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Eat & Drink

5 places to buy booze in Toronto that aren't the LCBO

Posted by Derek Flack / May 14, 2013

Bellwoods BreweryWith an LCBO strike looming before the Victoria Day long weekend, there's never been a better time to offer a reminder that there are plenty of other places to acquire booze in Toronto. Most obviously there's the Beer Store (which would remain open in the event of an LCBO strike), but if you're not a fan of that organization (and why would you be?) or you have your heart set on wine or craft beer, you have options — and more than you might think.

Toronto Breweries
While we might not be blessed with a huge number of local craft breweries, the number of Toronto brewing operations is on the rise in a major way. In addition to longstanding options like Amsterdam and Great Lakes Brewery, recent outfits like Bellwoods Brewery, Junction Craft Brewing, and the Indie Ale House ensure that we need not depend on the LCBO or the Beer Store for our lager, etc. Check out the link above for a longer list of local options.

Ontario Wine Shops
Between the Wine Rack, The Wine Shop (formerly Vineyard Estates) and Magnotta stores, there's plenty of places to get your wine fix without hitting up the LCBO. Sure, the variety tends to leave something to be desired, but it's not all plonk (I popped a Wine-rack purchased bottle of Le Clos Jordanne the other day), so they'll certainly work in a pinch. As a bonus, many of the downtown locations of these shops keep longer hours than the LCBO anyway.

Still Waters Distillery
OK, so you're more of the whisky type. In the past you would have been SOL in the event of an LCBO work stoppage, but now we have an excellent distillery located immediately north of the city in Concord. No, it's not technically Toronto, but the product is worth the short trek anyway. Also worthy of note, if not for right now, the recently opened Toronto Distillery Company will be selling its "new make" as of June. The whisky won't come for another few years as per Ontario laws, but there's something novel about indulging in what is ostensibly expertly crafted moonshine.

The Ontario Spring Water Sake Company
The LCBO hasn't exactly shown a whole lot of love for sake (and in particular unpasteurized sake), so whether there's a strike or not, it's worth a trip down to the Distillery District to learn a little about the brewing process and to pick up some of the good stuff (hint: it's better than what you've had at an AYCE sushi joint).

Online Wine Retailers
Given the shipping times involved and on account of the fact that these retailers still have to deal with the LCBO warehouses, online retailers won't offer much salvation for those who've left it to the last minute or in the event of a long strike. But if you're interested in by-passing the LCBO and trying out interesting wines not found elsewhere in the province, have a look at Wine Online. If Ontario offerings are more your thing but you don't get out to wine country a whole lot, both WineryToHome and Wine Splash are worth checking out.

Got a source for booze to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.



David / May 14, 2013 at 03:56 pm
Why is there no mention of the Amsterdam Brewery?
Krissy / May 14, 2013 at 04:00 pm
They are mentioned in the first section under Toronto Breweries.
Derek replying to a comment from David / May 14, 2013 at 04:03 pm
There is — under the Toronto breweries writeup. If you follow the link there's more information.
Steam Whistle / May 14, 2013 at 04:07 pm
Steam Whistle is also open :)
TO Gal / May 14, 2013 at 04:14 pm
Don't forget about Black Oak! Mmmm...
jon / May 14, 2013 at 04:19 pm
Before everyone starts rhyming off spots they think were missed click on the link for the actual write up of each section. Most of them are there...
Eryn / May 14, 2013 at 04:27 pm
Yay! Great Lakes Brewery was just named the Canadian Brewery of the Year! Awesome beers there.
O) / May 14, 2013 at 04:30 pm
I'm making my own bathtub gin.
Rex Banner replying to a comment from O) / May 14, 2013 at 04:41 pm
You're out there somewhere, Beer Baron... And I'll find you.
Beer Baron replying to a comment from Rex Banner / May 14, 2013 at 04:52 pm
No you won't!
Rex Banner replying to a comment from Beer Baron / May 14, 2013 at 04:54 pm
Yes, I will.
Beer Baron replying to a comment from Rex Banner / May 14, 2013 at 04:57 pm
raymes / May 14, 2013 at 05:04 pm
Don't forget my bath tub!
4ChanApologist / May 14, 2013 at 05:40 pm
While it takes a bit of planning (and work) in advance, you can also buy booze from places like Fermentations and others mentioned in a previous BlogTO post... surprised it was not mentioned.
hey everybody / May 14, 2013 at 05:44 pm
You could also go to a bar, which is so crazy!
tdilla replying to a comment from hey everybody / May 14, 2013 at 05:53 pm
this goes on too long, and the bars may start running out. THEN THERE WILL BE BLOOD ON THE STREETS.
LCBNO / May 14, 2013 at 05:58 pm
the question is if these places are any more affordable? the taxing monopoly called the LCBO has driven the price of alcohol to generate record high profits for the gov't.

tourists from Europe (where most of the best wine beer are made) laugh at what we pay for beer here. your hard earned dollars go into the fancy LCBO stores, arrogant union staff and expensive marketing campaigns, but there is no other choice.

only in complacent Ontario would the population put up with the LCBO and The Beer Store "protecting" us from ourselves (to make more money and shut out small brewers)

hopefully, this trend of the brewers selling direct (and passing on the cost savings!) will continue. that's what the people want. speak up people!
Granite / May 14, 2013 at 06:22 pm
Granite brewery should get a mention too.
steve replying to a comment from LCBNO / May 14, 2013 at 06:51 pm
The Beer Store is not government run.
d / May 14, 2013 at 06:58 pm
@LCBNO I've never found the staff at the LCBO to be arrogant and I love that they are unionized.

I definitely also do not save money by shopping at retail breweries. The price of alcohol is high in Ontario because of taxes. LCBO, contrary to your insinuation, does not set taxes.

johnsonstarfish replying to a comment from steve / May 14, 2013 at 07:32 pm
They're owned by the big breweries, so it's just as bad as being government run.
Dean Tudor / May 14, 2013 at 08:33 pm
I understand that the larger LCBO stores will be open, run by management. But the inventory may run out, so it is best to load up on faves and spirits.
north of the sh1tty / May 14, 2013 at 10:24 pm
Great opportunity to make your own beer & wine with friends & family
steve replying to a comment from johnsonstarfish / May 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm
Really? How so? I thought the thinking was that private sector can do it better then the public sector. A bit of hypocrisy on you part, don't you think?
BD replying to a comment from steve / May 14, 2013 at 11:09 pm
You think a government enforced private monopoly is an example of free market competitive forces in action? A monopoly is a monopoly and should be killed with fire whether it's government or private.
steve replying to a comment from BD / May 15, 2013 at 12:55 am
Your putting words in my mouth I did not even hint at any kind of government monopoly in any context.
The beer store does not have a monopoly, as you can see from your posts and other you can purchase beer freely anywhere it is produced in the province.
Bobby O / May 15, 2013 at 06:47 am
I love the fact the LCBO employees get "Attendance Credits"...go and read the collective clerks earn almost $30hr...and before you lefties throw the "race to the bottom" nonsense at me, getting credits for simply showing up is absolutely insane, and so is that wage level for a clerk. People have spent years in University who don't make that nuch...people need to read the CA and open their's actually quite shocking how much they get in it...unbelievable that they want to strike...they're just as greedy and selfish as the accusations they're making against the LCBO.
Bravo replying to a comment from LCBNO / May 15, 2013 at 09:22 am
Well said sir! (slow clap)

David replying to a comment from Krissy / May 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm
Thanks, I didn't see them initially and wonder why their name isn't linked to their website... I wonder if the posting was revised or not.
D / May 15, 2013 at 05:10 pm
"if you're not a fan of that organization"?? "and why would you be"? My, but you are a pompous ass aren't you. Only craft brews for you? Hipster dick!
BEER BE CHEAP. replying to a comment from LCBNO / May 15, 2013 at 05:11 pm
A 500ml can of Harp Lager, for example, is 2.35 in BC, 3.29 in NS, 2.94 in SK and 2.30 in ON. WE ARE SO GETTING FUCKED!!

Me / May 15, 2013 at 05:51 pm
....or you could just go to The Beer Store, or the LCBO in advance or do without if they indeed go on strike and go after rather than trying so hard to make a big deal out of nothing.
Me replying to a comment from LCBNO / May 15, 2013 at 05:54 pm
Only in Ontario would people whine and moan so much over nothing.
LCBO grunt / May 15, 2013 at 06:34 pm
What you say is true Bobby O, but there are relatively few full-time LCBO employees compared to casuals. It takes 12 years now to become full-time and the starting rate is $25 an hour for them. Us lowly casuals start at $14 per hour and at the start (first few years) often make so few hours, we have to have a second job to make ends meet. Even after 8 years, I have to work 6 days a week, to make enough to pay rent. And at any time they can transfer me to a store where my seniority is trumped, giving me only one or two shifts a week.
LCBO Grunt / May 15, 2013 at 07:03 pm
Oh and trust me, getting between people and their need for alcohol is not an easy job. I get cursed out, called racist names, and get threatened with violence on the regular by pompous businessmen and 20-somthings alike, for enforcing the rules of social responsibility. I don't set the prices. I don't get a discount. I don't even get a Christmas party. I'm payed just enough to put up with the abuse I do...maybe even a bit less. And IF I manage to work 1400 hours this year (in 4-hour shift increments), after the first five years of employment, I am eligible to get my teeth cleaned once a year and 80% off prescriptions. But I'm sure the LCBO will find a way to make sure I don't qualify! What a cushy overpaid job.
Cincinatus replying to a comment from LCBNO / May 15, 2013 at 07:11 pm
I'd rather have the LCBO than have NOTHING at all; also, not all parts of Europe are free in the serving and retailing of alcohol (a few Scandinavian countries have the same set-up as Ontario, and I'll bet that many Scandinavians who've visited don't care about the LCBO or how hard it is to get booze since they have the same thing we do.) This recent article lays it out as to what the real deal is;

If I can't get pot in the same way people can get booze, then why should you get booze just like that? If you don't like it here, you're free to emigrate to Europe or the USA.
Grc / May 15, 2013 at 11:14 pm
F the LCBO! You should make minimum wage! You are glorified shelve stockers and cashiers. Ask the person doing the same job, at your local convenience store, when they get benefits.
JustSoYouKnow / May 15, 2013 at 11:29 pm
I'm sorry but no one is worried about any damn beer or wine, we want cognacs, vodkas, tequila and liqueurs! It's no secret that Toronto has breweries and Ontario has wineries. This article is deceiving and a waste. When you have an article on that let us know...

I could be a douchebag and say oh well I source my liquors from the United States because they have better variety and better prices....BUT I don't wanna be like the hipster dicks that frequent BlogTo all too often.
no point in arguing / May 16, 2013 at 12:00 am
eat the rich
Cincinatus replying to a comment from Grc / May 16, 2013 at 12:10 am
The LCBO's employees have experience in what they sell, and are smart enough to 86 sales to people when needed; would a convenience store owner be that caring enough to do that?
Badmath had a nifty little site / May 21, 2013 at 07:55 pm

Has been around for eons, lovely bit of work when you are thirsty late at night.
beastiality / July 18, 2013 at 05:21 am
I'm gone to inform my little brother, that he should also pay a quick visit this blog on regular basis to get updated from newest news update.
Fancy / October 3, 2013 at 10:24 pm
LCBO newer would go on strike, they make too much money. That's their trik to make even more money every four years (when they sign " deal with union).
Fancy / October 3, 2013 at 10:30 pm
The day before they had to go on strike they made 157% more profit. They make 4 billions a year. Would they miss one day? More then 600 stores in province. Workers like donkeys, they don't know anything . That's one big play for all of us!
Gabe / October 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm
If you really want to find out where to buy booze and when I ALWAYS use
JaDE / October 25, 2014 at 05:58 pm


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