IPA Challenge at barVolo.

This year, the event falls on May 4th and 5th–as luck would have it the same fucking weekend I’m scheduled to take a fucking canoe trip with my fucking brothers.

The guys from Volo, who are responsible for some of my favourite fucking beer events and whose bar is one of my favourite fucking places to grab a pint after work, have seen fit to schedule the event–focusing on my favourite fucking style of beer–on the only weekend of the fucking summer that my three brothers and I are all available to get together for a long-planned journey down the fucking Saugeen River. Continue reading


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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