beer trends toronto

5 Toronto beer trends that need to die in 2015

Craft beer in Toronto has taken off as of late. There is no shortage of exciting developments for lovers of quality local brews and there's a growing scene in the big smoke as supporters embrace all things craft beer.

That said, we still have some lingering bad habits, so here's a list of five things we can all work to change this year.

Breweries who take to social media before they even fire up the brew kettle
If you're making your own beer and hoping to start a company selling it, you're probably very excited to tell the world about it. And that's fair, but, as general rule, you should probably nail down your recipes before you create and activate your brewery's social media accounts. In the recent surge of local brewers, far too many companies seem to be putting the cart before the horse and start their business ventures by advertising beer that doesn't even exist yet (indeed some never even end up making any actual beer...). For 2015: Beer first, marketing second, please.

Contract brewers with one flagship brand in a tallboy
Contract brewing isn't inherently evil, but there is a scourge of "brewers" in Ontario who, without actual brewing knowledge or equipment to call their own, and just one can of beer they try to sell to bars and list at the LCBO, aren't so much "breweries" as they are [shudder] marketers. More power to people who start their own business--and kudos to reformed contractors like Kensington Brewing Co. and Left Field who have started to build their own breweries--but we have enough contractors who put little focus on the quality and take up already limited shelf space at the LCBO.

New restaurants seeking freebies from brewers
Hoping to capitalize on the buzz of a hot chef or a new location, new restaurants in Toronto often reach out to craft brewers and ask for discounted (and even free) beer to put on tap. Restaurants promise to expose this craft beer to their diners and brewers are supposed to be grateful for the opportunity to take a big loss on their product. The practice means that restaurant goers largely just get beer from those brewers most willing to play ball, and little guys have less places to pour their beer (for more info on this illegal practice, check out my blog post from July).

The "Ontario Pale Ale"
A while ago, local brewers recognized that bitter and hoppy were trending, but seemingly thought that a dialed-back English/American pale ale hybrid beer that's a bit maltier (usually using Crystal Malt) might reach a broader audience than a hop bomb. The result is what might be called "the Ontario Pale Ale," and, sure, there are some tasty examples, but with Mill Street's Tankhouse, Duggan's No. 9 IPA, Junction Craft Brewing's Conductor's Craft Ale, Kensington Brewing Company's Augusta Ale, et. al., Toronto probably has enough of them. Please don't make any new "Ontario Pale Ales" in 2015.

Good restaurants with terrible beer selection
It's likely a symptom of the bidding war that big brewers started for draught taps, but in 2015, there's really no longer any excuse for restaurants to be serving swordfish, jicama salsa, and chanterelle mushrooms with a Labatt 50. The city's cocktail scene has reached vaguely ridiculous ice-chipping, muddling, in-house-syrup-making heights and you'd be hard-pressed to find any restaurant without a well-considered wine list, so why is beer still getting short shrift? The province has great, independent beer makers who care about quality ingredients and (gasp!) taste.

Photo by P. Frost on Flickr.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. Follow him on twitter at @Ben_T_Johnson.

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