‘Contract’ brewing boom in Ontario stokes debate over future of craft beer

This item originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on July 6th, 2017.

Craft beer in Ontario is booming – there are an estimated 216 craft breweries in Ontario and roughly 120 more that will open soon.

However, this boom has also given rise to a number of craft breweries that aren’t actually breweries at all. You won’t find their address on any walking brewery tours, and you can’t stop in for a sample and a chat with the brewer, because these businesses, known as “contract breweries,” ostensibly rent space from larger, established breweries to make their beer. They often pay a brewmaster to develop recipes, then use host breweries to package and store their beer. Depending on the contract, the brewery can brew and package the beer, or the facility is simply rented to companies which brew the beer themselves.

At one time, they were something of a rarity in the province – two “virtual breweries” opened here every year from 2010 to 2012 – but the number of these companies has skyrocketed in the past couple of years to almost 70, according to the industry news site, Ontario Beverage Network.

It’s a less expensive way to enter the business by skipping the costs associated with real estate, and some posit that contract brewing has flourished because more people see it as an opportunistic way to make a buck in a growing market. Continue reading “‘Contract’ brewing boom in Ontario stokes debate over future of craft beer”

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Five Ways Your Workplace is Killing You

This article appeared in the February 2016 issue of Venture Cover magazine. 

WorkplaceKillingYou

“This job is killing me.”

During a tough day at work you might just find yourself muttering this at your desk… Although this statement is, at its core, a grossly dramatic expression of frustration or exhaustion, studies show that it could actually be true.

A startling amount of research suggests that much of the activity the average person engages in at the work place can be considered detrimental to their health. However, there are many ways to ward off the workplace reaper. Fear not! Here are five ways your job might be trying to kill you, and how you can stop it.

  1. Your chair is making you fat. When you factor in time spent on the couch at home, people with desk jobs are on their butts about nine hours a day. As you can imagine, that’s not great for your health. In fact, researchers have found that people with “sitting jobs” have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease and an increased chance of diabetes.

What you can do: Get up! Make a point of leaving your desk at least once an hour. Be sure to set yourself a timer so you don’t miss your standing break because you are engrossed in your coworkers’ funny forwarded emails. Better yet, inquire about the possibility of obtaining a standing desk in your office! Your heart, and your waistline, will benefit. Continue reading “Five Ways Your Workplace is Killing You”

Professionalism and Social Media

This article appeared in the October edition of the Ontario Dental Assistants Association Journal, the organization’s exclusive member publication that is published three times a year for 8,000+ ODAA members.

We’ve all done it. You get home from a particularly exhausting day, turn on the computer to check Facebook, maybe pour yourself a glass of wine, and you end up venting some of your frustrations about the day you’ve just had.

Harmless right?

Well maybe not.

It certainly wasn’t in the case of Kaitlyn Walls, a 27 year-old in Dallas, Texas who was fired because of something she wrote on Facebook before she even had a chance to start her new job. Walls posted, “I start my new job today, but I absolutely hate working at day cares.” Someone who knew Walls’ prospective employer shared her status update, and as a result, the single-mom saw her job offer rescinded—all because of what she says was venting after a frustrating day.

And while Walls’ case might seem extreme, it’s just one more example of how easily social media, and our perceived “private” lives online, can have an effect on our jobs.

Facebook—and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and whatever thing was probably just invented while I wrote this sentence—can actually get us into trouble precisely because of the the things we like about them: Using social media allows us to be ourselves and to share our thoughts and feelings with people. But that sharing can often be problematic.

Consider the case of Ashley Payne, a teacher from Georgia who was fired because of a photograph of her that was posted to social media in which she is holding a glass of wine and a beer while on vacation in Europe. Payne is now in a legal battle to get her job back but the example proves that even things you say and do on social media in your own time can be considered in the context of employment. Continue reading “Professionalism and Social Media”

Semi-important question: what do 2014’s mayoral candidates like to drink?

This originally appeared on Toronto Life’s website on April 15, 2014.

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We might not typically judge a candidate for public office based on his or her drink of choice, but considering how much we know about our current mayor’s drinking preferences—whether it be a few beers at a Leafs game, an early-morning bottle of brandy at his office, or just a few Iceberg vodkas and Tropicana grape juices with an old friend in the park—it seems only fair that we ask those who seek to unseat Rob Ford what beverages they turn to after a hard day of arguing about who did or didn’t actually save the city a billion dollars.

Sure, there are far more important issues, but there’s also something to be said for getting the candidates off their scripted talking points. There are few things more personal than how someone chooses to unwind.

And so, with that in mind, here’s what the top contenders for mayor like to drink, along with some wild speculation about what their choices say about how they might govern if they win. Continue reading “Semi-important question: what do 2014’s mayoral candidates like to drink?”

The foreign brewers who own The Beer Store may be price-gouging Ontario bar and restaurant owners

This post originally appeared on Toronto Life’s website on February 18, 2014

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Coors Light, Budweiser and Molson Canadian aren’t particularly pricey brands of beer—unless you own a bar or restaurant in Ontario. For the province’s tens of thousands of liquor licensees, these premium beer brands come at huge markup.

Take a case of Canadian. For a restaurant or bar, a two-four costs a staggering $44.75, about 30 per cent more than its retail price of $34.95. Labatt Blue, inexplicably, costs almost 50 per cent more than the retail price. This would be strange, but not necessarily fishy, if the markups were consistent across beer brands, but they’re not. With few exceptions, the markups apply exclusively to brands produced byMolson-Coors, AB InBev and Sapporo. Those are the three foreign-owned mega-breweries who ownThe Beer Store and have a virtual monopoly on beer sales in Ontario.

 The issue came to light last month, when the Canadian Restaurants and Foodservices Associationraised the price discrepancy to members of Ontario’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. The CFRA is determined to keep raising the issue until they get a satisfactory answer. So far, there’s been no answer at all. “CRFA has never been offered an explanation for why the owners of The Beer Store decided to charge Ontario licensees more than the general public for their products,” says Jamie Rilett, vice president of CFRA Ontario. Continue reading “The foreign brewers who own The Beer Store may be price-gouging Ontario bar and restaurant owners”

Five Rob Ford-inspired Halloween costumes that your hipster friends haven’t thought of yet

This originally appeared on PostCity.com on October 24, 2013

Rob Ford has been the mayor of Toronto for close to three years now, and in that time he’s been lambasted, lampooned and ridiculed by the best of them. So if you’re looking to have a little fun at the mayor’s expense this Halloween, you’re going to need to be original. In short, it’s time to step up your Rob Ford costume game.

The days of buying an XXXL suit off the rack at a second-hand store, filling it with pillows and painting your face burst-capillary red are over. Not to worry though, I’ve got you covered. Here are five great Rob Ford costume ideas that will make you the hit of any martini-sipping lefty shindig.

1. The Missing iPhone

This is arguably the key piece in a long, embarrassing saga that’s brought international attention to the city, so why not dress as the alleged missing alleged iPhone that allegedly contains an alleged video of the mayor allegedly smoking what allegedly looks like crack? It’s a terrifying apparition that might end any number of careers should it some day appear, and it’s surely caused more than a few terrified sleepless nights for the mayor (allegedly). If you really want to go the extra mile, only show your costume to Toronto Star reporters, then disappear forever!

How to reject requests for charity

This was originally published in issue number 5 of Mr. Happy Magazine (NSFW)

Mr. Happy

If you live and/or work in downtown Toronto, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually run into what is surely one of the most stressful and potentially traumatic experiences one can have in a big city, namely, being asked to donate to charity.

Charities are everywhere these days–on street corners, organizing campaigns through your office, and even obnoxiously organizing public runs and walks so they can ram their self-righteous agendas right down your dang throat.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for charity, except for when it involves me giving away money and/or things that are mine–because if I give them to someone else then they aren’t mine anymore, and I hate that.

Instead, I’ve developed three foolproof strategies to rejecting requests for charity so that I might be able to hang on to that which I’ve worked somewhat hard at earning instead of giving it to some organization that would squander it on something dumb like a book or a glass of water or a protector that keeps flies out the eyes of small children. In case you too are sick of all the requests for handouts, here are my tips. Continue reading “How to reject requests for charity”