Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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Five more points about contract brewing

Last week, I wrote a piece for  the Globe and Mail about contract brewing, the practice wherein brewing companies or virtual breweries rent space from larger facilities to make their beer.

Given the constraints of the 800 words I was alotted, there was much I did not have time to dig in on and so the final piece was something of an overview of the practice, with some brief discussion of why it might be growing in popularity–especially in Ontario–with some insight from a business owner, Shehan De Silva of Lost Craft Beer, who has had success with this model, and from a bricks and mortar brewery owner, Jason Fisher of the Indie Ale House, who is generally opposed to this model for what he feels it brings (or doesn’t) to the industry as a whole.

The article was intentionally targeted at the Globe and Mail’s “general audience” and so much of the beer geekery I might have dug in on was omitted. Accordingly the responses from beer industry folks on twitter, Facebook, and my email were passionate and varied. Interestingly, the article seemed to simply confirm everyone’s beliefs no matter which side of the argument you might be on. Both virtual brewers and bricks and mortar brewers have reached out to me in the interim to say I had represented their side well (Not to toot my own horn, but beep fucking beep).

Also of interest, one owner of a contract brewing facility says he was subsequently inundated with calls from interested new brewing companies. Er, sorry / you’re welcome, Ontario?

Anyway, here are some mostly random tidbits I had hoped to include but couldn’t. Continue reading


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Ontario is getting tanked

Left Field Brewery New Tank

Apparently there was a sale on brewing equipment this month.

That seems to be the most valid explanation for the fact that a handful of Ontario breweries all opted to up their capacity and production capabilities this past couple weeks by adding a considerable amount of volume to their respective brewing operations.

Toronto’s Muddy York Brewing upped their capacity by 33% this week when they got in three new 7bbl (10hL) jacketed fermenters. Owner Jeff Manol tells me that this will give him the ability to lager things a bit more and do some bigger beers that can age (yay and yay). He hopes to have the new tanks in once they repaint their floors and finish the new glycol lines, and after that he says the company is set to build their taproom bar and hopefully have a tasting room open by June at the latest. Nice.

Left Field Brewery, also in Toronto, celebrated a fourth anniversary this month by not only coming to visit me (and other people) in London for an 11-tap takeover at Pub Milos, they also put in three 40bbl (40!)  fermenters and a 40bbl brite tank–upping their game from five fermenters and one brite. NICE. Continue reading


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Contest: Win two tickets to The Craftmas Beer Experience

You checked our shitters, honey?

CONTEST CLOSED: 

Congratulations to Phil for his winning comment and xmas movie and beer pairing:

Die Hard paired with Maclean’s Pale Ale because Yippy Ki Ay Mother Fucker!

Call me a sentimental son of a bitch but a comment that references my favourite Christmas movie, names an Ontario craft beer, and drops an eff bomb seems to me like what the holidays are all about. Congrats, Phil! Enjoy the Craftmas Beer Experience.

This holiday season, the folks who have brought The Beer Experience to Berkeley Church for the last two years as part of Toronto Beer Week are getting into the festive spirit.

The innaugural, aptly (if awkwardly) named winter equivalent, Craftmas Beer Experience, promises much of the same elements that have made The Beer Experience a success the past couple of years–and Ben’s Beer Blog wants to send you and a friend to the event to check it out.

Happening at District 28 near Toronto’s Port Lands on Thursday December 4th, The Craftmas Beer Experiences promises unique and festive beers from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co, Black Oak Brewing, Cameron’s, Creemore Springs, Great Lakes Brewery, Junction Craft Brewing, Kensington Brewing Company, Mill Street, and Wellington, among others. There will also be food provided by Matt Basile’s Lisa Marie Food Truck.

Tickets, which include five drink tokens, can be purchased in advance for $25 each, but for one lucky Ben’s Beer Blog reader Christmas is comin’ early, because we’re giving away two tickets! Ho, ho, effing ho.

In the spirit of the season, to enter, simply leave a comment here letting me know your favourite Christmas movie, the perfect beer to pair with it, and why.

On Monday December 1st, the contest closes and I’ll pick the best/most entertaining entry to receive two free tickets. Preference may or may not be given to people who spread word of this contest via twitter.

(Use your real email address when you comment so that I know how to contact you)


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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


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Kensington Brewing Company’s Tilt: So how’s the beer?

The picture is tilted. Get it?

The picture is tilted. Get it?

First, it should be noted that when I heard the Kensington Brewing Company was going to be doing a hoppy wheat beer, it wasn’t a tough sell for me. It’s a style I’ve become just short of obsessed with this summer so, when I received a press release announcing the beer, a 4.4% hoppy wheat beer one-off, I’m not even sure I finished reading the email before I responded with something akin to “Me want.”

Luckily for me, the folks at KBCo were happy to oblige and a short while later a friendly gent on a scooter came to greet me with a sample ahead of the beer’s slated Toronto Beer Week release at Toronto bars 3030, Get Well, and “other participating pinball bars in Toronto.” Continue reading


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‘Tis A Fine Time for Eatin’ and Drinkin’ Outdoors

Because I have a super busy Sunday planned already,  there are, of course, two pretty sweet food and beer events happening that day that I can’t attend.

While I’m watching some talented actors perform scenes written by me and my Second City writing class in the unfortunately titled graduation show, Fifty Shades of Gay (no, really, that’s the name of our comedy show), there will be not one but two great eating and drinking opportunities happening elsewhere–one just a few scant blocks from my home.

The first is Lobstah Palooza, which I’m assuming is misspelled so as to sound the way the east-coast lobsters you’ll be boiling alive and eating might say the word if they had the ability to speak. Cute!

Hosted by Rock Lobster‘s Matt Dean Pettit and Food Network Star Kevin Brauch (aka The Thirsty Traveller) the food is pretty much guaranteed to be good. In  addition to corn on the cob and other summer fare, there’s lobster salad, and, naturally, the price of your ticket gets you a 1.5 pound lobster. What you name it is entirely up to you, but I think “Ben” has a lovely ring to it since I scooped you to this bitchin’ good time. Continue reading