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


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”

10 ways to cure a hangover in Toronto

Originally published on blogTO on July 5, 2013

Hangover cure Toronto

Given that I so frequently provide guidance on how and where to drink in Toronto, it seems irresponsible that I have yet to provide any advice on how to handle the after effects, namely your hangover.

So, while I don’t provide any guarantees that any of these will actually work for you, the following handful of great local options for the morning (or afternoon) after drinking might just help you fight the pounding in your head and the taste of death in your mouth after your next epic night on the town. As for the stains on your shirt and the shame in your soul, well, you’re on your own. Continue reading “10 ways to cure a hangover in Toronto”

In Toronto Pubs, Breweries Battle for Beer Taps With Persuasion and Cash

This post originally appeared on Torontoist on January 2, 2013.

Beer industry insiders say big breweries spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year trying to influence what your bartender decides to put in the fridge.

Photo by The Nexus, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
Photo by The Nexus, from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

You may think, when you go to a bar, that your choice of beer is entirely yours. But that decision may have been made well before you even put on your drinking pants—and not by the bar owners. According to industry insiders, it’s often the brewers who dictate what’s on tap.

In fact, insiders say, sometimes it’s brewers, not bar owners, who cover the expense of putting in those very tap lines. Because in Toronto, and across Ontario, keg-fridge space is expensive real estate. Continue reading “In Toronto Pubs, Breweries Battle for Beer Taps With Persuasion and Cash”

How Toronto craft beers get on LCBO shelves

An edited version of this post originally appeared on blogTO on March 6, 2012.


The LCBO is about to increase its stock of Toronto craft beer. Coming soon to a liquor store shelves are cans of Kensington Brewing Company’s Augusta Ale and Double Trouble’s Hops and Robbers.

While Toronto beer fans should be excited that we’ll now have a chance to take home a little more local variety from the city’s burgeoning craft beer scene, the accomplishment is all the more admirable when one has a little knowledge of just how daunting the LCBO’s process can be.

Continue reading “How Toronto craft beers get on LCBO shelves”