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”

Anthony Rose would like you to stop calling his cuisine “comfort food.”

This article was originally published online and in the print edition of Post City Magazine as “Chef Profile: Anthony Rose, the man behind Rose and Sons and the newly opened Big Crow.” 

(Image: Connie Tsang)

Although he’s become known for upscale versions of the sort of simple fare that’s currently enjoying a moment, Anthony Rose, of Rose and Sons, is hesitant to slap any labels on his dishes. The 40-year-old chef-cum-restaurateur confesses that he has simply always preferred serving the food that he most enjoys making. If people find his food comforting, so be it — just don’t call it comfort food.

“It’s such a bullshit term,” he says. “For me, it’s just the only way I know how to cook. I’ll go out to eat molecular food, but I just don’t know how to do it, and I don’t really want to learn.”

Instead, Rose has taken the upscale approach to classic food that helped him make a name for himself for six years as the executive chef at The Drake Hotel. His first restaurant, Rose and Sons, which opened last year, has already made waves — both good and bad. Continue reading “Anthony Rose would like you to stop calling his cuisine “comfort food.””

A brief history of the first brewery in Toronto

Originally published on blogTO June 27, 2012

Henderson Brewery Toronto

The history of Toronto is closely tied to beer, and while there are varying stories about the exact date and location of the city’s first brewery (and a requisite bit of mystery), virtually all are in agreement that there was a brewery very early in the city’s history.

As the population in Ontario began to spread from early settlements such as the one in Kingston, beer was initially brought over with other supplies like pork and butter on ships from Kingston, the Bay of Quinte, and Niagara.

A letter dated 1801 from a Reverend John Stuart to the Bishop of Nova Scotia, however, makes reference to a brewer from Kingston “removed to York lately” who had obtained a vessel to “transport wheat and other Grain from Kingston and the Bay of Quinte, before beer could be made.”

Who that brewer may have been, and where he may have been plying his trade, however, is not clear. Continue reading “A brief history of the first brewery in Toronto”

Inside Still Waters Distillery

This post originally appeared on BlogTO on May 2, 2012

Still Waters Distillery

Barry Stein and Barry Bernstein, co-founders of Still Waters Distillery, are playing a waiting game. Because Canadian liquor laws require that Canadian whisky is aged at least three years before it can be sold, the duo, operating a small micro-distillery in Concord, Ontario, are patiently waiting for the day that their single malt, rye, and corn whiskies will be ready for sale.

Their oldest whiskies, casked in late 2009, won’t be ready until the end of this year, so until then, they wait. In the meantime, however, the duo has hardly been sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

While they’ve been waiting on their whiskies, they’ve distilled an award-winning single malt vodka. Unique in that it’s essentially distilled from the same spirits they use to make their whisky (then put through the still once more and filtered), Still Waters’ malt vodka is incredibly smooth and retains a semi-sweet malt flavour. I had no problem sampling the product early in the afternoon on an empty stomach, but you don’t have to take my word for it: Still Waters Single Malt Vodka was awarded a gold medal at the 2011 Spirits International Prestige (SIP) Awards competition in San Diego, California — a blind tasting judged by consumers.

Continue reading “Inside Still Waters Distillery”