Whether they know it or not, Toronto beer drinkers have more sources than The Beer Store and LCBO.
On Feb. 10, The Beer Store launched its website to show Ontarians the consequences of selling beer, wine and spirits at corner stores and gas stations. According to the website, selling beer and wine at corner stores and gas stations would mean higher prices and less selection for customers.
Some customers in Toronto, however, may not be aware beer can already be bought from locations other than The Beer Store and LCBO. Not only that, customers can also find a greater selection and quality of beer at a much lower cost.
Several make-your-own stores exist throughout Toronto and the GTA. Charles Fajgenbaum operates Fermentations, located on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue. His store gives customers the opportunity to create their own beer or wine from fresh ingredients.
“We keep a massive library of yeasts, and hops and grains so that we can fully customize any style of beer that people are looking for,” Fajgenbaum said.
Customers call in advance to book a beer or wine making session at Fermentations. They can choose from a list of beers and wines or customize a recipe. At the session, the customer will add yeast to their batch and leave it to ferment at the store. Two weeks later, when fermenting ends, they return to bottle their beer or wine.
Fajgenbaum says customers save because his prices do not include alcohol taxes. Also, per bottle, the cost comes out to less than at The Beer Store or LCBO.
“In some cases you can save 60, 65 or 70 per cent compared to buying the same style of beer at the LCBO or The Beer Store,” Fajgenbaum said.
Beer drinkers can also go the do-it-yourself route.
Zack Weinberg runs a home brewing supply retailer. This past November, the company opened its first retail store in Toronto’s west end. Weinberg says it does not take much time or effort to brew a quality beer.
“You can brew beer that’s better than at The Beer Store right away,” Weinberg said.
Weinberg’s store carries brewing equipment, supplies, and ingredients. He says the do-it-yourself option costs far less. He also says different kinds of home brewing products and ingredients have become more widely available, to a point where anyone can brew almost any kind of beer they want.
“Aside from the fact that you can brew two cases of your favorite beer for 50 cents a beer, you’re able to customize things to your own taste,” Weinberg said. “You’re likely to produce a better quality product than what you can buy.”