Posts in LCBO Releases

You’ll Love Canada (and HopYard)

June 3rd, 2011 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

As part of a new LCBO promotion entitled I Love Canada, a great beer from the East Coast is being released for a limited time.

Arriving from Garrison Brewing is HopYard Pale Ale.  This beer, which made its debut last year and won a silver at the Canadian Brewing Awards (North American Style Pale Ale/Bitter), is a west coast style ale that is dry-hopped.  It will be making its retail debut in Ontario and follows Imperial I.P.A. as the 2nd Garrison beer hitting the shelves in the province.  Garrison is represented in Ontario by The Bar Towel.

HopYard Pale Ale will be available in 6-packs of bottles for $13.95.  The I Love Canada promotion begins June 19th and runs through mid-July and also features a number of breweries from the Ontario Craft Brewers.

(Note: As previously reported Central City Red Racer IPA is expected to be released at the LCBO as well, but might not coincide exactly with this promotion.  Specifics will be posted as they are confirmed.)

LCBO Summer Beers Coming in May

April 12th, 2011 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

The LCBO has announced their Summer Beer seasonal release, hitting the shelves beginning the week of May 22nd:

  • Lindeman’s Kriek (355mL, $5.95)
  • Lindeman’s Cuvee Rene Gueuze (355mL, $6.45)
  • Great Lakes Green Tea Ale (650mL, $4.95)
  • Dieu du Ciel! Rosee d’Hibiscus (341mL, $3.10)
  • Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Blanche (500mL, $3.85)
  • Brasseurs de Montreal Coeur Brise Raspberry (341mL, $2.85)
  • Trafalgar Cherry Ale (650mL, $4.50)
  • Schneider Organic Wiesen Edel-Weisse (500mL, $3.25)
  • Schofferhofer Hefeweizen (500mL, $2.50)
  • Christoffel Bier (330mL, $2.85)
  • Wells and Young’s Banana Bread Beer (500mL, $3.50)
  • Dark Star Sunburst Golden Ale (500mL, $3.45)
  • Celt Golden Crafted Ale (500mL, $3.45)
  • Samuel Smith’s Organic Raspberry Ale  (550mL, $5.50)
  • Badger Golden Champion Ale (500mL, $3.50)
  • Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew (500mL, $3.25)
  • Southern Tier 2XIPA (355mL, $2.95)

There are a number of interesting beers in this release, including a few debuts in the Ontario market.  Let us know what you think and discuss this release in The Bar Towel’s Forum!

Rogue Brewery Feature Coming in June

March 18th, 2011 Posted by LCBO Releases, New Beer Releases No Comment yet

The next LCBO Brewery Feature, the successful program whereby a number of beers from a single brewery are debuted simultaneously, will be Rogue from Newport, Oregon.

Rogue is the first American brewery to be a part of the LCBO’s program, which has in the past featured Dieu du Ciel!, Harviestoun and most recently Norrebro.  Rogue, one of the most well-known craft breweries in the United States, is no stranger to Ontario having had various beers released in the province over the years.

The following beers will be a part of the Brewery Feature:

  • Double Dead Guy Ale
  • Chipotle Ale
  • Brutal Bitter
  • Northwestern Ale
  • Morimoto Soba Ale
  • Orange Honey Ale

The Rogue Brewery Feature will hit select LCBO stores at the end of June.

LCBO Spring Specialty Release On the Shelves

March 12th, 2011 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

The LCBO’s spring specialty beer release is out in full force, with a solid lineup of beers from Canada and the world.  Included in this release are:

  • Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor ($3.05, 330mL)
  • Grand River Curmudgeon IPA ($3.50, 500mL)
  • Amsterdam Springbock ($3.95, 500mL)
  • Trafalgar Maple Bock ($4.50, 650mL)
  • Tree HopHead Double IPA ($5.35, 650mL)
  • Great Lakes Orange Peel Ale ($4.95, 650mL)
  • Doppel Hirsch Doppel Bock ($3.75, 500mL)
  • Skjalfti Premium Lager ($3.95, 500mL)
  • Panil Barriquee Sour ($14.00, 750mL)
  • Hitachino Nest White Ale ($3.75, 330mL)
  • Christoffel Dry-hopped Nobel ($3.05, 330mL)
  • Marston’s Old Empire IPA ($3.65, 500mL)
  • Southern Tier Gemini ($9.00, 650mL)

Many beers are making their retail debuts in Ontario.  They are on the shelves at LCBOs now and as this is a one-time release, when they are gone, they are gone.  Join in on the discussion of this release in the forum and let us know your opinions on this release!

Sam Adams Infinium Hitting LCBO Soon

February 3rd, 2011 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

Samuel Adams Infinium, another product in an aggressive Ontario strategy which features quarterly seasonal releases and the recent, incredibly successful Utopias lottery, is hitting the LCBO in the coming week.

Infinium, a unique beer made in collaboration with the Weihenstephan brewery in Germany, will only see 200 cases available in Ontario.  Packaged in a foil-top 750mL bottle, the beer will sell for $14.95 at LCBOs.  It is being distributed to a very select number of stores, under 20 stores in total.  The stores that will be receiving Infinium are listed after the break.

Join in on the conversation about Sam Adams’ recent foray into the Ontario market in our Discussion Forum.


Nørrebro Coming to LCBO in Early February

January 30th, 2011 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

Following last year’s LCBO Brewery Features of Dieu du Ciel! and Harviestoun, the first feature of 2011 is about to hit the shelves.  Nørrebro Bryghus, the acclaimed brewery from Copenhagen, Denmark, will see five of their beers released in 25 LCBO stores starting the first week of February.

The lineup of Nørrebro coming to stores is very exciting: Bombay Pale Ale (600 mL, $7.50), Julebryg (600 mL, $7.50), Vartripel 2010 (600 mL, $9.35), La Granja Stout (600 mL, $10.15) and Little Korkny Ale (600 mL, $21.95).  The selection represents a great diversity of styles, from pale ale to Belgian-style tripel and barley wine.  Of note is the La Granja Stout, of which this batch is brewed with Ontario maple syrup from Frank Higgins in Combermere and being exclusively sold in the province.  All of the beers are making their in-store debut in Ontario with this release.

Danish beers have been growing in popularity over the last few years – in 2009 beerbistro hosted a memorable Danish beer dinner featuring Nørrebro and Mikkeller, with Anders Kissmeyer of Nørrebro (pictured on the right) in attendance.  These breweries have been at the forefront of a Danish craft beer movement featuring bold and interesting products, and now Ontario beer drinkers can try some for themselves.

The Brewery Feature program is a quarterly initiative of the LCBO to highlight a specific brewery in a limited number of stores.  The stores that the Nørrebro will be available at are listed after the jump.  You can discuss this feature and other beery topics in our Discussion Forum.


Utopias Lottery Coming Up

December 20th, 2010 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

In what might be the first offering of its kind in Ontario, the LCBO will offer the hotly-anticipated Sam Adams Utopias by way of random draw.

The LCBO has 70 bottles (710 mL) of Utopias and it will sell for $114.95 per bottle. In order to ensure fairness for consumers, the LCBO will be taking orders by phone and online only – it will never see the store shelf.

The LCBO will accept orders starting January 6, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on January 13, 2011.  Only one order/bottle per customer will be allowed.  Orders randomly selected will be confirmed by either telephone or email on or after January 17, 2011 and shipped to the LCBO store of the customer’s choice at no extra charge.

Interested consumers can submit their order at the Vintages Direct Sales Online form or via phone at 416 365-5767, or toll free 1-800-266-4764, Monday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The 70 bottles will be assigned by random draw.  This is the same process that the LCBO uses to offer rare, limited-edition wines through Vintages – but to my knowledge it has never been done for beer before.  Good luck everyone!

A Perfect Winter Beer

December 8th, 2010 Posted by LCBO Releases No Comment yet

Eisbock is one of the legendary styles of Ontario craft brewing – which would be quickly known by those who have been drinking in the province for a while.

For those who might not know, there was a brewery once called the Niagara Falls Brewing Company. At the time, although I was a young beer connoisseur then, I was terribly impressed with their beer lineup. Here’s a decade-old obituary on The Bar Towel chronicling some of the beers they had back in the 90s.  They made fruit beers, bold beers and even the strongest beer in Canada at the time. But that’s not all.

Their highlight was undoubtedly Eisbock. This was a pretty impressive brew, a beer with bold intentions at a time where unique, premium and fame-seeking beers were not as common. Eisbock was vintage dated, came in a 750mL bottle, had a new label every year, cost more than others and even had a super-premium boxed version called Eisbock Gold. It was one of the first eisbocks brewed in North America, a beer ahead of its time and even caught the attention of Michael Jackson in his Pocket Guide to Beer. Neither Niagara Falls Brewery nor Eisbock exists anymore – but they will be remembered as a pioneering brewery and a landmark beer in Ontario craft history.

I’m reminiscing here for a couple of reasons. What made Niagara Falls Eisbock so interesting (besides the sheer uniqueness of it being made in Ontario) was that eisbock was, and continues to be, a very rare style. Eisbock (sometimes written as Ice Bock) is a German lager where water is frozen and removed during the brewing process (as water freezes before alcohol) thereby creating a more concentrated flavour and stronger beer. It is very rare in the world – BeerAdvocate lists only 30 eisbocks in their database – compare that to the 1,825 American IPAs. It’s not easy to find, which made Niagara’s Eisbock special in its day.

But in Ontario, as part of the LCBO’s Winter Warmers release, we have an eisbock available, one of the best in the world, and we’ve had it each winter for a number of years now. It truly is a gem and a beer that many might not realize how special it is to have this delicious brew here.

It is Schneider Aventinus Weizen Eisbock, a classic dark, rich and boozy eisbock. On their web site the brewery is modest, calling the beer “Stronger than strong” and having “Powerful aromas and an intense flavor”. That’s an understatement. It’s a real treat for the winter months – fruity, warming and delicious.

But the rarity and flavour are just a couple of reasons to get it. Another one is that it is available for $3.70 for a 500mL bottle, which is an absolutely scorching deal. In the U.S. you would find this beer for multiple times that price, often for for a smaller bottle. If you want to see the buying power of the LCBO, look no further. This beer is dirt cheap for what you’re getting.

And lastly, this is one beer that you couldn’t even get in every province in Canada. Just recently news came down that Alberta would no longer be accepting beers that are over 11.9% alcohol. This is certainly short-sighted and craft beer ignorant of the province, but as Schneider’s Weizen Eisbock clocks in at 12%, it wouldn’t make the cut in Alberta.

So go out and pick up a Schneider Weizen Eisbock. It’s a style that nods to Ontario’s craft beer history, a beer that is a great interpretation of this rare style, is rich and warming for winter, an incredible value and something that not everyone could get their hands on. Enjoy it.

A Case for Rarity

November 25th, 2010 Posted by Brewery News, LCBO Releases No Comment yet

Scotch whisky lovers love rarity. Characteristics such as age marking, unusual special editions and unique casking are all part of whisky lore. Drinkers seek out unique products from interesting places and they are especially savoured. In the beer world, parallels to this are evident due to the similarity of the drinks and mindset of connoisseurs. Although not applicable to all beers, more and more feature age marking, barrel-aging, unique ingredients and general ‘one-offness’.  And although certainly not unique to beer and whisky, the rarer and more interesting tends to be much more desirable.

With all this in mind, it’s little wonder these two worlds – Scotch whisky and beer – have collided. The Harviestoun brewery of Scotland has married the two, with great success internationally and now in Ontario. But the five kinds of Ola Dubh, a beer matured in Highland Park whisky casks now available at the LCBO, is an interesting story of rarity.

In winter 2009, the LCBO as part of their Winter Warmers release offered Ola Dubh 12, a strong dark ale aged in casks formerly used to mature Highland Park 12 Year Old Scotch whisky. This made beer connoisseurs in Ontario excited, but even more so was the news that Ola Dubh 40, aged in 40 year old casks, was coming too. Now this got beer lovers going.

The Ola Dubh 12, as it was part of the seasonal release, had a few thousand bottles hit the shelves. The 40, on the other hand, had only 30 cases come to the province, and with an error of logistics, 2/3 of that went to a single store in Toronto. The uniqueness of the products and the enthusiasm for both of them set off a frenzy, with beer lovers searching for them and posting their findings, or frustrations, up on The Bar Towel’s Forum.

Now this is not the first time that beer lovers have gotten excited about a new beer hitting the province. In 2006, when Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA arrived, connoisseurs went after it with vigour. And recently in early 2010, Black Oak’s new 10 Bitter Years sold out quickly, just from sales at brewery.  The beer lovers in Ontario seek out the good finds, no question.

Back to the Ola Dubh. The 40, even selling at an unheard-of $18.95 per 330mL bottle (possibly the most expensive single bottle of beer ever sold at retail in Ontario), vanished. And this haloed to the 12, although having more availability, disappeared in a flash. I even found myself caught up in the frenzy – after seeing some bottles of 12 at Summerhill I was told by an LCBO employee that it would not last. So I bought some, feeling lucky to have had the privilege. The Ola Dubh 40 sold out so quickly and with such buzz that the LCBO ordered 100 more cases, which eventually arrived in spring 2010.

This obviously opened the eyes of the LCBO to Ola Dubh and they wanted to capitalize. They chose Harviestoun to be the winter Brewery Feature, a program whereby a single brewery has a series of beers released for a limited time only in a select number of stores. The first Brewery Feature in early autumn was Dieu du Ciel!, and the Harviestoun Feature offered all five expressions of Ola Dubh – 12 Year Old, 16, 18, 30 and 40, with prices ranging from $5.95 for the 12 up to $18.95 for the 40. Ola Dubh would be back, and in a big way.

According to the LCBO stock of Ola Dubh 40, there are presently over 1,900 bottles available in Ontario, a far cry from the 30 cases a year ago. And there are plenty of bottles available of the other expressions as well. This is great news for beer fans of all kinds, from budding to experienced, as they can easily try the fantastic Ola Dubh expressions this holiday season.

But the frenzy seen a year ago has certainly subsided. Ola Dubh isn’t the rare find it was, but a beer easily found with the help of the LCBO’s online stock system. That begs the question, does rarity make for a more desirable beer? Definitely. Does it make for a better beer? Not necessarily, but it does make for a more interesting one. Does rarity make for good business? It does seem that way, as Ola Dubh’s two-brand limited release turned into a full brewery feature a year later. The rarity of Ola Dubh in 2009 was newsworthy and exciting for the serious beer crowd. But the availability of Ola Dubh in 2010 is good for all beer drinkers, even though it might be a bit less talk-worthy.

Rare products in both the Scotch whisky and beer worlds have been proven sellers for years, which can sometimes translate into perceived quality. After all, the #1 beer in the world according to RateBeer and BeerAdvocate, is a notoriously difficult to acquire drink. Unique, rare and desirable beers seem to be a more common occurrence at LCBO (just wait for the upcoming Sam Adams Utopias). But breweries might be wise to maintain a strategy of rarity with certain products (it seems the last batch of 10 Bitter Years didn’t quite sell as quickly).  Rare beers of premium quality get beer enthusiasts excited and create news.  Beers that are just as premium but not as rare allow all drinkers to enjoy easily.  It’s great to see more of both in Ontario.