standard LCBO Winter 2014 Craft Beer Release Prices


I quite enjoyed the process of creating my table of craft beer benchmark prices. There seemed to be a fairly enthusiastic response to it. But, why keep going with this shtick? Well, despite the implication from Garrett Oliver a while back on Facebook that one would have to be a real wet blanket to consider beer based on its price per litre, I think this is something that needs more attention.

In Toronto, there are enough beer writers scribbling away that we do a very good job of packing the LCBO’s small tasting room to the brim and yet, I feel like value has been the last consideration we mention. I’m just as guilty as anyone else and probably have overlooked this sort of commentary from one of my colleagues.

In fairness, it’s a more difficult question to approach than for other libations – you could fill several Olympic-size swimming pools with the product mentioned on lists of “12 bottles of wine for under $12″– simply because there is no standard bottle size. In the LCBO’s winter beer release there are four different formats and the largest is more than twice as big as the smallest.

To be clear, I don’t think that variety is a problem. I’ll take a beer bottles as they come and wouldn’t want the Ontario government’s booze monopoly to exclude beer because it didn’t conform.I should also explain that prices are set both by the LCBO and the agent representing a particular beer in Ontario. It’s my understanding that if a particular price goes up, or seems high to begin with, it’s the latter who is likely to blame. The LCBO does a good job of keeping the price on this type of beer low relative to other provinces and states.

I do think it needs to be a bit easier for customers to make comparisons, so I’m going to continue publishing these posts, which will include a table that has a $/L column.Here is the data (based on the spreadsheet I was sent by the LCBO) for the winter craft beer release. I’m still waiting to hear about a brewery feature for the upcoming quarter or any special Christmas beers.

The Mayan Chocolate Chipotle Stout5003.67.20
Sigtuna Midvinterblot 3304.613.94
The Fundamental Blackhorn, Heavy Imp Stout5007.9515.90
Pauwel Kwak Strong Belgian Ale 3303.410.30
Midtfyns Bryghus Chili Tripel, Danish Spiced 5006.513.00
Samichlaus 3304.7514.39
Black Betty Strong Ale3303.9511.97
Steamworks Blitzen6506.9510.69
New Holland Dragon's Milk6507.7511.92
Grande Cuvee American Barleywine75012.6516.87
Rocheforet 103303.8511.67
Westmalle Dubbel3303.4510.45
La Trappe Quadrupel 7507.7510.33
Smuttynose - Imperial Stout6508.9513.77
Rodenbach Vintage 7509.9513.27

I want to stress that I have never tasted some beers on this list. In all cases, these will be from different batches or years than the ones I’ve sampled. So, this is only half of the information needed to answer the “is it worth it?” question.Mind you, I do have some preliminary observations:

  • The price on the Samichlaus is creeping northwards. Not sure what it was last year, but it is 20% higher than when I wrote about it in 2012.
  • For me, the Rochefort 10 is usually better than La Trappe, but the latter comes in at a nice discount this year.
  • At that price, the barley wine better be absolutely fantastic.
  • I’m glad I don’t really crave Imperial stouts because clearly there is a not-fully-explained premium on them. (The Ratebeer 99-point nudge?) And the others in the class will have to be pretty lights-out to justify their premium over the Dragon’s Milk.
  • The Rodenbach Vintage is priced just right for everyone to buy two bottles – one for your cellar and another to share with the most intransigent wine chauvinist you can lay hands on.


  1. That Samichlaus is a delicious beer, I buy a few every year. At 14% it drinks smoother than most 12% barleywines.

    1. Agreed, Eric. It also ages well. Since the common advice is to buy a few bottles — drink one immediately, a second after a couple years, and a third later than that — the smaller bottles make that a more economical enterprise.

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