Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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The 15 most important Ontario beers ever

Ontario’s beer scene is still very much in its infancy.

Accordingly, it’s a little tough to identify the beers that have been “game changers” here just yet.  The game, that is, is still very much changing.

That said, in our still-short evolution toward better beer, there have been a handful of beers that most certainly helped Ontario’s craft beer scene get to where it is today.

Here are my picks for what those beers are. These aren’t the best beers, nor are they my favourites, rather they are the beers that have helped transform Ontario’s getting-closer-to-world-class-every-day beer culture thus far.

Upper Canada Brewing Company’s Rebellion
I’m not sure this two-row pale ale made with Cascade and Cluster hops (when the fuck is the last time you heard of someone using cluster hops??) would float anyone’s boat these days, but back in tha day, this was the only Canadian Pale Ale listed in the 1998 World Beer Championships and it scored an 85. So it wasn’t something to sneeze at.

More importantly though, this is THE gateway beer. This beer actually opened the doors for craft beer in the province. For a generation, it was like, oh shit, there’s another kind of beer?

Jason Fisher is the owner of Toronto’s Indie Alehouse and he points to this beer as a gamechanger. “Upper Canada Rebellion (and even their Lager) was the first beer in Ontario made with an eye toward flavour as opposed to filling a place in the market,” he says. “They didn’t give a fuck what any marketing people said. They brewed what they wanted to and, for a time, it was great. They brought in fresh German hops to make beer with which, at the time, was unheard of in Ontario.”

*real talk: I was 17 when Sleeman took over Upper Canada, got rid of this beer, and fired three guys that would go on to build another brewery in Toronto, so I never actually drank this one. But I gotta show love to an OG craft beer. Continue reading


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Let’s talk about contract brewing

Cool Expansion Before

It’s that time of year when everyone begins to trot out their end-of-year reviews and we look back on the year that was in beer.

And as we beer writers all surf through our own stories from the previous year in an effort to slap together an SEO-friendly list of happenings we’ve already written about, I feel like there is one item of significance that will get overlooked in a lot of people’s round-ups. It’s the fact that Cool Brewery in Etobicoke is currently wrapping up renovations that will see their space increased by 20%–renovations that have added  four new 330-hectolitre fermentation tanks, vastly increasing their production capabilities.

As they themselves noted in a recent edition of their newsletter, COOL NATION NEWS! each of these tanks will hold the equivalent of 96,800 bottles of beer.

As you probably know, it’s unlikely that those bottles will all be filled with Cool Brewing’s own brands of beer, Cool Lager, Buzz Hemp Beer, and Stonewall Light. Instead, it’s far more likely that the space will be dedicated to Cool’s other, increasingly lucrative business; namely, renting out their space to contract brewers. Continue reading