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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The Ontario Craft Beer Guide is for geeks

Despite what virtually all of the Ontario breweries, beer writers, and various beer-scene hangers-on that I happen to follow on social media have been telling me for the last week or so, Jordan St. John and Robin LeBlanc have not written a beer book.

I mean, technically, of course, they did “write a book,” the soon to be released Ontario Craft Beer Guide, but what the authors–one a former nationally syndicated beer columnist and the other the current beer columnist for Torontoist, both of them prolific bloggers–have actually written is a unique and thorough snapshot of the beer industry in a region that is on the cusp of a very large boom.

Craft-beer sales in Ontario rose a whopping 26.6 per cent between 2013 and 2014 according to the last available data from the LCBO and, according to the Ontario Craft Brewers, their share of beer sales has increased nearly 220 per cent since 2010. “Craft” is by far the fastest-growing segment of beer in the Ontario market. The Ontario Beverage Network formerly known as Mom n Hops has 300 breweries on its list of beer-making-operations that are either currently open in the province or are in the planning phase, and that number is up from just 100 three years ago. To put it bluntly then, craft beer in Ontario is going fucking gangbusters.  And so it’s an extremely interesting time for the arrival of The Ontario Craft Beer Guide which, in effect, will serve as an excellent and ridiculously detailed archive of Ontario craft beer essentially right as it’s coming into its own. Continue reading


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Documentary on Ontario’s alcohol laws will stream online

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As has been posited by fellow beer scribe Jordan St. John, it once seemed like roughly every six months we were inundated with a slew of articles about the makes-you-want-to-smash-your-head-through-drywall-it’s-so-frustrating world of beverage alcohol in Ontario.

Six months seemed to be roughly the amount of time it would take people to forget that one company was allowed to have 440 retail beer stores in this province while the people who actually make beer in Ontario were still only legally allowed to have one. And so this was the amount of time that would pass before some article would pop up, cause some outrage, make the rounds on social media, then quietly die with nothing ever coming of it. Some beer writers may have even used this cyclical outrage to build a reputation as something of a shit disturber. Ahem. Continue reading