The top Toronto beer news from 2011
2011 has been a busy year for the Toronto beer scene. While the craft beer trend has been a long time coming, who could have foreseen the emergence so many new micro-breweries and boutique Toronto beer brands in the last twelve months. And if our crystal ball is working correctly, there's a lot more activity to come in the year ahead. Here are some of the highlights from 2011 in the life of everyone's favourite beverage.
The Ongoing Saga of 75 Victoria Street
When Duggan's brewpub went deadpool back in April it was a shock to the city's beer-swillers and sophisticates alike. Thankfully, owner Mike Duggan continues to brew his award winning No. 9 IPA (and now No. 5 Sorachi Lager, too) at Cool Beer Brewing Company for distribution at the LCBO. Recently it has been revealed that the old Duggan's location at 75 Victoria has been leased by Molson's Creemore division and is slated to serve as something of an "experimental lab [. . .] where different types of craft beer will be brewed, each one available for a limited time in the retail facility." So beer, yes. But no pub, no restaurant, and sadly, no pot pie.
Dalton McGuinty Steps Up for Microbrewers.
In November, due to some archaic wording in Ontario's legislature, Ottawa-area brewery Beau's All Natural Brewing Company Co. saw their efforts to to launch a home delivery service shut down on the very day it started. Proving that nothing brings people together like beer, the issue was brought to the attention of Premier McGuinty who issued a regulatory permit to Beau's and promised to look at the legislation. On December 2nd, just eight days after having been shut down, Beau's Order Your Own Beer was back in business.
The Toronto Craft Beer Phenomenon
2011 has seen an explosion in the local craft brewery scene. Brewing companies such as Kensington Brewing Company, Bellwoods Brewery, Junction Craft Brewing, Spearhead Brewery, Indie Alehouse, Parkdale Brewery, Saw Dust City Brewery, Hogtown Brewers, and Snowman Brewing Co. have embraced a DIY sensibility, a penchant for social media marketing, and an interest in beers with actual flavours--and Toronto beerophiles are reaping the rewards with an abundance of tasty, local beer being made in our own backyard.
Winning Homebrew has Awesome Name
As part of this year's Toronto Beer Week in September, homebrewer Jeremy Skorochid won the the right to have his beer brewed in a limited batch by Amsterdam Brewery. This news in and of itself isn't that noteworthy (last year's winner did the same); however, this year's winner opted to brew a Black IPA called The Nightman Cometh which was released earlier this month to good reviews. And so, simply for being beer news that references It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Skorochid and Amsterdam make my 2011 round-up. (Sadly, a call to the Amsterdam retail outlet this week confirms that the limited run of 500ml bottles is now all gone).
The big buys noticed that Ontario likes craft beers
In late 2010 the LCBO started to promote craft beer with "Ontario Craft Brewers" discovery packs -- an awesome idea that they've continued into this year. 2011 also saw the opening of the first Beer Boutique in Liberty Village, a space where beer was taken out of the back room and put on display where it belongs. Yes, the Beer Boutique is actually owned by The Beer Store, and any craft brewer that wants The Beer Boutique to carry his or her beer needs to pay a rather large fee just for the right to sell his or her beer there, but at the very least, it's good to see that Ontario's love of craft beer has caused the Beer Store to reexamine the way they do business.
Writing by Ben Johnson
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