Welcome to the Growler, Ontario

After four years in B.C., the Growler is launching a sister publication in Ontario.
After four years in B.C., the Growler is launching a sister publication in Ontario. Image: David Ort

Isn’t spring wonderful? Birds chirping, trees budding, snow melting – new beer magazines launching. That’s right, Ontario, the Growler, B.C.’s ultimate craft beer guide, is setting up shop here in the land of butter tarts and winning hockey teams. We’re going to produce four print issues a year and bring you our musings on Ontario craft beer on this very website.

After nearly ten years of writing about Ontario craft beer, including a craft beer cookbook, I’m excited to add the challenge of editing a beer magazine.

How is the Growler different from other beer magazines?

Well, for starters, we’re more of a guide. Each issue is built around a directory of breweries and, as well as naming a couple of their beers, also includes their coordinates. We want you to tuck the Growler into the pocket of your favourite beer-tasting jacket and take us with you on your next brewery crawl. Partly for that reason, we won’t be listing contract breweries. Generally, if a craft brewery has their own brewing operation and sells their beer in stores or restaurant and bars, you’ll find a listing about them.

Also, Ontario is a really big province and we just recently crossed the 250-brewery mark, so we deemed it sensible to start with one part of the province and grow from there. That means that issue 1 will cover the GTA, plus the rest of the Golden Horseshoe. And then we’ll progressively expand until we’re covering the whole province by issue 4.

As well as the listings, the front of each issue will be packed with feature articles about Ontario’s craft brewers, the beer they make, and the great people who drink it. I’m excited to be able to write some of these myself and even more pumped to share the spotlight with Ontario’s best beer writers. Three of them – Crystal Luxmore, Jordan St. John and Ben Johnson – have signed on to contribute their hard work for our inaugural go-around.

What is craft beer?

Oh man, that’s a doozy. Personally, I’ve spent way too many hours debating this question with groups of people who essentially agree on:

  • Approximately 98% of the breweries that deserve the label, and
  • That we’d be better off if we could just focus on enjoying good beer.

But it’s not 1868 and some degree of marketing terminology is necessary – for both beer and beer magazines. For us at the Growler, craft beer is different than commoditized macro beer because it’s created by people who are primarily concerned with flavour. They experiment and push boundaries and only wonder what the focus group thinks once they have a recipe they really love.

Sure, that’s about as hazy as a New England IPA, so let’s call it a work-in-progress definition.

Where can you find the Growler?

I get it: Digital doesn’t always cut it for many of us. We want to hold what we’re reading in our hands. Collect our favourite magazines and fill our homes with them.

Luckily, it couldn’t be easier to get your mitts on the first issue of the Growler Ontario – just as soon as it’s published in mid-May. Several of our friends who run Ontario brewery retail shops will have copies for sale and it will also be on newsstands. As well, we’ve got our very own fancy web store, through which you can preorder the first Growler Ontario issue (Summer 2018) or buy a four-issue subscription.

This promises to be a wild and crazy ride – fuelled by more than a couple pints of delicious Ontario craft beer. I hope you’ll follow along here (where we’ll post articles from the print mag and many posts between issues), and also on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And don’t be shy about commenting!

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