Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Highs and Woes of the Ontario Craft Beer Industry: Beer News in Review

In a story from today's Toronto Star, thOntario Craft Brewers Opportunity Fund (which provided $8 million annually to Ontario's craft breweries in order to help them compete with the multinational macro-brewing behemoths) has been cut entirely as the government attempts to rein in its deficit.

Now, I understand fiscal responsibility, but $8 million is negligible compared to the Ontario coffers and we certainly don't need more of the very macro-lager-monopolizing that this move will help stimulate by diminishing interesting, local, craft competitors.

Sure, maybe in tough times our governments need not prioritize beer, but what about local small businesses?  Corporate tax cuts for the macro-multinationals presumably amount to far more than $8 million to begin with - though I admit to not having researched any figures.

What I know for sure is that ideas like this one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which would allow beer gardens to open in public parks in order to generate revenue for the government sounds like a great one to me, and one that would more than recoup this cost in order to not only support small businesses (and quality beer) but which would also provide more incentive to go to the park.

I am, of course, kidding slightly, but only slightly, though fears of rampant craft brewery closures in these hard economic times does depress me, as would the resulting unemployment of those who are currently employed by local Ontario businesses.  And to those who would respond that they should then get new jobs at, say, Molson-Coors, aren't you the very same people who have "Buy Canadian" bumper stickers?  What is more 'Canadian' than a locally-owned and sourced business?

I need a beer.

In other, more uplifting beer news, Railway City has released more of their Black Coal Stout, which sold out promptly after its first release and it should have!  I had the opportunity to taste it last night at The Only Cafe and, it is simply delicious!  Full of bitter coffee notes on the tongue alongside some dark chocolate and a chewy-creaminess that makes a beer fan want more!  That said, at 48 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) it is not for the faint of heart, nor those whose idea of coffee is a double-double or who think milk chocolate equals high quality.  It is bold, but damn is it good!  Grade: A-

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