News and Notes: May 31, 2024

More beer is coming to grocery stores, convenience stores and big box retailers in September. iStock / Getty Images Plus / Stockah photo

Greetings from Chicago, where your intrepid editor is attending some training at the Siebel Institute related to beer. This is a pretty reasonable time to reveal that George Brown College will be offering WSET Certification in beer this coming Autumn, provided I don’t have an exam freakout and answer every question with “gruit.”

Can recommend Dovetail’s Vienna Lager and the Haymarket Defender American Stout.


The biggest news this week pertains to Doug Ford’s announcement that grocery and convenience store sales will be moved up by nearly two years, to begin in September of this year. This means that existing grocery retailers will be able to branch out into RTDs, grocery retailers and convenience stores that do not have licenses will be able to attain licenses, and big box stores will be able to sell beer by November of this year. In all cases, retailers will be able to sell beer in large packs with reduced prices, emulating a privilege that was previously afforded only to The Beer Store.

This has provoked a mixed reception across social media, with a small number of people for the change and a larger number of people pointing out that the 225 million or so dollars that are being paid to the Beer Store could have been saved if they had simply waited, not to mention the additional 750 million dollars of resultant spending. 

Since I’ve been covering this beat for the last 15 years (including having commissioned polling in 2015 that assisted in the move to grocery store sales, and covering the first day of sales for the CBC) I can tell you that the move to convenience store sales and grocery was inevitable as soon as the Master Framework Agreement was introduced. It is periodically referred to as a sweetheart deal by the Ford Government, but the way Ed Clarke structured it made it a death warrant that The Beer Store was forced to sign. It was a ten year sentence, but they’re getting parole.

Breaking the MFA early seems a political move that is designed to allow the current government to take credit for an inevitability. 

Meanwhile in Chicago, the Walgreens has a standee for Miller Lite draped in the Stars and Stripes, the 7/11 has three fridge doors of big brewery tallboys you need to ring a bell to access, and Whole Foods has what is, frankly, a pretty great selection. Regardless of the exact outcome, expect a mixed bag in terms of results. 

Meuse Brewing took home three awards at the Canadian Brewing Awards. photo


The Canadian Brewing Awards were announced last week, and while the complete results are posted over here, I’d like to highlight a couple of winners. Marcelo Paniza has won for his Jupiter Pilsner, which is a real accomplishment for a homebrewer turned pro (although he won a CBA while still a homebrewer). Couchiching Brewing in Orillia has won for both their Stout and their Grisette, bespeaking a certain facility with multiple styles; that’s a great sign for a small town brewery. Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to Meuse Brewing from Scotland, Ontario for their three awards. I like their beer so much, we special ordered it for George Brown’s Complex Beer Pairing course.

Congratulations additionally to Jennifer Tamse, Director of Beer and Beverage from the Charcoal Group who was knighted by a delegation of Belgian Brewers in Montreal last week. Jennifer is responsible for the selection of beer on tap at Ontario’s Beertown chain, a position that allows her to expose great craft beer to people across the province. When reached for comment as she walked off stage, we mostly talked about Star Trek. Live long and prosper, Jennifer. 

Check out the Kawartha Craft Beer Festival, May 31-June 1. photo


Try Burdock Brewery’s Docklife, a mixed-fermentation saison collab with LowLife Barrel House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Burdock Brewery photo


Difficulty is the preference for the habitual collaborator on a beer known as Dock Life. A collaboration between Burdock and Winnipeg’s Low Life Brewing, this mixed fermentation saison will give you an enormous sense of well being (Dock Life). The subtle funk with a hit of white grape and lemon will make you happy for the rest of the day, safe in the knowledge that there will always be a bit of your heart devoted to it. (Dock Life).

Listen, I don’t really have a joke here. Sometimes, my friend Robin will point out that pride month can be a little corporate and a little co-opted. That said, Rorschach has had a really good record of walking the walk on projects around pride month. I don’t know if you ever tried the Haterade, but it was a big hit and both fun and appropriate. I think a Strawberry Pineapple Chipotle Sour is a really interesting profile. Go drink it on their patio, why not?

Speaking of walking the walk, 50 cents per can of Squeeze Play goes to Bill 7 Award scholarships. Who doesn’t like Rainbow Sherbet? Are you going to tell me you would order Orange Sherbet when you could have Rainbow? That you’d rather have a sorbet to cleanse the palate instead of a big colourful scoop of ice cold sugary refreshment? I bet you’d opt for a plain cone instead of a waffle cone. 

Ohhh yeah, uh huh. The labels for this beer were delayed, which puts me unjustifiably in a position I’d rather not be in, linking to their generic beer store. The beer won multiple awards, which just shows you that the cream rises to the top. Did you know that they hand-peeled, cubed and dry-hopped an American wheat beer with 200 crisp english cucumbers? It’s a little like a Pimm’s Cup, which makes it suitable for Elizabeth, oh yeah. 

A truly interesting taproom only special from Vimy Brewing, who don’t have a lot going on in terms of events. Some breweries will have yoga classes. This beer uses a lagered Kolsch as its base, basically meaning that Vimy is not into Yoga and has half an ale. At the time of writing, we do not know whether the owners have spent any time at the dunes on the cape. If you’re looking for an afternoon out, Vimy is a pretty good escape.

This Saison features over 100 kilos of fresh Pink Guava. What I want you to do is picture an animated 100 kilo man made of individual Guava fruits. I want you to picture that sentient guava golem (gualem?) throwing a looping haymaker right at your mouth. I want you to feel the explosion of extreme guava energy being delivered to your face through sheer kinetic energy. Now I want you to ask yourself, “Hey, how did that golem come to be? Are the people at Henderson possessed of some sort of Frankenstein situation? Where does Guavaman live? Can he afford rent in this economy?” just before you register the impact and crumple into a beguavaed heap.

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