Beer column: Brewers get creative with distribution

Beer column: Brewers get creative with distribution

The LCBO, Beer Store and select grocery stores are all decent ways to discover Ontario craft beers.

But many interesting small batch special brews are available only at the breweries or a limited number of pubs. What then?

The answer is at your doorstep.

Increasingly, craft breweries are distributing directly to consumers via curated services such as the Brew Box (, online ordering and shipping such Half Hours on Earth in Seaforth, or a beer club focused on special brews, such as the newest entry from Muskoka Brewery of Bracebridge.

Muskoka’s core brands, including Mad Tom and Detour IPAs, are widely available and much loved. But it also has special brews only at the brewery, which may or may not involve portages, or a small number of pubs.

Enter the Moonlight Kettle Mailing Club, where for subscriptions of six or 12 months, Ontarians over the age of 19 can have a new beer delivered to their doorstep throughout 2017.

The Moonlight Kettle series consists of never-before-brewed beers created as collaborations between Muskoka staff.

The January beer benefited from the input of Muskoka’s rep in the London area, Andy Marshall. It’s called Dunkel Calls the Kettle Black, a Munich-style dark beer with cherry flavour.

“We’ve followed the growing consumer interest in subscription services,” Muskoka founder Gary McMullen wrote in an email. “The Moonlight Kettle Beer Club was the perfect way to answer our fans’ requests to have greater access to these limited edition beers.”

The six-packs are delivered by Canada Post; a signature is required to take delivery. An option is to have the beer delivered to your workplace, assuming your co-workers don’t find that too distracting.

“Our beer fans have been excited to get these beers delivered to their doorstep,” McMullen said. “Not everyone has a bar down the street pouring the latest Moonlight Kettle brew, so we’ve been seeing subscriptions come in from different cities across Ontario.

“We’re excited that interest in our new beers continues to grow and look forward to hearing what fans think of these unique brews.”

The entire year has been mapped out with Moonlight Kettle schedule.

We’ll see beers such as an Imperial pilsner made with birch in April, a Vermont-style IPA that dials down the bitterness in May, and Seasons Change, a saison with raspberry and lavender, available in September. An Australian sparkling ale called Dingo Drank My Beer appears in June.

“As an Ontario brewer, the Moonlight Kettle Beer Club gives us an opportunity to take beer drinkers on a year-long beer journey, introducing them to new styles and flavour profiles they might not ordinarily try,” McMullen said.

Details on how to be a Big Dipper or Little Dipper series subscriber are at

What better way to evoke thoughts of summer barbecues than with a beer originally conceived to pair with hamburgers and and juicy steak?

London’s Forked River Brewing Company has a January appearance of its Red Coat, a Canadian red ale. Its taste falls between a pale ale and an IPA, citrusy with obvious caramel flavour.

It’s at the brewery store at 45 Pacific Court in bottles, as a 12-ounce pour or four-oz. sampler.

Pining for the new bottle shop and tasting room to open at London Brewing Co-op?

The new shop at 521 Burbrook Place, should be ready for beer fans near the end of January. It replaces the monthly pop-ups that had been held at the Root Cellar in Old East Village.

Here’s hoping your growlers of Ode to the Wick, Bad Moon Ryezin, and Perky Porter picked up at the December pop-up will last until then.

Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist in London.

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