Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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Silver Stacks Brewery and new adventure park announced for East London development

London’s east end is having something of a moment.

No longer associated derogatorily with being East of Adelaide (or EOA if you’re in the know) the east end is now home to what is arguably becoming London’s most vibrant neighbourhood, the Old East Village (aka OEV if you’re into the whole acronym thing).

An area that’s—let’s be honest—still a bit sketchy in some places, OEV is a pocket of affordable real estate that has, as of late, become something of a hot bed for interesting and independent  entrepreneurs (if you’re a Toronto reader, think The Junction, just with out all the stuff yet).

Aided by awesome spots for a coffee like 10Eighteen Coffee Bar (because everything starts with coffee), a seriously decent cheese store in All ‘Bout Cheese, and the mandatory weekly Farmer’s Market at the Western Fair Grounds, OEV is threatening to become an honest-to-goodness hipster hotspot. There’s even Urban Oven, a place to get gluten free bread to make your own bread at home, and the obligatory over-priced clothing store tucked in among a few vintage shops.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the area also has beer. Continue reading


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Anderson Craft Ales delivering good things in small packages

I love beer in 355mL cans.

Unfortunately, here in Ontario, the government-run LCBO (one of only a few places brewers can actually sell beer) prefers to stock 473mL beer cans. Additionally, given that 473mL cans cost about as much as 355mL cans, economies of scale mean that it’s more cost effective to sell beer in tall boys (i.e. you can buy less of them to package more of your beer). What this means is that the smaller 355mL format is fairly unpopular among craft brewers in the province.

This scarcity, paired with some nostalgia for the days before I drank good beer, is probably what drives my love for the little guys but, whatever the reason, I’ve been waiting patiently for a local craft brewer to put a good beer in the coveted wee cans.

That day has arrived.

And, as luck would have it, the brewery that opted to do so has just opened roughly five minutes from my house.

London, Ontario’s Anderson Craft Ales officially opened their doors on August 6th 2016. Continue reading


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Toboggan Brewing Co: Mr. Smith’s Interesting Experiment

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If you spent any of your twenties (or earlier) in the city of London, Ontario, it’s pretty likely that you had at least an evening or two at Jim Bob Ray’s, a bar that has long been a staple of The Forest City’s student nightlife scene.

Indeed, if you went to the University of Western Ontario (I will not indulge my alma mater’s rebrand as *shudder* “Western”), your feelings about Jim Bob’s arguably shaped your approach to London’s nightlife. It was either “We’re going to fucking Jim Bob’s?” *groan* or “We’re going to fucking Jim Bob’s!” *fist pump, shotgun a beer*

Now, however, regardless of how you may feel about the (in)famous spot at 585 Richmond Street, the days of Jim Bob’s reputation as the quintessential London university drinking experience are numbered: Very soon the place will cease being “Jim Bob Ray’s” and will become Toboggan Brewing Co.

Opened in October of 1993 by Mike Smith, a longtime veteran of London’s bar and restaurant scene,  Jim Bob’s has actually already begun its slow makeover to a craft brew pub. Full disclosure: Mr. Smith is a longtime friend of my family’s. Mike spent Christmas eves at my house when I was a kid, my dad actually “worked” at an establishment he owns as something of a post-retirement lark, and a picture of me at age 12 is even hanging among the many that adorn the walls of one of his bars, the London institution, Joe Kool’s.

Personal connection aside, I find Smith’s plan to turn Jim Bob’s into a brewery fascinating for a number of reasons; not the least of which is that I think the success or failure of the move will serve as a perfect litmus test for the current state of Ontario’s craft beer scene. Continue reading


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Forked River Brewing Company: So how’s the beer?

Forked River Bottle

Last weekend I made the pilgrimage back to my hometown of London Ontario for the obligatory feasting we all indulge in for the simple reason that the weekend marks the return of everyone’s favourite Jewish zombie carpenter.

And while I was excited to get together with old friends and family and to eat ham in honour of JC’s big comeback, I was also excited to try some new beer, namely that brewed by London’s first craft brewery to appear in as long as I have been alive, Forked River Brewing. Continue reading


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London is Getting a Microbrewery

Forked River

I resisted the urge to add an exclamation point to the title of this post; however, I can’t help but hum the tune to “Hallelujah” when I type the words.

You see, I’m from London and lived there for roughly 85% of my life and while London has always had a lot to offer, craft beer has not been one of those things.

Now, with the arrival of Forked River Brewing Company, that will change.

The recently announced craft brewery is the brainchild of David Reed, Andrew Peters, and Steve Nazarian–all London residents and University of Western Ontario graduates (Go Mustangs!). Reed is an engineer who worked a few years running an engineering department at a beverage R&D firm and has been brewing for ten years; Nazarian worked in the biotechnology sector, working in pharmaceutical manufacturing, drug safety testing, and quality control before getting the homebrewing bug in 2004; and Peters is also a microbiologist who got involved with homebrewing clubs in Ottawa and Toronto. Continue reading