Beer In Context (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Drink In The Moment)


The Only Bar, on the even of Sawdust City's Tap Takeover. Not pictured: Sean Norris' insane handlebar 'stache.
The Only Bar, on the eve of Sawdust City’s Tap Takeover. Not pictured: Sean Norris’ insane handlebar ‘stache.

I’m sitting at the Only having a pint. Tonight is the Sawdust City tap takeover – an event even I couldn’t wangle an excuse to not attend. I really like the vibe of the Only, in that it doesn’t know what it is. Is it a Betty’s clone crossed with Starbucks before Starbucks was cool? To me, it is a man cave-esque bar (where the philosophy of your design aesthetic is to visit Value Village to find shit to throw on your walls) leads into an equally eclectic, cozy, warmly-lit coffee bar, fully equipped with a community table and mismatched furniture. I fucking love this place.

The community table at the Only is a popular spot.
The community table at the Only is a popular spot.


I’ve touched briefly before on my opinion on the context of beer drinking. In fact, it’s one of the big reasons why the writers on this blog are charged with writing something, anything, as long as it’s about beer and it’s not a review. We’ve done them before (when the blog was one guy starved for ideas), but the more we tried to figure out what we were about and where our place was in the well-saturated Ontario Craft Beer blog scene, the more we realized how subjective and meaningless (to us) reviews were. It became obvious with some speed that we loved beer, we loved the community, we loved the exploration – but most of all, we loved opening people’s minds to the inclusivity and depth that is the Ontario beer scene.


So, off we set to launch a medium with which to find the balance between informational and fun to read. We want to include everyone, of all interest and knowledge levels, in the beer scene we love so much. There was born one of our favourite abbreviations: BIC, or Beer In Context. This, we decided, is how we’re going to speak to both the uninitiated yet curious beer fan, as well as the discerning Cicerone, and everyone in between.


Beer In Context is the idea that one’s enjoyment (inclusive of memory of nerdy things like aroma and flavor) of any given beer or beers is both related to and more memorable if recalled in the context in which it was consumed. It’s not hard to grasp; the 5 W’s of a beer simply mean an environmental recollection of an entire evening or situation.


I first went over the idea of BIC with myself when I went to Bar Hop – alone. I had a dinner to attend in a couple of hours, and with time to kill, I wanted to see what summery stuff was available at my favourite bar.   As it is on summer evenings, BH was crammed with people; the Jays game on the telly, and a lone seat at the bar awaited me. I had no book, no newspaper, no laptop – I decided to just enjoy the atmosphere, Twitter, and the 7 Weeks Of Staying Up All Night by Sawdust City that I tried for the first time that day.


For someone like me with a chronically poor memory, I sure remember those two hours really, really well. I remember the date. The Jays’ opponent. The name of the two ladies to the left me at the bar who asked me what to have. The smell of the sandwich in the hands of the guy to my right (who was jotting down notes of some kind in a notebook feverishly with his other hand for over an hour). Most of all, I remember being floored by the beer. Every ester note, every sip, every new discovery I made through my analysis of this saison. Weird, right? That a beer could stand out so much, and with such detail, that it makes one’s evening more memorable? To me, they are hand in hand, one not remembered without the other.


To you, the beer fan, I say this: try to keep the context of one’s beer in mind. Compare it to the next time you have it. Consider what you ate with it, where you were, who you were with. I dare say that you’ll never be bored of a beer again – I promise.


– Mike

Labatt Purchases Mill St. Brewery, Invests $10M in Brewery Operations

Striking a chord in the hearts of beer lovers across the province, Mill St Brewery has been purchased by Labatt.  Cue violins.

These guys and girls make great beer. I hope it stays that way.
These guys and girls make great beer. I hope it stays that way.

Mill Street brewery opened in 2002, and has since been a key player in the craft beer movement in Ontario.  Popular beers include the only-craft-option-at-Jack-Astors Organic Lager, the first-ever-Ontario-pale-ale Tankhouse Ale, and this writer’s favourite dark ale, Distillery Ale (please, please, PLEASE DON’T CHANGE THIS).  They’ve also recently released Tankenstein IPA into the hands of the LCBO, a great foray into the highly competitive (and extremely delicious) IPA market.

From an editorial perspective, the reactions have not been extremely mixed.  Disappointment reigns supreme, as beer snobs everywhere divert their money to smaller breweries that are not corporately owned.   Another concern is quality of product – will the recipes get cheaper to make for mass consumption at the expense of a quality product?  All questions that can only be answered by time – and tasting.

We’ll keep you in the loop on social for now, so for more developments, check out our Twitter feeds.  Bottomless Pint is here, and I can be found tweeting through the 5 stages of grief here.



The Summer of Saisons

I went on a bit of a spiritual journey this summer.

Normally (aka previous summers) my beers of choice have been pretty regular: a cold Pils, a nice session IPA, or even a solid Helles or lager from time to time.  I think this goes for most of us beer people: if we’re outside relaxing, we like to have a few beers, not go BJCP on everything we drink, and enjoy the bliss that the heat of the sun and a cold beer brings, as the summer sunshine comes and goes far too quickly here in the Great North.

In my frequent browsing one May morning of my local LCBO’s shelves, I discovered a trend:  There are a lot of local Saisons being made.  I had never really explored the Saison before, mostly due to the fact that prior to this summer, there weren’t as many being made locally that my LCBO carried (and granted, I probably didn’t look very hard at this style).  Wish I’d discovered them sooner! (For those who don’t know what a Saison or Farmouse ale is, click here.)

Something I really love about summer is that I seem to remember the new beers I had contextually – the scene, my mood, the music playing when drinking it.  I think the environment really contributes to a beer drinker’s happiness in the moment, and in my blog writing, helps me to remember what I’ve had.  With that in mind, i’ve decided to tell you about my top five Ontario saisons – in no particular order – with some extras!  See if you can enjoy them the same way I did!

Sawdust City 7 Weeks of Staying Up All Night Picnic Table Saison

Where I had it first: Bar Hop during that massive July heatwave

What song was playing: I Got A Name – Jim Croce7

I list this first because, quite frankly, it is fucking stellar.  Came to me in a glass at Bar Hop around 5PM, where I sat with a couple hours to kill waiting for a friend of mine (and writing ideas for articles for this blog).  It had been a particularly stressful and hot day that day, and I’d seen this beer praised on social endlessly.

Notes of the inclusive pink peppercorn and lemon zest are immediately evident in the aroma, as well as a pleasant (yet thin) yeast ester that is present in the flavour, too.  Very light-bodied, fruity, and with medium carbonation, this is a complex beer I discover something new in every time I drink it.  I literally drove to Gravenhurst to get some.  You should too.  No word on if it will be back for next summer. Update: it’ll be back next summer. REJOICE.

Oast House Saison

Where I had it first: My backyard on a weekend when I had nothing to do but cut the grass

What song was playing: I Don’t Want To Know – Fleetwood Mac



Anyone who wandered into the LCBO this summer saw a corked bomber bottle of this on the shelves, emblazoned with the comforting and familiar Oast House branding.  I enjoyed this while doing nothing but listening to the Spotify playlist my family had prepared for our little backyard relaxation sessions where we sit around and drink while playing with the neighbour’s cats that they leave out all the damn time.

Extremely faithful to the style, this one is incredibly balanced with an alcoholic spiciness in the flavour, a funk that is not easily forgotten in the aroma, an extremely light malt body, and a distinctly low-carbonation mouthfeel that made this entire bottle very, very easy to drink (and very hard to share).


Left Field Sunlight Park Saison

Where I had it first: Steamwhistle’s Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival

What song was playing: Something by Plaid on Flannel, i don’t remember

Victoria had implored I give this a shot after she drank gallons of it at one of the SOBDL events prior, and mentioned it was the best thing she’d had in a while.  A bold claim, so I had to investigate for myself.  By the way, always attend this festival – it is, in my opinion, the best one of every summer.

Dominated by citrus (grapefruit zing with lemony sweetness) in both aroma and flavour, this stands out as having a fairly grassy hop profile – while not overbearing, it certainly is there; complemented by a ever so slight tartness and the higher carbonation on this list.  Mandie & Mark picked a great name for this beer, as it is quite literally the defining qualities of a summer afternoon – sunny, grassy, and ever-so-refreshing.  “More-ish” is how I describe Sunlight Park.

Amsterdam Howl Farmhouse Ale

Where I had it first: Out of a growler on the first hot summer weekend of the year on a patio

What song was playing: Higher Ground – Stevie Wonder

I only had one pint of this because my mom drank the rest, after proclaiming it was her favourite beer in the known universe.  So there’s that.  It won an award in 2014 and came back this year!

Spicy.  Alcohol is the forward profile of this saison, with lots and lots of yeast complexities and a very (nearly overbearing) funk, thanks in part to the 2 Brettanomyces strains inclusive in this beauty .  As i got through my glass, I was greeted by a medium grain maltiness and a low-yet-notable floral hop character.  If you’re a Brett fan, you’ll love Howl.  If not, suck it up, because you’ll still like Howl.

Muskoka Moonlight Kettle Summer Saison

Where I had it first: A hot brew day in Mathew’s apartment

What song was playing: Matt screaming in the background of the Jays game about the beer he was making

When Matt (the guy I write this blog with) and I get together, there’s a lot of fawning over beers.  The rule at his place is as long as you bring beer, you may take whatever is in his two fridges full (“why are there vegetables in the beer crisper?” he loudly asks his lovely and tolerant girlfriend, Deb.)  So, I picked the Moonlight Kettle series beer – i’m told now has it’s 2nd installment, an APA.

Colouring on this saison was definitely the darkest I’d seen,  with an upfront yeast and clove presence in the thick white head (which, i must say, had the best retention and lacing of this bunch).  Very complex with a very present malt backbone, Moonlight Kettle was the heftiest beer in this bunch alcohol-wise, but hid it beneath beautiful carbonation and farmhouse funk.

– Mike


Honorable mentions include Bellwoods Farmhouse Classic, Collingwood Saison, and Cameron’s Into The Shade Saison.

Disagree with my analysis or picks?  Sound off in the comments!

Pints, Samples, and Bottleshops: A Guide

So. You’ve dropped into your favourite local brewery on a gorgeous day in the lovely province of Ontario, and you are hit with the sudden urge to sit down and have a pint. What could be better, right? A fresh pint, straight from the brewery, where the beer was probably brewed mere days ago. Great idea!!

Except it’s not, because unfortunately, a lot of the breweries across Ontario aren’t actually allowed to give you the beer they so artfully create by the glass. By this point, us Ontario Beer Drinkers should just be used to the red tape that we have to get through just to enjoy some home grown wobbly pop (don’t even get me started on growler regulations). Alas, this still catches many people by surprise. *sigh*

Basically, there are four different types of licenses that breweries can get. There are tons of conditions and variations to these licenses, but for the purposes of this article I’m hoping to keep it simple. Buckle up, I’m about to take you on a colourful (and hopefully not boring) regulatory ride through the different liquor licenses so that you can get a better idea what a brewery has to go through just to serve you a fresh pint.


  1. Manufacturer’s License

This is the most common, and it is a license obtained through the AGCO in order to sell products that a brewery produces in the LCBO. This type of license is technically secondary to a federal license under the Excise Act (2001) and has to be acquired prior to the making and packaging of any beer. From what my research tells me, this has to be renewed every year. This is your basic Government of Ontario Starter Package License in order to make yummy beer, and one of its main purposes is to collect tax. Cute!


  1. “Tied House” Liquor Sales License

This type of license works best for breweries that want to have a bottle shop on site. It is under the manufacturer’s license, and it allows manufacturers to sell and showcase their own products. Under this license, manufacturers do not have to follow rules of having a variety of different brands for the consumer to choose from, like the LCBO has to. There are more specific regulations that go along with this license in regards to manufacturer’s that also have special events in their spaces.


  1. “By the Glass” Liquor Sales License

Here’s where it gets complicated. This is the license needed to be able to sell pints at a brewery, and a manufacturer’s license is needed first. Beer can only be sold from 11am-9pm on any given day, and servings cannot exceed 12oz. What is important to understand is that some breweries will need to have all three of these licenses, just to please the occasional person who wants to have a pint straight from the brewery. For example, if a brewery has a Tied House License, this does not mean a customer can buy a bottle from the retail fridge and drink it on the premises and be able to get around needing a By The Glass License. Are you good and confused yet??
Mandie Murphy, co-founder of Left Field Brewing, told me about the issues she finds with having a “By the Glass” License. She explained to me:

“The purpose of the license as defined by the AGCO is that it’s aimed at promoting the manufacturer’s product and either providing an enhanced tourist experience or fulfilling an educational purpose. There are many events that we would like to host with the intent of fulfilling either of those goals after 9pm but the license restricts us from doing so.” However, she does see the benefit of having a Tied House License, because “sampling before purchasing is one of the key reasons people choose to buy beers directly from a brewery instead of from the LCBO or Beer store.” She is optimistic in hoping that someday soon, Ontario will take notes from B.C. and create legislation that allows breweries to pour other manufacturer’s beers or wines in their Tap Room, as a way to enhance the tourist experience and fulfill an educational purpose, as is stated directly in the verbiage of Ontario liquor licenses. So basically, even when you find a license that works for you, it isn’t always a perfect solution.


  1. The Brewpub License

In certain occasions, a brewery with a liquor sales license may obtain a Brewpub endorsement under section 57 (1) of the Liquor License Act. This seems like a great idea, right? However there are catches to this license as well; not every brewery has aspirations of becoming a brewpub. Also, there are regulations under this license stating how much interest of the business the license holder must have (51% to be completely silly and specific) and also, the brewpub cannot serve any brews that are above 6.5% ABV. So yeah, that 14% barrel-aged porter you had your eyes on? Not happening today, my friend.

On top of these licenses, Jason Fisher, the owner and self-titled Occasional Brewer at Indie Alehouse informed me that a Federal permit is also necessary, along with many permits from the City. “You need the city stuff to get the AGCO to give final approval, and that process was, and may still be, chaotic to say the least.” Jason went further to explain that the listed Provincial licenses were, unfortunately, the most expensive and complicated. Michael Clark, Brewer and Owner of Bellwoods Brewery, echoed Jason’s sentiments, and highlighted that municipal zoning is “the worst part about opening a brewery in Toronto.” Jason did take time to note that he, as well as many other Ontario brewers, has had great experiences with the staff at the AGCO, and everyone in the Ontario brewing community helps each other out during this process. He tells me “If it were ever automated and put on line it would be so much easier. There was talk about ‘modernizing’ the AGCO a few years back – not much has come of that.” Jason is very optimistic for the changes that City Councillor Mike Layton will (hopefully) be making to make life easier for future brewers.

Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “why does she care so much about any of this?” Well, the purpose of explaining these licenses to you, my incredibly good-looking reader, is that I want you to understand the complicated process that a brewery must go through to sell you a pint, when I’m sure it seems like such a simple thing to do. It is an incredibly difficult process, and one that includes a lot of risks, as our friends at Left Field Brewing can tell you.  My advice to beer drinkers: if you really appreciate the beer that a brewery creates, trust that they have the license that fits them and their values the best, and go to a bar that sells their beer if you’re truly dying for a pint. I bet the people at said brewery would love to give you a list of a few bars in the neighbourhood that pour their brews. Or, visit the bottle shop, and go home and drink a few bottles of your favourite brew with your pants undone while watching Netflix – whatever wets your whistle. But please, avoid hassling the good people at the breweries across Ontario that are doing their best with the licenses they’ve got to provide folks with some good, locally made craft beer.

Special thanks to Mandie from Left Field Brewing, Jason from Indie Alehouse, as well as Carmen and Michael from Bellwoods Brewery for letting me quote them, and also to Tom Paterson, president of Junction Craft Brewing Inc. for helping me out with my research!


– Victoria


About the Author

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.37.58 PMThrown headlong into the Toronto craft scene by her

adoration for the sustainable and local business, 

Victoria holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies.  

She works in the bottle shop of one of Ontario’s

best craft breweries, and adores the children she 

teaches dance, a good book, and investigating new beer. 

Find her on twitter here.

Where are all the badass ladies at? SOBDL Bevies, that’s where.

Ahem, is this thing on??
Hey folks, my name is Victoria and I’m new to the blogging scene. For the most part, I leave the beer-writing to those with infinitely more cred than what I’ve got in my repertoire, but I recently went to my very first bevy, and I wanted to share my experience (and hopefully light a fire under the butts of other ladies lurking in the shadows, too afraid to bevy it up)! Let me start by saying, I’m not here to do an in-depth review of the beer that was available. I’m here to give you my opinions of the event as a whole, and talk to you about the phenomenal beers I had. Because shit, they were phenomenal.

I attended Bevy0017 of the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies on June 26th with a lovely lady coworker of mine. It was held at the Monarch Tavern, tucked away in Little Italy in the College-Bathurst area. I’ve been a craft beer drinker for about two and a half years now, and I have come into contact with the awesome ladies behind SOBDL quite a few times; whether it be at Roundhouse festivals, cider launch events or at brewery tours while they were doing their day jobs. Due to previous work constraints, I had never been able to make it to a bevy…until this glorious evening.

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A true tap takeover. – Photos by Ren Navarro

As soon as I walked into the Monarch, I knew it would be an amazing evening. All that could be heard was laughter, good tunes, and the type of high decibel conversation that only hoards of beer-drinking women can accomplish successfully. ‘Twas brilliant.

Making my way to the bar, I ordered my first beer of the night which was the Bevy Brew (which we subsequently finished in about an hour) called Wasted Away Again in Mojitoville from the great folks at Sawdust City. At 4.8%, this was everything I thought it could be and more, embracing the salty and lime aspects of mojitos and somehow still tasting like beer. The lime made for a nice tangy finish, and gave it a telltale mojito aroma. It went down far too easily. Also at the bar, next to the gorgeous ladies pulling pints for us all night, some great BBQ was served up from the equally gorgeous people from Baju BBQ. Yum.

@torontoerica had some important bevy tips for everyone. – Photos by Ren Navarro

Apart from the bevy brew, I felt there were three standouts from the beer selection that evening. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Church Key Brewing- Holy Smoke 6.2%

I don’t even know where to start. This is a Scotch ale infused with so much richness and smokiness that honestly, it tasted a bit like meat. Before this evening, I didn’t know that could be a good thing, but holy shit was it ever tasty. I should note that by “tasting like meat” I don’t mean it had a particularly fleshy taste, I just mean that the malts used created such a savory and bold taste to the beer that it gave you a sweet reminder of bacon. Feel me?? Fuller in body and darker in colour, but light enough on the tomgue that it wasn’t overbearing after a few sips. Also, this beer acts as a wonderful conversation starter. I made me some new friends over this lovely brew.


just a few of the lovely SOBDL #bevy0017 participants. – Photos by Ren Navarro

2. Left Field Brewery- Sunlight Park Saison 5.7%

The combination of citrusy goodness and toasted wheat flavours in this saison are, in my opinion, unparalleled. It has the zippy and sour tastes of a traditional saison but the yeast profile and lemon flavours are highlighted nicely as well, giving it a lot of depth. Amazing balance, incredibly light and easy in body. Just beautiful.


3. Great Lakes Brewery- Limp Puppet Session IPA 3.8%

Not going to lie, this one blew my mind a little bit. Unfiltered, so the lemon and grapefruit flavours were able to shine without being too overbearing or bitter, and the lower ABV left a lighter feeling on the tongue than other IPAs tend to have. If you’re usually afraid of IPAs, this one is sessionable enough that it may just convert you into a hop-head. Ridiculously good.


So basically, I drank beer, ate BBQ and felt all the good feels. The group of women (and group of men after midnight) that this event attracted was unbelievably friendly, great at dancing, and dare I say, incredibly attractive. Shoutouts to you, girl I met in the bathroom that told me she liked my lipstick.

Ren, Magenta, Erica, Jen and Jamie, you ladies truly know how to make a gal feel welcome. Thank you for creating this avenue for women to gather, share and experience new things. I will definitely be at many of the future bevies to come.

I should also mention that a portion of the ticket sales was donated to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Swoon.


** Although these monthly bevies are geared towards women, this event is welcoming to women of all shapes/forms/identities etc. And the men are even allowed after midnight!! **




About the Author

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.37.58 PMThrown headlong into the Toronto craft scene by her

adoration for the sustainable and local business,

Victoria holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies.  

She works in the bottle shop of one of Ontario’s

best craft breweries, and adores the children she

teaches dance, a good book, and investigating new beer. 

Find her on twitter here.

Brickworks launches Queen Street 501, not delayed like its namesake

In case you haven’t heard, not all adult-beverage loving Torontonians are hop-heads.   Put down your pitchforks, people, and pick up your bushel baskets – it seems that the term “craft cider” is here to stay.


Brickworks Ciderhouse is a local craft cider brewer (Toronto-famous for Batch 1904, their first retail cider now available at your local LCBO) with a flair for the unique. Their products only contain apples (a single ingredient, flash pasteurized) from within 300km of their cidery in Toronto. Without reviewing it, it’s fucking delicious, especially for summer patio season; if you have not yet dabbled in the world of local cider, I implore you to give it a try.

(as with all of my articles, here’s a link to the LCBO finder, you’re welcome)

I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch party for Brickworks’ newest cider, Queen Street 501 – aptly named after the longest streetcar route in North America – a semi-sweet apple cider, made from a blend of 8 types of apples.

The party kicked off at Betty’s (website link) on King East, an appropriate atmosphere for the hipster in us all. The crowd was rowdy – media types, lifestyle bloggers, and contest winners all poured in to say hi to Blake “Sugsy” Sugden (Brickworks’ Event Manager) and the rest of the friendly folks at Bricksworks.

Talking with Blake, it was easy to see why Brickworks has instantly become a tasty (and now very well-syndicated) hit. “We’re proud”, he says, when asked about their instant hit with Batch 1904, ”people love our stuff, and we’re going to keep at it.” Between their constant attendance at events, impressive list of bars that stock their Batch 1904 (and a decent handful of bars that carried Queen St. 501 pre-release), and their unique, minimalist can art (Amy Patterson, 2013 CASSIE Award winner and all-around design genius), the Brickworks brand is one Torontonians can identify with, and more importantly, easily identify as a stand-out product among the dozens of competitors to be found at any haphazardly-organized LCBO cider section.

From there was an awesome treat – Brickworks commissioned a restored old streetcar to bring guests from the launch at Betty’s, along the Queen Street 501 route, and back to the Firkin on King for the launch party.

Check out some photos from the launch (care of Victoria Rombis and VOCAB Communications)and stay 100% ontario for life!

– Mike
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Learning From Beer

George Brown College students select the growing trend of craft beer for their most ambitious project yet


I love beer festivals.

I love the selection. I love being surrounded (for the most part) by people who love beer as much as I do. I love having the ability to connect with my favourite brands and give them thanks for a brew that I particularly enjoyed.

With that in mind, it seems I’m not the only twenty-something student in the universe that not only loves beer, but loves the culture surrounding it.

Shelly Avner, the head of Marketing for UntappedTO, is one of the 16 Event Planning students running UnTappedTO, Toronto’s newest (and only indoor one I can think of ) winter festival celebrating the best in craft beer.

“The breweries have been extremely supportive,” says Shelly. “They are all about getting their product in the hands of new drinkers, and have been great to work with so far.”

The large student team has been extremely busy the past few months, carefully planning each aspect of the event, from sponsorship to vendors, as a part of their Capstone project.  Sponsors and vendors (including popular trendsetters Smoke’s Poutinerie) will be present, keeping you entertained, and well fed.

Attending breweries include Amsterdam, Junction, Beau’s, Wellington, Lake of Bays, Cameron’s, Railway City, Black Oak, Brimstone, and Brickworks Ciderhouse.

They’re on Twitter and Instagram @untappedTO as well – give ’em a follow, especially to take pictures of the event and let them know what you think!

There’s no doubt Bottomless Pint readers will want to attend, so come on down – Matt and I will be there to get some pictures and quotables for a recap of the event coming in a couple of weeks.

Here are the deets:


Grab you and your friends some tickets from here – and enjoy!

7 Beers to Introduce Your Friends to Craft Beer With

Pickering LCBO with a fantastic OCB display.  Summer 2014.
Pickering LCBO with a fantastic OCB display. Summer 2014.

With how much I talk about beer in my daily life, one of the most-raised inquiries is “Where do I start?” I find that, generally, people who haven’t tried local (for whatever reason – usually lack of brand knowledge, or non-availability) have a pretty open mind, and would love to support the craft industry if they could find a beer they liked. I usually hear that they had a bad experience trying someone else’s IPA or stout (“I don’t like dark beers!”, they dramatically state), and it’s turned them off to expanding their taste completely.

So here, ladies and germs, is the list – 7 beers (in order!) that will show off the best OCB has to offer in the light-and-non-offensive-to-a-macro-palate beers.

Remember now, it probably took you years to get to that bourbon-barrel aged dry-hopped Imperial Stout; don’t be mean to new craft drinkers. Encourage them to explore pressure free, and simply make recommendations when asked.  LCBO links included for your (and their!) visual shopping pleasure.


  1. Amsterdam (416) Local Lager

“But (big beer) is the only one I like!”

Well, this is about as close to the perfect summer-day beer one can get. At 4.16%, straw-pale, and light as a feather, Amsterdam’s ode to the Toronto area code is the simple, easy to drink, palatable introduction to craft, or as I like to call it, “What beer really tastes like”.


  1. Lake of Bays Top Shelf Lager

“I don’t like Ales. They’re too bitter.”

Well good, because this is another one you might like. With at least some body, and scratching the surface of a malt taste, this well-rounded lager will please any thirsty person. A bonus point for appealing to hockey fans in it’s branding, which (through my experience) actually draws inexperienced drinkers to it.


  1. Mill Street Organic/100th Meridian Amber

“I’ve had this before!” / “I love the Hip! WHERE THE GREAT PLAINS BEGIN!”

Probably. A widely circulated light lager (thanks, Mill St!), I find Organic is usually the only option for craft at some smaller-scale bars, especially on the outskirts of Toronto. More of the easy-to-drink style, and looks appealing in it’s clear bottle. A little bit more “beery-ness” (A word I invented just now) as well, which leads us to the Amber.

If they’ve already experienced Organic, 100th Meridian is a fantastic alternate. (Pour it into a glass and watch your friend’s eyes widen as they exclaim “It’s too dark, I’ll hate it!”. Giggle condescendingly.) It is fresh, clean, and most of all, likely different from what your pal is used to tasting, which is always important.


  1. Steamwhistle Pilsner


Quiet, you. Welcome to Pilsnertown (though I guess we can just call it Plzen). With a taste and flavor profile any Toronto beer fan could pick out of a lineup with relative ease, Steamwhistle is the first and only Pilsner on the list. Take time to explain the malt and Saaz hop combo they’re tasting, and remind them of your (read: Mike’s) favourite Czech proverb: “A fine beer may be judged in one sip, but it is better to be thoroughly sure.”   Make sure this one’s in a glass for the full experience. For the bonus round, take ‘em straight to the brewery for fun, a tour, and free beer.


  1. Collective Arts Saint of Circumstance Blonde Ale

“Why are all the labels different?”

Collective Arts did something really, really cool with their packaging, by making different series bottles and labels featuring “indie” artists and musicians, as well as collaboration with local Toronto radio station Indie88. Beer wise, they’re also doing incredibly awesome small-batch beers, like this citrusy low-ABV blonde ale. Your new craft buddy will appreciate its not-so-subtle orange and lemon flavours as well as a distinct, crisp (but not intimidating) bite that sets it apart from its nearest comparison (The orange guy with the mohawk).


  1. Beau’s Lug Tread Lagered Ale 

“Do I have to drink the whole bottle?”

And now, for something completely different. Trying to explain what makes a Lagered Ale a Lagered Ale will be fruitless, so I’d usually introduce this as “It’s beer, and it’s new, so f**cking drink it and tell me what you think”.   Beau’s most circulated offering, this favourite of mine really profiles a solid, crisp lager with a bitterness that, (if you’ve followed this list) by now, shouldn’t intimidate your new craft fan. That, I think, is the best descriptor of Lug Tread for a new beer drinker: different. At least to me, when I had it, I didn’t know how to describe what I was tasting… but I knew I hadn’t tasted it before. And yes – you do have to finish the bottle. What did I tell you about the Czechs?


  1. Muskoka Detour IPA


Because it’s 30 IBU, and damn solid as an intro to the world of IPA that all of us snobs love. A great chat to have with Detour is the absolute unworldly variance of what an IPA actually is, and how intense a hop profile they can get. Again, the introduction to craft should be about the fun and interest in trying something different, and exploring what the “style” or “label” means behind the brewery’s philosophy or the kind of beer in your glass. Muskoka’s golden IPA smells sweet and even slightly cirtusy, and though you can absolutely taste the dry-hopped intensity, I don’t think this is intense enough to turn anyone off of IPAs entirely.

With my introduction to craft now complete, I feel like a reminder is due: This list is intended to spark an interest in the story of local craft brewing as well as a “there are other options out there” attitude with new craft drinkers.  

With that in mind – may your glasses be full, your friends open-minded, and your craft-snob integrity intact.  Cheers!

What do you think of my list? Comments or questions? Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram and tell me what you think.

Old North (Lake of Bays Brewing)


Origin: Baysville (Muskoka), Ontario, Canada

Beer Style: Porter

Alc./Vol.: 8%

Suggested Glassware: English Pint/Shaker

Suggested Serving Temperature: Leave it in the snow outside your house for half an hour before consuming

Availability: Seasonal (Late Fall/Winter)

Where to buy:  Lake of Bays brewery or select LCBO locations

Evenin’, all. Mike here; I’m @beermostly on Twitter and Instagram – Matt has been kind enough to extend his hand to a fellow beer lover and begin what I’m sure will be a fantastic partnership here at The Bottomless Pint with guest reviews. Let’s dive in.

Ah, stout and porter season. Warm your soul with beers to intimidate your significantly less-snobby friends!

Old North Mocha Porter holds a special place in my heart. At its launch, I got very excited at the idea that coffee, one of my favourite drinks, could be woven into my other favourite drink… beer. It also holds this special place because on Christmas morning 2012, I realized I hadn’t refrigerated my beer selection for that day. In a panic, I stuck the tall bottle in a snowbank on my back deck for about half an hour, and during gift opening time (among many a chocolate covered almond and stolen pieces of peameal bacon from Mom’s frying pan) I cracked the bottle and poured (what would that day be) my morning coffee.

Sentiments aside, this is a beautiful beer to look at. The 750mL bottle is perfect for sharing. Into a wide mouth glass pours a light brown head on an opaque dark chocolate brown body whose carbonation is mid-range, with a lingering foam and a floating, delicate lace on the glass and the top of the beer all the way down. The 2014 version is 8% – one higher than last year’s.

At first sniff, you get a scent not unlike the one you get when you empty your used grounds from your coffee machine – a wet, roasty smell that, for the inexperienced nose, would intimidate. Drinking a first sip, you are greeted with a velvety, deep malt and chocolate flavour that can only be described as “more-ish” – very, very pleasant and incredibly medium bodied beer with bubbles that make you lick your lips.

Through the glass, the coffee flavours shone through. Sourced from Diesel House Coffee Roasters, the flavours extend a warming bitterness that makes drinking this at 9AM on Christmas Day absolutely acceptable. With minimal alcohol taste (but lots of punch after an entire bottle), the beer finishes with an espresso flavour and warm, tasty, rich body that becomes better as you drink it. An absolute treat!

10629696_10152292408845904_6492939900423753687_nMike Burton is an advertising student, lover of Toronto, and a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. He asked us to tell you that. In the grand scheme of things, this means nothing, but feel free to follow his entertaining Twitter and Instagram feeds @beermostly.