Posts in LCBO Releases

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Tapping into Some New Kegs for Ontario

August 6th, 2016 Posted by Consignment & Private Orders, Feature, LCBO Releases 1 comment

For those of you who know me, I have long criticized the archaic keg importation and distribution system in Ontario. It is one that is legacy at its finest, something that favours a few select companies, has not kept up with the changing beer times and ultimately has affected the potential selection that Ontario beer consumers could have on draught in the province.

To summarize the system, the only way for a local brewery agent to import a keg for in-bar sale in Ontario is to pay a significant listing fee and have it distributed by The Beer Store, or negotiate with one of three private companies (Premier Brands, Premium Beer and Diageo), who were granted authorization by the LCBO to distribute kegs. However, as these companies are brewery agents themselves, a natural conflict of interest arises when it comes to distributing the kegs of others. This was not such of an issue when the agreements were first forged many years ago, however recently with the influx of new brewery agents in Ontario, this means that many potential brands looking to get on tap in the market had to play by out of date and unfair rules. If you would like to read an in-depth analysis of the keg distribution system in Ontario, I encourage you to read Ben Johnson’s here.

However, agents perserved. Any import beer you’ve had on tap up to the present day has been technically distributed by one of the above companies, even if their local agent is another entity. A popular agent in Toronto struck a deal with one of the private companies, and their brands on draught are distributed through them. Others have agreed to pay The Beer Store’s listing fees and have brands on tap through them. Some have forgone either of these scenarios in the hopes that the system may change for the better.

Well, almost unbelievably so, perhaps it may be. The LCBO is piloting a new project whereby they will be directly importing small (up to 18L), one-way, recyclyable kegs through their Specialty Services department, which oversees Private Ordering and Consignment, two areas where a significant amount of premium bottled beers are imported through and distributed to agents, and in turn to bars and restaurants.

What does this mean? For one, agents can now request to order these small kegs as they would bottles or cans, bypassing The Beer Store or one of the three other private companies. This cuts out a huge layer of complexity, cost and conflict from the equation and potentially opens the market up for premium imported draught like we haven’t seen in Ontario ever before. Since the current system required a decent amount of volume to make it worthwhile, this new scenario allows for single or small volume keg orders with lower overhead to reach bars and restaurants. That’s not something we’ve ever had in Ontario, except possibly for those who may have attended a Saloon League event.

The potential of this is significant. Agents could theoretically bring in kegs to test the market, without making a larger commitment to a brand on draught as is the case now. Festivals could work with agents to bring in one-off kegs in a way that was otherwise not realistic. Bars and restaurants could work with agents or breweries to bring in seasonal, one-off or other interesting kegs, again something that just wasn’t feasible in the past. Now of course, the kegs need to conform to the LCBO’s outlined packaging standards, but one-way kegs have been increasing in popularity in recent years, presumaby due to ease of shipping and distribution.

We have seen in Ontario over the past number of years small step changes when it comes to the beer marketplace. As this is a pilot with numerous conditions, it is consistent with the philosophy of doing a little bit rather than drastic change. However, it is a step in the right direction to loosen one of Ontario’s most restrictive, complicated and unfair beer practices. That is something worth having a fresh glass of draught to celebrate.

LCBO Autumn Special Releases Revealed

August 5th, 2014 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

Even though we’re still in the prime time of the summer, the LCBO beer releases for autumn have been revealed.  Over 30 beers will be available in LCBO stores across three sets: an Autumn seasonal beer release, a themed Hallowe’en beer release, and a special Mikkeller brewery feature.  Beers will begin arriving around the middle of September, and you can see which tasty treats are coming out via The Bar Towel’s Discussion Forum:

Enjoy!

Amsterdam Brewery & Great Lakes Brewery Collaboration a First in The LCBO

April 24th, 2013 Posted by Beer In The Press, Brewery News, LCBO Releases, New Beer Releases No Comment yet

Maverick and Gose_bottle

MEDIA RELEASE

Amsterdam Brewery and Great Lakes Brewery Collaboration a First in The LCBO

(Toronto, ON, April 24, 2013) – The Amsterdam Brewery and Great Lakes Brewery, two of Toronto’s oldest independently owned and operated craft breweries, are set to release their award winning collaboration beer – “Maverick & Gose” in the LCBO later this month.

Maverick & Gose is a Leipziger Gose Beer that has been aged in Ontario Chardonnay barrels for 4 months prior to packaging. A rare German brew of medieval origin, this 2012 Canadian Brewing Awards Silver Medalist beer is brewed with a mostly malted wheat base, pink Himalayan salt, and spices. Notes of lemon, herbs and a slight saltiness make this collaboration truly unique to Ontario.

What is even more unique about this beer is that it is the first all-Ontario collaboration to be released in the LCBO. Brewers Iain Mcoustra of Amsterdam and Mike Lackey of Great Lakes first developed the recipe for Maverick & Gose in early 2012.

“We came up with the idea whilst playing shirtless, greased up beach volleyball, you know, like in the movie Top Gun, and we thought it would be fitting to collab on this one of a kind beer,” says Lackey. “I’m super pumped to be part of the first Canadian craft beer collaboration that will grace the shelves at the LCBO. It was a pleasure creating this beer with Iain and the Amsterdam crew.”

“We wanted to take an old world style and put our own twist on it by using local Chardonnay barrels” says Mcoustra. “We didn’t want to go over the top with any of the flavours and it’s easy for a spiced beer to get away from you. The barrel brought everything together in the end, balancing out the spices with the salt giving a nice roundness to the finish.”

“It’s always a blast brewing with Lackey and Great Lakes” says Mcoustra of the collaboration. “They’re a big reason why there has been so much collaboration and innovation in Ontario recently and it’s an honour to brew and release this beer with them.”

Maverick & Gose is available for sale in 500mL bottles from select LCBOs starting April 29, 2013 ($6.95) and the Amsterdam Brewery Retail Store (45 Esandar Dr., 416-504-6882).

Amsterdam_logoAbout The Amsterdam Brewery
The Amsterdam Brewery is an independently owned and operated craft brewery that is deeply rooted in the city of Toronto. A pioneer of the craft beer revolution in 1986 and initially called the Amsterdam Brasserie and Brew Pub, The Amsterdam was the first of its kind in Toronto to offer patrons hand crafted lagers and ales that were brewed ‘in-house’. Today they brew over ten different beers including their flagship lager – Amsterdam Natural Blonde, the award winning Big Wheel Deluxe Amber, Boneshaker IPA and multiple year-round and seasonal brews. The Amsterdam Brewing Company uses only traditional brewing methods and their beers are made with four all natural ingredients – malt, hops, yeast, and water. All beers are GMO-free, without preservatives, and never heat pasteurized.

To learn more about the Amsterdam Brewery visit www.amsterdambeer.com
Or
Become a Fan on Facebook www.facebook.com/amsterdambeer
And Follow them on Twitter www.twitter.com/amsterdambeer

GLB-stamp_2About The Great Lakes Brewery
A fiercely independent owned and operated brewery, Great Lakes recently celebrated 25 years in the craft beer business, making them one of the oldest craft breweries in Ontario. Great Lakes specializes in producing flavourful beers that will be sure to tickle your taste buds with each sip. From unique seasonal ales and premium lagers to our Project X and Tank Ten Series beers, we produce a variety of products to be enjoyed by everyone!
Based in Etobicoke, we invite you to visit our brewery for a taste of our award winning beers, including the Canadian Brewing Awards double Gold Medal Winner Crazy Canuck Pale Ale!

To learn more about Great Lakes, visit www.greatlakesbeer.com.
We love social media, so join in on the conversation!
www.twitter.com/greatlakesbeer
www.facebook.com/greatlakesbeer

Westvleteren 12 causing a beer frenzy in Ontario

December 11th, 2012 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

The pending limited-edition retail release of the world famous Westvleteren 12 in Ontario is causing a “beer frenzy” amongst local beer aficionados.  The release, consisting of a six-pack of the beer plus two branded glasses, is selling for $76.85 at the LCBO in selected stores only.

The news that Westvleteren 12, or “Westy”, first hit the beer community in June with a lengthy thread in Bar Towel’s discussion forum.  More recently another thread started up in late November with the discussion about Westy hitting the shelves mid-December.  The discussion in the recent thread has been tracking the stores where Westy will be available, plus accounts of what LCBO stores have been telling customers, some of which is contradictory.  Many stores that are receiving stock are anticipating morning lineups of eager consumers.

The enthusiasm for this beer release is arguably the most anticipated ever in Ontario, so much that yesterday (December 10th) the Bar Towel web site experienced its highest level of single-day traffic for all of 2012.  Other high-profile beer releases through the LCBO in the past include Ola Dubh 40 in 2009, Sam Adams Utopias in 2010 and 2011, and probably the first Ontario beer frenzy, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA in 2008.

This isn’t the first appearance of Westy in Ontario, however, as a couple of years ago a limited amount was distributed to selected bars in the province.  This time, however, is the first time it’s been available for home purchase.

You can stay up-to-date on what’s happening with Westy, and pretty much everything else in the Ontario beer scene, in our discussion forum.  Please join in on the fun, and good luck to everyone hunting Westy this week!

 

BC Beer: May 2012 Releases

May 17th, 2012 Posted by British Columbia, LCBO Releases, New Beer Releases No Comment yet

With the May Two-Four upon us, there’s a couple of unconventional wits to enjoy with the outdoors. First up is the Flying Tanker White IPA, which is a hybrid of the Wit and IPA styles. Vancouver Island Brewing told the Alberni Valley news that “Flying Tanker IPA is the first bottle in our Vancouver Island series to be released — we’ve got a whole series of beers tied to Vancouver Island icons planned”.

Second is Parallel 49 Brewing’s Seedspitter Watermelon Wit. This is their first brew, and they’ve launched it just in time for Vancouver Craft Beer Week. Bottles should be available shortly and they’ve got three other brews that will be available soon.

Tin Whistle Brewing Company has released their new Scorpion Double IPA. They’ve been brewing since 1995, so it’s about time they threw some more hops into the mix… and why not make it a double? This was supposedly a big hit at the Okanagan Fest of Ale, and should be available in BC Liquor stores soon.

Steamworks Brewing Company recently brewed the Copper Roof Ale in honour of the Vancouver Sun’s 100th Anniversary. Check out Randy Shore’s online article and video clip with some good discussion with the brewers.

Speaking of ESBs, Driftwood’s Naughty Hildegard is back. This year they’ve returned to Pacific Northwest hop varieties (the 2011 had UK hops), which I believe make this a truly epic West-Coast ESB. Coincidentally, Pope Benedict has now officially recognized Hildegard von Bingen as a saint.

For those in Ontario, the LCBO’s Tree Brewing feature is starting to hit the shelves. This includes the Hefeweizen, Raspberry Porter, Captivator Doppelbock, Hophead Double IPA and the new Hophead Black IPA. This has already sparked some discussion in the forums. Their Duke’s Cider is on the LCBO shelves as well.

Garrison Brewery Feature Arriving in Ontario

January 25th, 2012 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

The LCBO’s popular Brewery Feature program, which has spotlighted specific breweries such as Dieu du Ciel!Fuller’sNørrebro Bryghus, and Rogue, returns on January 29th with Garrison Brewing of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Garrison Brewing, which has seen their Imperial I.P.A, HopYard Pale Ale and Oktoberfest released over the past couple of years through the LCBO, arrives with a set of five special seasonal beers in this release.

The Brewery Feature will offer the following Garrison beers, available from January 29th to March 30th, or while stock lasts:

  • Black I.P.A., $4.25, 500mL, 6.2% alc./vol. (Gold medal winner at 2012 Canadian Brewing Awards)
  • Winter Warmer, $5.25, 500mL, 6.8% alc./vol. (Silver medal winner at 2009 Canadian Brewing Awards)
  • Spruce Beer, $5.25, 500mL, 7.5% alc./vol.
  • Grand Baltic Porter, $5.95, 500mL, 9.0% alc./vol. (Gold medal winner at 2011 Canadian Brewing Awards)
  • Pils, $4.25, 500mL, 4.7% alc./vol.
As with all Brewery Feature releases, all beers are available in limited quantities, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.  The beers will be available at 25 LCBO stores, which are listed after the break.

BC Beer – January 2012 Releases

January 19th, 2012 Posted by British Columbia, LCBO Releases, New Beer Releases No Comment yet

Last month I mentioned a few new breweries opening this year, but then Hoyne Brewing actually managed to get a few growlers out the door before Christmas! Now they’ve got their Pale Ale and Pilsner bottled, and it’s starting to hit the Private Liquor Store shelves.

Old Yale Brewing has entered into a new partnership and moved to a larger location. Canadian Beer News is reporting that kegs and bottles of the Sasquatch Stout and Sergeant’s IPA are currently available, and we’ll start to see cans of the IPA and Old Yale Pale Ale in February. It’ll certainly be great to have some more hoppy brews available in cans!

Lighthouse Brewing Company has their 6th limited release from their Big Flavour Series. The official press release says this 9% “Belgian Black is fermented with a Belgian Ardennes yeast strain. Enjoy the rich malty features of plum and dark cherry backed with subtle spicy notes”.

Mission Springs Brewing Company is releasing another special brew in bottles on January 30th. “The Strongman Ale” is an 8% Cascadian Strong Ale… this should be interesting.

Phillips has iced a barleywine, pushing the alcohol up to 12%. Thankfully, this so-called Mass Extinction is available in (reasonably-sized) 341 mL bottles.

Granville Island’s Imperial IPA will be on tap next week, and hopefully we’ll start to see some bottles again soon!

Tree Brewing’s Hophead Double IPA is currently available at the brewery. Many Bartowelers will be happy to hear that it just shipped to Ontario as well! You can expect to see it on the LCBO shelves by the end of February. In the mean time, Ontario will have to get their west-coast hop fix from the regular Tree Hop Head, or perhaps Central City’s Red Racer, which just hit the shelves again.

Celebrate Oktoberfest at the LCBO

September 20th, 2011 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

Aside from the Autumn Beer release that is hitting the shelves now, beer lovers in Ontario can also look forward to a special, limited-time Oktoberfest beer release coming in the next week or so.

Three beers are being released as part of this promotion:

  • Garrison Oktoberfest Brau
  • Samuel Adams Octoberfest
  • Paulaner Oktoberfest (with a stein)

As with all LCBO specialty releases, the beers available for Oktoberfest are limited quantity so get them when you can an enjoy the season!

Garrison is represented in Ontario by The Bar Towel.

LCBO Autumn Beers Hit the Shelves

September 20th, 2011 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

As part of the LCBO’s ongoing Specialty Beer program, the following Autumn Beers begun hitting the shelves in the past week:

Item # / Product Name / Alc./ Vol. / Size (mL) / Retail
237693 / Cannery Maple Stout / 5.5 / 650 / $5.80
254656 / Ayinger Celebrator / 7.2 / 330 / $3.45
173658 / Garrison Imperial I.P.A. / 7 / 500 / $4.25
234047 / Bacchus Flemish Old Brown / 4.5 / 375 / $4.50
236091 / Celt Bronze Crafted Ale / 4.5 / 500 / $3.65
233486 / Marston’s Pedgree V.S.O.P. / 6.7 / 500 / $3.50
233494 / Wychwood Goliath / 4.2 / 500 / $3.50
236992 / Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale / 7 / 500 / $4.60
173534 / Southern Tier Choklat / 11 / 650 / $9.85
504670 / Fuller’s 1845 Bottle Conditioned Ale / 6.3 / 500 / $3.50
125153 / Affligem Dubbel / 6.8 / 330 / $2.75
239475 / Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Triple / 9 / 500 / $5.95
244376 / Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique 2011 / 10 / 750 / $9.95
237875 / Box Steam Funnel Blower / 4.5 / 500 / $3.55

As always, the LCBO seasonal beer releases are limited-time and limited-quantity, so get them before they’re gone! And while you’re at it, tell us what you think about the release in our discussion forum!