Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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Let’s talk about Untappd

Untappd irritates me.

Sure, there was a time in my life, as there is in most budding beer nerds’ lives, when I wholly embraced all that Untappd had to offer. A crowdsourced collection of tasting notes at my finger tips, a way to track beers that I tried, and even a built in humble-brag system that lets me not only tell people what cool beer I was drinking in a cool bar but also alert all my social media followers that I’ve just earned a badge for surpassing a benchmark like 25 IPAs consumed in one month. It was fun. It was engaging. It was well designed.

But now I think it might be one of the worst things to happen to beer drinking since Adolphus Busch decided he wanted to shag Lilly Anheuser.

Here’s how I came to this conclusion. First, on crowdsourcing tasting notes: I’ve realized I don’t actually care what most people think about a given beer. On the one hand, Untappd is great in that it democratically allows everyone to provide feedback about a beer, and yeah! power to the people.  But on the other hand, who cares about people? Untappd makes every neckbeard with a smartphone think he or she is Michael fucking Jackson. Do I really give a shit that “Jeff T.” thinks Bellwoods Brewery’s Farmhouse Classic “has a weird tangyness” or that “Kyle M.” thinks Instigator IPA from Indie Alehouse is “Really good”? No. No I do not. Untappd is the Yelp of beer, but lazier. If I’m looking for a good restaurant, I don’t want to know that John from Schenectedy gave it one star because he was seated under a drafty vent, I want to know what an actual fucking restaurant critic has to say.

Beer is the same way, and I’m sorry for being snobby here, but most people don’t know a cream ale from a California common, so why the fuck would we want an app that lets all of the people drinking beer (all of them!) share their opinions directly with the world? Continue reading


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Beer art spotlight: Sawdust City’s Spooky Action

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If I had a dollar for every time a brewery released a beer that was implicitly tied to profound questions about the fundamental theory of quantum mechanics, the TV show The Flash, and a man’s love for his English bulldog, I would finally have my first dollar.

That’s because Sawdust City has released Spooky Action, a spiced barrel-aged imperial stout and the fourth installment in the brewery’s Winewood Series.

The idea for the above-pictured label image, which may now be one of my favourite beer labels, started when Sawdust City brewmaster Sam Corbeil was watching The Flash and a particular episode mentioned “Spooky Action,” referenced off-hand to describe how two characters had become “quantumly entangled” and ultimately became one person.  Corbeil wasn’t entirely sure the science reference was legit, but he liked the name for a beer. So he did some googling.  Continue reading


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Sam Corbeil: The Proost Questionnaire

The Proust Questionnaire is a famous questionnaire about one’s personality. Its name and modern popularity as a form of interview is owed to the responses once given by the French writer Marcel Proust. Ben’s Beer Blog has co-opted this format in order to provide a revealing look at people making beer and working in the beer industry in Ontario. As such, I’ve renamed it The Proost Questionnaire, since “proost” is the Dutch word for cheers. Clever right?

Sam Corbeil, brewmaster at Sawdust City in Gravenhurst, waxes philosophical about the fundamental states of brain matter, not smiling, and honesty when drinking.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Not sure. Haven’t been there yet. Still looking. But I guess that’s kinda the point.

What is your greatest fear?

Not getting the most out of my life as I can.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Not dying. Yet.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Shyness.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Hatred or Anger.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I waste a lot of water in my job. Water is pretty important.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Temperance I guess. I’ve been known to overindulge…on occasion.

On what occasion do you lie?

Usually on those occasions in which I’ve over indulged. Continue reading


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A first look at Sawdust City’s new brewery

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“If I have to answer another fucking email from people asking when we open.”

It’s early on a rainy Tuesday morning in Gravenhurst, Ontario and Sam Corbeil, Brewmaster at Sawdust City, is half-joking about what he admits is a pretty good problem to have: Future customers are eagerly anticipating the opening of his brewery and continue to contact him to find out when they can buy his wares. “I’ve already got two emails today and it’s not even noon,” he says, laughing. Continue reading