Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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Allowing booze sales in convenience stores is a dumb idea

Convenient Beer

Clearly, I’m among those who feel that the province’s beverage alcohol retail system needs modernizing.

I think most would agree I’ve been pretty vocal on that subject in the past.

You’d think then, that I’d be on board with recent initiatives from the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) to lobby the province to let them sell booze.

Well I’m definitely not. Booze in convenience stores is a dumb idea.

In fact, allowing convenience stores to sell alcohol will simply give us more of the same shitty system we already have, just in more locations. And more of the same isn’t better, it’s worse. Continue reading


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Where to brew your own beer in Toronto

An edited version of this post appeared on blogTO’s “grocery store” section back on June 18, 2013, but because I’m not sure anyone has ever read blogTO’s grocery store section (I didn’t even know it existed), and because it means I can simply copy and paste to plop some content on my blog this week, I’ve opted to repost it here. Lazy!
What are your thoughts on “you brew” facilities like Fermentations?

Fermentations Toronto

In the argument about micro- vs. macro-brewers and the conversation about who brews the best beer locally, we tend to forget that there is another option when it comes to beer drinking, namely, making it yourself. But when few have the time, inclination, space, or knowledge to set up their own homebrewing operations, are there any commercial places in Toronto one can go to brew a batch of beer themselves?

Well yes, as it turns out–but just one. Continue reading


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Old Man Johnson IPA is coming to Bryden’s

Perhaps the beer should have been called "Dork in a sweatshirt"

Perhaps the beer should have been called “Dork in a sweatshirt”

A month ago, I contacted the folks at Great Lakes Brewery to see if I might come out to do little profile and photo spread for blogTO (a post that, aptly, ended up being called “Behind the scenes at Great Lakes Brewery“). When I called, the always congenial Troy Burtch, GLB’s resident social media dude and sales rep, said “Why don’t you come out and brew a collaborative beer with Lackey?” As you can imagine, my answer was something along the lines of “Fuck yes.”

And so on a rainy Friday last month, I got the opportunity to brew a beer with Mike Lackey, a guy who’s been making beer for over 20 years and who’s responsible for some of my favourite local options of the past little while. And when I say “brew a beer with” I mostly mean “added the stuff he told me to add then manned the brew kettle while he disappeared and reappeared sporadically to make sure I didn’t hurt myself/burn the place down.” Continue reading


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There is no beer for Valentine’s Day

Image

There is no “appropriate” beer for today.

In fact, you don’t have to shoehorn beer into every occasion and you don’t need to make beer relevant to whatever holiday/event/celebration might be occurring on any given day.

Perhaps today, on Valentine’s Day, that’s all the more clear.

Sorry, but beer and Valentine’s day don’t really go together; as much as a large swath of marketing people, beer writers, editors, brewers, etc. might want you to believe it.

Beer isn’t really romantic.

Beer is comforting, yes. Beer is delicious, obviously. Sharing a beer with a loved one can be a great experience. But beer sexy? No. Sorry, it’s just not.  Continue reading


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London is Getting a Microbrewery

Forked River

I resisted the urge to add an exclamation point to the title of this post; however, I can’t help but hum the tune to “Hallelujah” when I type the words.

You see, I’m from London and lived there for roughly 85% of my life and while London has always had a lot to offer, craft beer has not been one of those things.

Now, with the arrival of Forked River Brewing Company, that will change.

The recently announced craft brewery is the brainchild of David Reed, Andrew Peters, and Steve Nazarian–all London residents and University of Western Ontario graduates (Go Mustangs!). Reed is an engineer who worked a few years running an engineering department at a beverage R&D firm and has been brewing for ten years; Nazarian worked in the biotechnology sector, working in pharmaceutical manufacturing, drug safety testing, and quality control before getting the homebrewing bug in 2004; and Peters is also a microbiologist who got involved with homebrewing clubs in Ottawa and Toronto. Continue reading


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Beer and Star Wars: A Pairing Guide

Sadly, this doesn't actually exist.

Sadly, this doesn’t actually exist.

There’s always a temptation, when you love two things, to attempt to bring those two things together. Most of the time, as with wine and cheese, peanut butter and banana, or drinking gin and attending yard sales, the pairings complement each other; improving your experience of both things.

But if you’re not careful, as with my unfortunate attempt to combine roast beef sandwiches and hot tubs, things can go hideously wrong and end up permanently ruining your enjoyment of both things.

And so, when I recently finally acquired copies of the theatrical version of the original Star Wars trilogy, it was with trepidation that I attempted to find the right tasty, Canadian beer to enjoy while watching each of the films. I considered my choices carefully, and I think I came up with some successful combinations, and so I pass that wisdom on to you. Continue reading