Tag Archives: LCBO

The Beer Store & Bad PR: Kill the Thrill

I normally don’t post too much on local news, but this…this was a bit too tempting to resist. And the thing that started it all made me so annoyed, that rather than just rant on social media, I decided to take it to this site to get everything in one place.

So if you’re just joining us, here in Ontario there is a bit of a debate going on between The Beer Store and the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) over selling beer and wine in convenience stores. The Beer Store, owned by Molson-Coors, Labatt, and Sleeman, are, aside from Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores, the only other place you can buy beer in the province of Ontario. Since it’s owned by three mega-beer corporations, you can probably take a wild guess as to what kind of beers you’re most likely to find there and you’d be right to assume that if you’re a small brewer who wants shelf space at their stores, you will not be able to afford it.

So the OCSA wants to open up the market and allow selling of beer and wine in convenience stores. The Beer Store, obviously enjoying the profits it makes on being pretty much the only game in town, is understandably doing everything in their power to make sure that doesn’t happen. And so, The Beer Store had a few meetings and Ontario Beer Facts was born, “Providing Ontarians with important facts on the consequences of selling beer, wine and hard liquor at corner stores and gas stations.”. The problem is that the facts they give…well, they aren’t really facts. Any points they give can mostly be slapped away by the OCSA or anyone at all who decides to take five minutes to look in to both organizations. Nevertheless, they still trudge on, taking advantage of people’s fear and stupidity as they move ahead. One such move on their part has been particularly offensive.

So above is an ad that The Beer Store just put out, showing the careless Convenience store clerk knowingly selling alcohol to minors. It’s an ad that harkens back to late-80s-early-90s PSAs about drug use and if it wasn’t officially backed by The Beer Store, I’d think it was a joke made by a parody account. The underlying point the video was trying to make was “You can not trust shopkeepers to sell this stuff. The Beer Store’s employees are specially trained so they can sell alcohol responsibly”. Which ok, I can see how that might be a good point to go with…but what if we made it so Ontario shopkeepers who want to sell alcohol in their stores be required to get SmartServe Certification? No one serving drinks in the province can work without one and the penalties for violating are harsh enough for shopkeepers to not want to even chance it. It’s a good response and one that Beer Store President Ted Moroz can’t quite answer back with anything.

Bottom line: No one is taking this new ad seriously at all and there are many people who are actively boycotting The Beer Store because of it’s blatant attempt at fearmongering to keep their profits flowing. If that makes you angry, good. It should make you angry. 



So with that busted, the OCSA should have it pretty easy PR-wise, but…well, they’re being kind of disappointing. They have so many things on their side: family-owned business, an active support of local Ontario wines and beers, actual FACTS…but they aren’t using them, instead taking the time to snark on The Beer Store for being wrong, and that’s it. I voiced my frustration and asked questions to the OCSA and was asked to call them, but…I’m just annoyed because I shouldn’t have to call them. I shouldn’t have to dig for answers to detailed questions because they should be shouting them out to whoever will listen as their opposing argument.

In the end, we’re left in the middle of a PR mudfight between two Ontario giants and the only reason people are going with the OCSA is because they aren’t The Beer Store. I’m just suggesting that people should be going with the OCSA because they very clearly offer ________ and _________ and some ________. I suppose I’ll dig and let you folks know how it went.

In the meantime, for more amazing coverage on this debate, read Toronto writer Ben Johnson’s posts on the topic and check out Sun columnist Jordan St. John’s blog for updates. Jordan recently got sick of the commissioned reports brought out by both sides and actually got the ball rolling on an independent survey.

In the meantime, let the message stand to not trust bad PR. Call them out on it. Ask questions. Show them that you aren’t an idiot.



Filed under news

It’s Over – The Westvleteren XII Craze

Well. Wow. So.

For those not in the know, the very rare and (supposedly) best beer in the world was released in Ontario LCBOs today. Westvleteren XII, previously only available in the St Sixtus Abbey in Belgium, upped production and came out with limited box sets in order to raise funds for renovations to the abbey and sent them out. Ontario snagged quite a few and, thanks to a Toronto Star article by Josh Rubin, the buzz was huge. The LCBO was hazy on when they’d actually be releasing the beer out in to their stores so many people, myself included, got in extra early throughout the week to check in.

And today it was released at a few stores. Thanks to Mike for letting me know that the store I was heading to wouldn’t have it today which led to me going to a location that did. There were over 150 people lining up and only 120 boxes. The line was huge and my hands were numb from waiting outside in the cold for 40 minutes. But hey, I’m no wimp when it comes to lines. I’m a veteran of the last Harry Potter book release (second in line) and many anticipated movies. To the people who moaned about this wait, I laugh at you.


And once the doors were open it all went so quickly. Staff were at the doors handing off a box to each person who came in until they were all gone.  According to the store manager they sold out within four minutes. And considering each set, which included six bottles of the rare brew and two souvenir glasses, costed about $76.85, that means that particular store made $9222 in four minutes. Cripes.

westcheersAnd I got mine, which was fun. I can now cross this beer off of my Bucket List of beers I have to try. I already had one of the beers and the rest will most likely go in to the cellar to be aged for a few years.

The bottle is gorgeous and so is the glass (will definitely be using it for a while). The beer itself is pretty young, with a HUGE alcohol burn cutting through the sweetness (not unexpected since it’s about 10.5% ABV), but once it warms up a bit some nice notes of dried fruit and a hint of vanilla kick in. It’s a very pleasant beer and one that I think will benefit from a couple of years of ageing. Worth the price? I’ll let you know in a couple of years. But I’m not disappointed by this beer. It really is a delight.

LCBO stores will still be trickling them out this week, but for me the hunt is over and I’m looking forward to some good times with this rare brew.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m still thawing from that wait. Brr…


Filed under Uncategorized

A Spring Reminder: Relax!

Phew. It’s been a hell of a day spent in the garden. I’ve been clearing up all the weeds and branches from the house behind us. Doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that the backyard has been a freakin’ MESS for years, you’ll know that it’s rough going. Especially since I’ve been doing all this labour in 25°C (that’s pretty warm for us Canadians).

So after lots of cuts from the branches, sore muscles from cutting and pulling and an injured foot with an event involving a tree stump that I’d rather not get in to, I’m done for the day. I want a beer to just relax with. Something with a nice flavour, but something I don’t have to think too much about. Sadly, my local store (LCBO Store # 242 : BRIMLEY & EGLINTON for any LCBO people reading) has an incredibly crappy beer selection. It’s more than 3/4ths Molson, Bud Light, Colt 40 and the connoisseur’s favourite, Bud Lime.

But every once in a while I get surprised and see the odd drink that sticks out. In this case it was a six pack of Liberty Ale from San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Co. I’ve tried their Steam Beer, which I rather liked, but this was the first time the Liberty Ale, created in 1975 on the bicentennial of Paul Revere’s famous horse ride, had come to the province of Ontario. At least the first time I’ve noticed. I wasn’t sure about it, and asked a few people on twitter who just said “get it” and so…I got it. Of course I did.

And you know what? It hit the spot for my tired, achey and sweaty self. It’s a nice showcase of the Cascade hop and has a wonderful malt backbone that creates a bit of a balance. I poured it in to a snifter (as some had suggested), sat on the porch and just…enjoyed it. Even zoned out for a little. It was really nice.

So the point of this post was a little more than a beer suggestion. More to say that beer tasting doesn’t have to be SERIOUS BUSINESS all the time. A good thing to do is just crack open an old favourite or a new experiment beer, sit back and just let the world roll off you a bit.

Right, I’m going back to the porch.

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Filed under Currently Drinking, Tips