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The top Toronto beer news from 2013

Posted by Ben Johnson / December 23, 2013

toronto beer newsThe year that was in Toronto beer was largely filled with good news as our beer scene continues to grow and new brewers keep popping up in and around the GTA. Here are the highlights in the world of everyone's favourite beverage in Toronto this year.

Bellwoods opens their retail space
Early this year some of the best beer-makers in the province opened up a retail shop next to their already popular brewpub. Early "pop up" retail hours were wildly successful as scores of brew-enthusiasts queued up for a bottle or two of Witchshark or Monogamy. Now the retail shop is open full-time (until 11pm seven days a week). Rumour has it that the Bellwoods boys are itching to expand their retail operations and are held back only by the confines of space and some pesky rules currently known as the law.

Steam Whistle arrives at Jays' games
In a move that seemed like a no-brainer for the scores of people who not only like the city's sports teams but also the city's beer, in March it was announced that you would finally be able to get Steam Whistle (a beer brewed across the street) at Toronto Blue Jays' games. Yes, that beer is a little hard to find, doesn't appear to be mentioned on any official Rogers Centre communications material, and will cost you $11 for a tall boy, but it's local beer at the ball game so it's a start.

Two of Toronto's biggest craft brewers open huge restaurants
This year Amsterdam brewery not only moved their brewing operations to Leaside but also opened a massive brewhouse on the city's waterfront. Not to be outdone, Mill Street opened the Beer Hall next to their Distillery District brewpub.

Kensington Brewing Company announces a new crowd-sourced brewery
Taking a cue from small farms that use a similar model, Kensington Brewing Company is looking for public investors to help fund their bricks-and-mortar brewery location on Augusta Eve. Potential investors can invest as little as $20 and receive a number of perks depending on their level of investment, including gift cards, exclusive event invites and a variety of branded swag (Not to mention the right to tell people you're a brewery owner).

Cool Beer Brewing Company expands their operation
Etobicoke's Cool Beer Brewing Company is currently home to a handful of contract brewing companies and recently commenced plans to greatly expand their facilities, adding a full 20% more capacity in the form of four new 330-hectolitre fermentation tanks. It's pretty clear that contract brewing has proven lucrative for Cool and these new facilities seem to indicate that the contract brewing trend will continue fairly strongly into 2014.

Convenience Stores make an unsuccessful plea to sell booze in Ontario
Earlier this year, the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) began to publicly lobby the province to let them sell booze. The pitch included some commitments to sell Ontario products and create jobs but what it ultimately boiled down to was "please let us sell alcohol because we really really want to" and, let's be honest, who wouldn't want a slice of that multibillion dollar pie? Alas, the government didn't bite. For the time being, we'll have to keep buying our booze the old fashioned way (Unless of course you're a oenophile. Then of course the province totally has your back).



Troy / December 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Oh, and a local Toronto brewery (Great Lakes) was named the 2013 Canadian Brewery of the Year too! :)

Have a great holiday Benjamin!

Troy Burtch

Great Lakes Brewery
vonfunk / December 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm
Yup, typicla BlogTO fare. Another article hyping the "virtues" local beer, maybe eventually they'll get writer who's not deep into the pockets of small business.
M replying to a comment from vonfunk / December 23, 2013 at 02:23 pm
You obviously have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Do you realize how hilarious and backwards "deep in the pockets of small business" sounds?

Ben is an independent, principled writer that happens to have a reputation for calling out breweries both big and small when required. To date his writing has been far from what you're describing. Of course you would know this if you had just taken a few moments to look at his portfolio before questioning his integrity, and the integrity of the brewing industry in general, with bizarre conspiratorial accusations. Now THAT'S typical BlogTO fare.
irony / December 23, 2013 at 02:35 pm
i'm sick of these deep pocketed independent small breweries doing business for the love of their craft paying off blog writers to spew their agenda.
it reeks i tell you!
bs / December 23, 2013 at 02:39 pm
ben just gets lots of hand jobs, where's the harm in that?
Ben / December 23, 2013 at 03:02 pm
I prefer to call them "wristies."
Tim / December 23, 2013 at 04:13 pm
What about Cask Days!? It was epic!!
vonfunk replying to a comment from M / December 28, 2013 at 10:34 am
Seriously? Yes, I know exactly how that phrase sounds because I wrote it to sound ludicrous. Ben mentioned on his twitter that the post had been up for hours and no one had made a snarky comment, the whole thing was written to sound ridiculous.
Chris Schryer / December 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm
Ben doesn't mention that the wristies are self-administered......

Seriously, I'm "in the pocket" of small business too. It means occasional free beer. Look out! Next thing you know, they'll be giving us free key chains and asking us to be the guarantor on their passport applications.

But as long as we're knocking Ben's article, how the heck could you leave out Zwanze Day?! Zwanze Day!!!! Uber-geeks are crying into their 2-year aged bottles of Belgain Quads over this one!
Ben replying to a comment from Chris Schryer / December 28, 2013 at 01:09 pm
Shit, yes. Good call. That was rather large news.

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