Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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Never mind Oktoberfest, here’s Craftoberfest

When I was in university, I travelled to Kitchener to attend the annual Oktoberfest event there, and it was nothing short of terrible.

The pilgrimage to the K-W included sleeping on the floor of a frat boy friend of a friend and it coincided with a lamentable period of my youth that all men seem to go through where we find it humourous to hit each other as hard as possible in the balls. While my group of friends always had a gentleman’s rule that these shots were permissible only when administered open-handed, the agreement was not enough to prevent my two best friends from nearly fighting each other in the middle of a polka-filled hall of dirndl- and lederhosen-bedecked revellers that evening.

Accordingly, I will likely forever associate my experience at Oktoberfest with a terrible night of drinking and the anxiety of perpetually fearing blunt force trauma to my penis and testicles. And while the organizers aren’t responsible for me associating Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest with being hit in the balls, it seems to me an apt metaphor for the annual event. Continue reading


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Haiku reviews: Sawdust City’s Limberlost Farmhouse Ale

Haiku reviews is a new feature wherein I invoke the brief and impressionistic style of poetry to devote exactly 17 syllables to reviewing a beer.

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Sawdust City’s Limberlost Farmhouse Ale
barrel-aged gold smell
dry, yeasty, spice-forest vibes
deep, pure, musty lakes

What they have to say: “Named for the local Muskokan forest where our brew team captured the unique wild yeast strain we used to ferment this natural beauty, Limberlost farmhouse ale will be hitting our shelves Thursday, April 28th. Stay tuned for more of the story of our most original brew to date!”

Where you can get it: Limberlost will be available at the Sawdust City retail store in Gravenhurst and on tap in select bars and restaurants.

Want to send me a beer for the haiku review treatment? Drop me a line


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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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Let’s talk about beer awards

Beer Award

Beer awards are kind of bullshit.

They don’t really denote an absolute degree of quality or a level of excellence above all others in the field or category.

What beer awards often actually denote is simply a willingness on the part of a brewery to meet the demands of individual award ceremonies’ rules and style guidelines. That is, maybe a winning beer best met a certain judge’s understanding of the BJCP definition of a certain style or the beer adheres to the individual awards’ strict and often archaic style guidelines, but does that make the beer the “best” example of its kind?

According to the judges who blind-taste-judged the Ontario Brewing Awards, for example, Triple Bogey Brewing Co. brewed the “best” North American Lager in the province last year. But what does that even mean? Taste is subjective, right? You, for example, may prefer the taste of Great Lakes Brewery’s Golden Horseshoe Premium Lager. Who can say how or why those two lagers are different and what makes one better? 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