Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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More details emerge about the LCBO’s growler program

LCBO Growlers

On Monday August 24th, the LCBO sent an email to some of Ontario’s craft brewers to invite them to submit products for the launch of their growler fill program that will start with their flagship Summerhill location.

Ben’s Beer Blog has obtained a copy of the email and it includes some details about the program that until now have been something of a mystery.

The email reveals that the space will include the LCBO’s first growler station as well as a craft beer tasting bar. Furthermore they are actively seeking beer that they don’t already have available for sale in packaged format (so we won’t see the Bud Zone Growler Station as some beer nerd grumbling posited).

The LCBO has indicated that their staff will dispense beer directly from kegs into the growler; however, it did not reveal if they would be investing in a proper growler filler or merely filling them from a draught tap (presumably–and hopefully–it’s the former given their investment in this). Continue reading


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The LCBO’s statement on imported beer freshness

LCBO

Depending on when you’re reading this, I am either just about to or just have published a brief post on blogTO about “The LCBO’s stale beer problem.”

For that post, I reached out to the LCBO for comment and though I included excerpts of their statement, the blogTO article was limited in terms of column inches and the statement couldn’t be included in its entirety.

Given that we beer folks so often lament the LCBO’s efforts on keeping their imported beer fresh, I thought it was worth publishing the statement in toto.

To my mind, it seems like we’re maybe giving them a bit of a bum rap. It looks like they’re making solid efforts to handle a situation that is presumably pretty big considering the size and scope of the LCBO’s import alcohol business.

What do you think? Continue reading


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The Toronto Distillery Co. is taking legal action against the LCBO

Toronto Distillery Company

The Toronto Distillery Co., a local maker of organic spirits, is in a fight with the LCBO about unpaid fees that could threaten the company’s existence.

The company is taking legal action against the LCBO because they say the LCBO is unfairly requiring them to pay taxes on booze they sell directly from their distillery; a tax that they say is “inconsistent with Canada’s constitution.”

Their argument stems from the Constitution Act of 1867 which states that all taxes in this country need to be legislated. That is, they need to be presented in the house (federal or provincial) and then voted on. As such, the Toronto Distillery Co. claims that current fees for onsite stores that are imposed on distilleries and created by the Ministry of Finance (and not voted on), are not consistent with this law.

The current fees related to booze sold onsite, The Toronto Distillery Co. alleges, are based on the same mark-up the LCBO uses on the booze they sell in their actual stores. That is to say, if a distillery opts to sell liquor from their own premises, they are forced to mark up their prices 140% and pay the LCBO a hefty fee. Continue reading


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Let’s talk about growlers

Growler

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


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The Ontario Pale Ale and why I hate it

Amber

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


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The Ontario Craft Brewers would like their own stores, please

FullSizeRender

“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


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What the hell is Crazy Beard?

crazy beard

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.

crazy beard 2

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