Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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The curious case of Von Bugle Brewing

I really like Steam Whistle.

I have for as long as I can remember. They make an excellent Czech-style pilsner and, provided you’re having it fresh and not from a green bottle that’s been exposed to the sun, it’s about as reliable a beer as you’ll find in any pub in Ontario, if not Canada. That’s, of course, largely because they make an effort to maintain all the draught lines pouring their beer and they’ve invested in a lot of expensive technology to ensure that the beer that gets to your mouth is always fresh as possible. 

Of course Steam Whistle, for some reason, has its haters. It’s a big company and has a pretty heavy-handed marketing presence and that isn’t always a turn-on for the die-hard craft beer fans. For my money though, Steam Whistle is also owed a pretty large debt of gratitude by this province’s craft brewers and craft beer drinkers for being among the brewing pioneers that broke down a lot of the early barriers to independent craft beer production and sales in Ontario. They fought a lot of fights so that brewers who came after them didn’t have to, and any one who chooses not to drink their beer because “the company is too big,” or some iteration on the theme of them being “too corporate” is, in my opinion, being ignorant of the Toronto brewery’s history and importance to the scene. 

Steam Whistle cares a lot about making good beer and they seem to care about the state of craft beer in Canada. 

And that’s why I really can’t figure out what the fuck they’re up to with their latest move.  Continue reading


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What to expect from Ontario beer in 2018

Because it’s that time of year, here are the things that I think are going to shape the conversation as it relates to beer, especially in Ontario, in 2018.

Weed
When it comes to the craft beer industry, it seems kind of crazy to me how little attention is being paid to the legalization of marijuana in Canada. To my mind it is impossible to suggest that the destiny of any meaningful changes to our beverage alcohol sector won’t now be intrinsically tied to all things pot.

Government resources are right now being dedicated to drafting new legislation, debating policies, and creating laws that will govern how each province will handle the prospect of legal weed. And if you’re a pot fan or a policy wonk, these are exciting times, but if you had any hope that you might see meaningful changes to your respective province’s liquor laws anytime soon, I’ve got some bad news for you: Much of the resources and political capital that would be needed for progress in the world of beer are going to be focused squarely on sticky-icky for a while. Continue reading


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‘Tis A Fine Time for Eatin’ and Drinkin’ Outdoors

Because I have a super busy Sunday planned already,  there are, of course, two pretty sweet food and beer events happening that day that I can’t attend.

While I’m watching some talented actors perform scenes written by me and my Second City writing class in the unfortunately titled graduation show, Fifty Shades of Gay (no, really, that’s the name of our comedy show), there will be not one but two great eating and drinking opportunities happening elsewhere–one just a few scant blocks from my home.

The first is Lobstah Palooza, which I’m assuming is misspelled so as to sound the way the east-coast lobsters you’ll be boiling alive and eating might say the word if they had the ability to speak. Cute!

Hosted by Rock Lobster‘s Matt Dean Pettit and Food Network Star Kevin Brauch (aka The Thirsty Traveller) the food is pretty much guaranteed to be good. In  addition to corn on the cob and other summer fare, there’s lobster salad, and, naturally, the price of your ticket gets you a 1.5 pound lobster. What you name it is entirely up to you, but I think “Ben” has a lovely ring to it since I scooped you to this bitchin’ good time. Continue reading


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Danforth Shmanforth: To the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival!

Unless you live in a cave, you’re probably aware that this weekend is the annual tribute to most things Greek of the Danforth (think more souvlaki and Greek music, less economic collapse and political turmoil).

In fact, this weekend is the 19th annual Taste of The Danforth,  Canada’s largest street festival, which, according to their website, welcomes over 1.3 million visitors (I’m assuming that’s cumulative…).

And while I’m a big fan of gyros, the odd bottle of Mythos, and the Taste of The Danforth generally, this year I think I’ll skip it.

Instead, I’m heading to the first annual Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival, taking place, appropriately enough, at Roundhouse Park. Continue reading