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The Beer Store, Ontario

by Sam Corbeil
(Beer Delegate, ON, Canada)

The Beer Store: beer retailing in Ontario is in a bad way

The Beer Store: beer retailing in Ontario is in a bad way

RANT ON: The Beer Store, Ontario

In Ontario we are pretty much relegated to buying whatever The Beer Store and LCBO has on stock at the time. The Beer Store may tout the fact that they have 300-and-some-odd different types of beer for sale, but for the most part that's just a bunch of hogwash.

And another thing about The Beer Store! I can't count how many times I walked into different beers stores across the city, took my time scouring the wall of labels looking for something different, something new and exciting, finally find one, only to be told that they don't have it in stock.

Many times I had to revert to my third and fourth choices! What kind of way is that to run a business? But what does it matter to The Beer Store? They are a fucking monopoly! And since they have no real competition, they don't really care. It's ridiculous. It's pathetic. It's Ontario.


The LCBO has done a good job picking up the slack. They seem genuinely interested in supplying different beers from around the world to the beer consumers of Ontario.

Their shelves seem, more and more, to be stocked with some interesting beers from fascinating places around the globe, with new releases seemingly popping up each month. They still have a long way to go: for evidence, just pop into any LCBO and see how many of the imports are again just lagers from other parts of the world... but at least they are trying.

The price point may be different from The Beer Store, which maybe part of the reason that The Beer Store doesn't stock to many imports or Micros, but again that is just our wonderful government at work.

Now don't quote me on this, but I've been told that on a percentage basis, Canada is the second highest taxed country in the world when it comes to beer and liquor. WTF? I can see the argument in that I would gladly pay a little more for beer and liquor if it means I get free health care, but come on. It's getting ridiculous.

Anyhoo, enough of the ranting and raving. Truth is, if you want to find good beer there are many options available to you. Especially here in Toronto.

You can visit many of the local Craft and Micros across the GTA and purchase directly from them. Mill Street, Magnotta, Great Lakes Brewing, Steamwhistle, Black Oak, Cameron's, Trafalgar Ales & Meads, Old Credit Brewing... and the list goes on. There are a lot of great beers to be had if you just go out and take a look.

There are also many great beer bars across the GTA. Bar Volo, C'est What?, The Rhino, Victory Cafe, The Beer Bistro, Michelle's Brasserie, the Mill Street Brew Pub, The Granite Brewery and Pub, just to name a few. And many of these bars offer great events throughout the year. Bar Volo hosts a cask day each year. C'est What? has spring and fall craft brewing festivals. The Granite has Robbie Burns day and other brewing focused dinners.

And if you really feel the need to try something different, take a drive down the QEW, pop across the border and just Stateside, there is a great little place in Buffalo called The Premier Gourmet. They have an extensive beer list, many of which are unavailable to us in Canada. And with a strong dollar it maybe worth the trip. Especially if The Beer Store, Ontario's beer champion, keeps letting you down...

Comments for The Beer Store, Ontario

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Feb 15, 2014
Job is bullshit NEW
by: Anonymous

I hate working for the beer store and dealing with customers who think they are beer experts buying 8 cans all different brands.. Bottle collectors bringing back garbage they have trespassed to collect and dumpster diving .. I feel for my coworkers who make minimum wage .. Thankful I've been there Long enough that I make 17$/he but the place is a joke.. The only people I like are the ones I see once a week, they pay with cash , they buy one two four and don't make small talk.. In and out goodbye and they usually tip us with their empties ..I say open it up to convenience stores until this company treats and pays their employees better!

Mar 02, 2013
Don't Shop There NEW
by: Anonymous

The absolute WORST place that I have ever worked. The list is endless as to why this is, but needless to say, they treat their employees like absolute anal butter. Do you want to know why the customer service is so poor at The Beer Store? It is because this sniveling cheap-ass company get their part-time (or casual) labour force that makes minimum wage to do 70-80% of the work within the stores. Most of the full timers (that make upwards of $27/hr) are lazy self-entitled union slackers. Most are on "modified" duties...meaning they do sweet frak all. I will support the LCBO - even though it would be easier to purchase my beer from work. I HATE THE COMPANY...can you tell?

Dec 19, 2012
Make Your Own NEW
by: Chris

I feel for anyone who is dependent on getting a reasonable supply of "good" beer in Ontario. The LCBO only sells six packs and the Beer Store mostly sells macro lagers. I have a solution. Make your own beer. I have been doing that since 1990. Beer ingredients are easily to come by now in Ontario and if you need help, it is readily available thanks to the internet. I never, ever go to the Beer Store and I hate their monopoly. I may have to buy electronics from foreigners, but when it comes to beer, yes, I do have a choice. Tax free beer from my basement. 4 cases usually cost me around $30 to $50, depending on the recipe. Give the Beer Store the finger, make your own.

May 07, 2012
Import beer from Italy NEW
by: Claudio

I'm moving to Toronto from Italy. I thought I could start a business importing excellent Italian craft beer. But then I started reading all the regulations. LCBO, Beerstore... ridiculous. Beer laws in Ontario are medieval. I'm a huge craft and indie beer consumer. You guys are missing on so much! The thought that I won't be able to have an excellent IPA whenever I want just makes me sad.

Mar 13, 2012
why so much? NEW
by: jma

Just found out today:(doh) that bars pay more for a case of beer at The so called beer store than the average WE the people and that they just upped the price of it for them which means of course more money for us to disburse for a couple of beers with our pals and take in a sports game at the local pub. Isn't there any governement regulation to stop this greed? Guess not, just like gas! They donate to the parties and help (or try to) bet them elected. It's all a "clique" And we're on the outside, i'm not looking in, it's too ugly.

Sep 17, 2010
by: Anonymous

I work there and I know that what they say is not what they do. The BeerStore is happy to keep customers waiting as long as they can control their labor. Its about dollars and cents and not about customer service. The new 'Green' beerstore is their latest ploy to convince people that they give a shit. Don't expect the lines for returns to get any smaller. Returns are their"bread and butter' and keeping labor costs down (you wait longer) is at the top of their agenda. Why line up for the same crappy beer? The brewers are all controlled by three multinationals? Buy something local and send a message. push for deregulation. Corner stores check ID for cigarettes, why not alcohol?
Crappy place to work and a crappy placer to shop.

Jul 17, 2010
Not to good with only one comment
by: Anonymous

see above

Mar 19, 2010
Why I Hate The Beer Store
by: Chris

I totally agree. I gave up trying to find a beer I like at the Beer Store. Nothing but Molson/Labatt shit. Same yellow, fizzy lagers with absolutely no flavour. I hate the high prices the most. I started making my own. Now I can drink beer with flavour, anytime I want. No more driving to the Beer Store being subjected to rude people who say to themselves, " He'll be back, where else can he go?". I hate monopolies. I have kegs and kegs of beer with hops and malt. Something that the Beer Store doesn't carry, and if they did the price is through the roof. I'll never, ever go back to the Beer Store. We need a Craft Beer store in Ontario and we need it now!!!

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