When the province tweaked its liquor laws to allow restaurants to sell beer and wine, local restaurants were quick to add booze to their take-away and delivery options. But soon another option emerged: selling hard-to-find bottles as the main attraction (offered with a side of chips or charcuterie to abide by provincial rules).
Bar Lupulus was always at the centre of the interesting ales, with over 200 beers on offer on any given day. “Beer is something we have the edge on,” says owner Anthony Spagnolo.
Now they are selling those bottles through an online shop, where you can shop the world of beer.
Spagnolo says the interest has been huge — especially in the first few days when their community of regulars wanted to show their support. Bottles are selling out, and those interesting ales aren’t easy (or quick) to make, so it’s a good time to stock up for special occasions.
But their bottle shop can be a bit dizzying if you’re not (yet) a beer connoisseur, so we asked Spagnolo for some advice. Lambic ales, for example, are those that are fermented in an open batch method, which means you can get some wild, funky flavours. “These are extremely unique,” says Spagnolo, noting that the term Lambic can only be used for ales made in Belgium, specifically in the Zenne Valley. “Lambic is very popular, and it’s not easy to find.”
There are also grape ales to explore. What’s a grape ale? A wine-beer hybrid, a “wild ale” according to Spagnolo, with an ABV of around 8 percent. Last year the Italian Grape Ale (IGA) became an officially recognized category in some countries, and Lupulus stocks about 20 types, with plenty from Ontario and other parts of Canada. Spagnolo also notes that the cellared beers from Toronto’s Burdock Brewery haven’t been available anywhere else, and once those are gone, they are gone.
As opposed to fresh, ready-to-drink beer, “they’re ready when they’re ready,” he says.
Find details for ordering and browse the shop here.
For those who prefer their grapes fermented the traditional way, there are options like Curated by Beckta. Yes, the same people behind Beckta, Play, and Gezellig are pulling high-end bottles from their cellars and creating cases that help people explore fabulous wine.
They’re offering a charcuterie or cheese board to accompany cases, and including personal notes about food pairings for each vintage. Customers can select red, white, a mix of both, all rose and sparkling, or “surprise me”. Costs for a case of 12 bottles range from $325 to $1000. Owner Stephen Beckta sees this as a risk-free way to help his restaurants stay strong until the establishments are able to open again. But, he adds, he’s hoping the province will continue to allow this kind of distribution after December 31.
To find out more and order wine, visit the online shop here.