Introducing: The Beer Boutique, something just a little bit different from the Beer Store

Introducing: The Beer Boutique, something just a little bit different from the Beer Store

Liberty Village’s new Beer Boutique is the Beer Store’s attempt to craft a more welcoming retail environment (Image: Leo Petaccia)

With the rise of craft breweries, Ontario drinkers have been clamouring for access to a wider variety of brews. The Beer Boutique, which officially opened on Tuesday in Liberty Village, is the Beer Store’s answer to that demand (and to the LCBO’s steady erosion of their market dominance). Targeted at beer drinkers both discerning and recently re-educated, the idea is to turn grabbing a Friday-night sixer into a legitimate shopping experience, perhaps with a a quick lesson in beer appreciation thrown in on the side. According to Ted Moroz, president of the Molson-Coors-Labatt-Sleeman joint venture, “The store was created from listening to our urban consumers who told us they wanted a space where they can learn about new beers, as well sample and enjoy food pairings.”

II by IV—the firm behind The York Event Theatre’s recent revamp—was tasked with designing the interior. The 2,700-square-foot space fits right in with all the new modern-rustic restaurants, with trendy touches like high exposed ceilings and brick walls. A kingly table made of reclaimed wood dominates the centre of the floor, while a light fixture fashioned from interlocking copper tubes (a nod to traditional copper kettles used to brew beer) hangs just above, illuminating mixed stacks of featured beer.

As for product categories, “premium,” “import” and “value” are no longer just choices on a wall (à la the Beer Store), but three neatly organized sections lining the back half of the shop. To give cyclists a break, the Boutique is stocking more cans and single bottles, as well as eight-pack mixers. Imbibers uninterested in the fancy stuff have nothing to worry about: Pabst Blue Ribbon six-packs ($10.95), Red Baron 30-packs ($39.95) and President’s Choice’s new Cerveza 24-packs ($29.95) are in abundance.

Those who want anything but big-brand mainstays have some options too. Japan’s Kirin Ichiban Special Premium Reserve ($3.60 a bottle) and Paulaner Hefe Weissbier (12 for $21.50) are some of the more interesting imports, although you might find them at your local Beer Store. Among the craft beer selections (unfortunately relegated to the back corner), we noticed Flying Monkey’s Hoptical Illusion (six for $12.75), Muskoka Brewery’s Mad Tom IPA (12 for $23.95) and Toronto’s Amsterdam Oranje Weisse ($3.95 a bottle). The selection may not appease diehard micro-brew fans seeking the latest one-off batch from their favourite brewery, but we’re cautiously optimistic it’s a step in the right direction.

See inside the store »

The Beer Boutique, 21 Lynn Williams St., 416-534-8084,