Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


20 Comments

The 15 most important Ontario beers ever

Ontario’s beer scene is still very much in its infancy.

Accordingly, it’s a little tough to identify the beers that have been “game changers” here just yet.  The game, that is, is still very much changing.

That said, in our still-short evolution toward better beer, there have been a handful of beers that most certainly helped Ontario’s craft beer scene get to where it is today.

Here are my picks for what those beers are. These aren’t the best beers, nor are they my favourites, rather they are the beers that have helped transform Ontario’s getting-closer-to-world-class-every-day beer culture thus far.

Upper Canada Brewing Company’s Rebellion
I’m not sure this two-row pale ale made with Cascade and Cluster hops (when the fuck is the last time you heard of someone using cluster hops??) would float anyone’s boat these days, but back in tha day, this was the only Canadian Pale Ale listed in the 1998 World Beer Championships and it scored an 85. So it wasn’t something to sneeze at.

More importantly though, this is THE gateway beer. This beer actually opened the doors for craft beer in the province. For a generation, it was like, oh shit, there’s another kind of beer?

Jason Fisher is the owner of Toronto’s Indie Alehouse and he points to this beer as a gamechanger. “Upper Canada Rebellion (and even their Lager) was the first beer in Ontario made with an eye toward flavour as opposed to filling a place in the market,” he says. “They didn’t give a fuck what any marketing people said. They brewed what they wanted to and, for a time, it was great. They brought in fresh German hops to make beer with which, at the time, was unheard of in Ontario.”

*real talk: I was 17 when Sleeman took over Upper Canada, got rid of this beer, and fired three guys that would go on to build another brewery in Toronto, so I never actually drank this one. But I gotta show love to an OG craft beer. Continue reading


3 Comments

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Steam Whistle

20120618 - Steam Whistle tap.JPG

Arguably no beer is more implicitly associated with Toronto than Steam Whistle. Their easy-to-drink style and prominence in most bars in the city makes Steam Whistle a reliable go-to beer for a lot of beer-drinking Torontonians and the tourist-friendly location of their brewery means that Steam Whistle is a requisite stop for a lot of visiting Jays fans looking to get a bit of a buzz before surrendering to the $9-for-a-watery-macro-lager nonsense that is the Roger’s Centre. Like it or not when people think beer and Toronto, they most likely think Steam Whistle. But how much do you really know about Toronto’s biggest craft brewer?

Here are six things you probably didn’t know about that beer in the distinctive green bottle. Continue reading