With the recent news that changes to Ontario’s liquor laws could mean the LCBO will start to carry and fill growlers, it’s probably a good time to ask some questions about this development.
Namely, does anyone really give a shit?
The benefits and pitfalls of recent proposed changes to Ontario’s liquor laws, specifically as they relate to beer, have been debated fairly extensively as of late, and probably will be until the changes actually come into effect some time in the 3rd millennium, but not much has been made of the odd little item about growlers, and so it’s worth considering whether or not the potential “mainstreaming” of those fun little jugs is a good thing.
But before we get there, let’s cover some basics for the uninitiated. Continue reading “Let’s talk about growlers” →
In case you’re new to my blog, you should know: I love Ontario beer. I also love pale ales. And yet, I hate the Ontario pale ale.
To be clear, “Ontario pale ale” isn’t actually a style in the strict BJCP sense of the word, but rather a term I use to classify a rather distinct subset of beer made in this province that goes by all manner of name from IPA to American Pale Ale, to Pale Ale and more. And, truth be told, it isn’t even a particulary bad kind of beer.
But still, I hate it. Continue reading “The Ontario Pale Ale and why I hate it” →
“Though this be madness,
yet there is method in’t”
Last night I attended the 10th annual Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) tasting event at the Ontario legislature.
It’s an event hosted by the Speaker of The House wherein the OCB, a 50+ member group that is currently the only organization advocating on behalf of the province’s small brewers, is welcomed into the Ontario Legislative Building to pour their beers for myriad MPPs and (mostly) their thirsty, bespectacled, pointy-shoed staffers.
I have attended in previous years and wrote about last year’s event in less than flattering terms as a missed opportunity in my opinion given a climate in Ontario that seemed destined for real change to the beer scene.
This year, even more than last, the event seemed rife with potential for some grand statement: the premier of Ontario has made a few opening but vague salvos relating to reforming the province’s beer scene and speculation grows about what might be in the upcoming budget for people who buy and make craft beer–including rumours recently reported by The Toronto Star’s Martin Regg Cohn that we can expect beer in grocery stores soon.
This year, I thought, someone might say something bold that electrifies the crowd.
And I was right.
Sort of. Continue reading “The Ontario Craft Brewers would like their own stores, please” →
You may have seen the above-pictured monstrosity on the shelves along with the cider in your local LCBO lately.
It’s “Wild Apple Ale” from Crazy Beard and even though the product is called Crazy Beard “Wild Apple Ale” it lives in the cider section since it isn’t actually a beer. I’m not even sure it would meet strict definitions of cider, but presumably the company is so “Wild to the Core!” they just don’t care about conventional things like “accurately labeling a beverage.”
I have seen the atrocious can on shelves before and while it offended me in a way that only a snotty beer and beverage purist can be offended, I put it off as simply something that doesn’t interest me. Life is too short to rage at all the overly-sweet alcoholic beverages that don’t meet with my approval. However, as it turns out, in addition to the label being questionable from a design standpoint, it seems the can wrap isn’t really the highest quality material either. I was alerted to this fact by an intrepid reader who sent me the picture below this afternoon.
Yes, it appears that Crazy Beard Wild Apple Ale’s label is hiding something of a surprise under all that wacky design. As my anonymous tipster speculated, this “Apple Ale” might actually just be William Premium Canadian Cider–or at the very least, is sold in William Cider cans. Continue reading “What the hell is Crazy Beard?” →
Innovative Scottish brewery, Brew Dog, who have become famous across the pond as much for their beer as for their antics–having participated in the race to make the world’s strongest beer, winning that race by brewing a 55% beer that they packaged in road kill, made a beer at the bottom of the ocean, projected themselves naked onto the British Houses of parliament, sold shares of their company online to over 14,000 “shareholders” and, in just a few short years have become Scotland’s largest independent brewery–have announced their next adventure: they’re coming to Ontario.
I spoke to Stefan Milo Cornish of Premier Brands, the agency representing Brew Dog, who confirmed the rumours about which Ontario beer nerds have been speculating. Draught offerings of a handful of Brew Dog beers will be available here as early as next week. Continue reading “Scotland’s Brew Dog is coming to Ontario” →
There is exciting news for Ontario’s pale ale fans: Chico California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Pale Ale will soon be available on tap in Ontario bars and sometime a little after that, on store shelves in your LCBO.
This weekend, I spoke with Andrew von Teichman, the president of Von Terra Enterprises Ltd, the agency responsible for bringing Sierra Nevada to Ontario, and von Teichman confirmed rumblings you may or may not have heard at Cask Days when that event’s organizers brought Sierra Nevada to Toronto along with a handful of other California beers for the event.
Von Teichman confirmed that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale will be available on tap in Ontario in February and that an LCBO launch will likely follow in March. The beer will launch exclusively on draught at all six Bier Markt locations on February 9th and then will roll out to other accounts in March. No other accounts are confirmed yet, but von Teichman tells me that they’ve talked to a number of restaurants and bars and, not surprisingly, they’ve basically just said ‘let us know when and we’re all over it.’ Continue reading “Sierra Nevada is coming to Ontario” →
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 “Documentary on Ontario’s alcohol laws will stream online” →
(Image: Sina Gorge)
Frequently, when I write articles about the province’s retail alcohol industry (i.e. my slew of recent Beer Store rants), I receive supportive comments in response along the lines of “Hear, hear! The Beer Store and the LCBO need to go!” or “Yes! The time for TBS and LCBO is over,” and while I appreciate your support, I encourage you to read my articles in a little more detail, please.
I never said I wanted to dismantle or sell the LCBO and I think it would be insane to lobby for such a change.
In fact, I love the LCBO.
It’s probably one of my favourite stores and rivals only bookstores for its ability to consume far more of my time and money than I anticipated every time I walk into one. And, while I share some of your concerns related to the way the LCBO conducts its business, if you’re lobbying to get rid of the LCBO, you need to give your fucking head a shake. Continue reading “It’s OK to love the LCBO” →
Good news for fans of Toronto’s own easy-drinking Kölsch: Cans of Hogtown Ale will soon be coming to the LCBO.
Yesterday the guys from Hogtown hosted a little shindig at the Duke of Devon to celebrate their first anniversary and to announce the arrival of their beer in cans. They also just received their LCBO product number, which means you could see their cans on store shelves very, very soon.
Incidentally, the Duke of Devon–the watering hole of choice for the company’s proprietors–was the first place to pour Hogtown Ale, so it’s good to see the lads have stayed loyal (also incidentally, the original Duke of Devon launch of Hogtown Ale was the first story I ever wrote for blogTO way back in January 2012–and yes, that makes the “first anniversary” math a bit hazy here so let’s not dwell on it). Continue reading “Hogtown Ale Cans Are Coming to LCBOsHo” →
As we rapidly approach the long weekend that unofficially marks the start of summer here in Canada and one that quasi-officially requires that we drink beer in order to celebrate it, we are also faced with the looming threat of an LCBO strike.
As has been repeated in the media ad nauseum as of late, the LCBO is urging us to “stock up” now lest we be caught without any other options for booze this weekend.
I’m growing fairly tired of this refrain for a couple reasons. First, I’m inherently suspicious of any solution being offered by an organization that stands to profit massively from said solution. Perhaps they really are just being nice, but hearing the LCBO say “You better come spend a lot of money at our stores ASAP!” really turns me off actually doing it and, given my tendency to leap to unlikely conspiracy theories, is almost enough to make me think that maybe the whole strike is just a massive, brilliant marketing campaign to get us all hoarding booze (Whether or not the ghost of Elvis is involved remains to be seen). Continue reading “Never mind the LCBO strike, here’s the local brewers” →