The Sad State of Beer in Ontario
I went to Florida back in November and ever since then I’ve just been more and more frustrated about the state of beer in a country that’s supposed to be known for it. As you probably know, in Florida (and most states I believe) you can buy macrobrew beer at basically any convenience store or grocery store, and there are many specialty stores that sell local and international microbrew beer. We passed a gas station that had a sign boasting over 100 microbrews.
Coming back to Ontario I couldn’t help but notice the lack of choice. I’m restricted to buying beer from either the LCBO, The Beer Store, or breweries themselves. Not only that, but the selection is poor. The LCBO near me has one tiny aisle for local and international microbrew beer, and The Beer Store carries only a few brands of craft beer (not surprising considering that it’s owned by BRI – Brewer’s Retail International – a conglomerate of AB InBev, MolsonCoors, and Sapporo). /r/beer has really introduced me to a lot of quality of beers. Except that I can’t my hands on any of them. And it’s not like I’m out in the sticks, I live in the 8th largest city in Canada.
Because of this ridiculous set up I’ve been boycotting BRI brands whenever possible. These brands make up probably 95% of what’s available not only in the LCBO and The Beer Store, but also in many bars and restaurants who have struck licensing deals with Molson or Labatt (each owned by a larger international company). I went to an authentic-looking pub in Burlington last night and had a short conversation with our server that really pinpointed the situation.
Me: Do you have Steam Whistle? (A pilsner brewed in Toronto, about 40 minutes away)
Me: How about anything by Cameron’s? (A brewery in Oakville, maybe 4 or 5 highway exits away).
Me: Do you have anything that’s brewed around here?
I’m not really sure why I’m posting this except to get it off my chest and maybe motivate other Ontario residents to start getting mad about the state of beer in this province. Not only are we treated like children, we’re treated like dumb children. Half of the oligopoly on beer is owned by three foreign companies. Nearly all of our macrobrew beer that we’re supposed to be so proud of is owned by foreign companies (with the exception of Moosehead). We’re supposed to be thinking globally and acting locally, but when we buy these macro brew beers we’re funnelling our money into the pockets of huge international corporations and not our neighbours. The concept of eating local food is everywhere these days, but where’s the support for local beer? Where’s the support for choice?