Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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Five more points about contract brewing

Last week, I wrote a piece for  the Globe and Mail about contract brewing, the practice wherein brewing companies or virtual breweries rent space from larger facilities to make their beer.

Given the constraints of the 800 words I was alotted, there was much I did not have time to dig in on and so the final piece was something of an overview of the practice, with some brief discussion of why it might be growing in popularity–especially in Ontario–with some insight from a business owner, Shehan De Silva of Lost Craft Beer, who has had success with this model, and from a bricks and mortar brewery owner, Jason Fisher of the Indie Ale House, who is generally opposed to this model for what he feels it brings (or doesn’t) to the industry as a whole.

The article was intentionally targeted at the Globe and Mail’s “general audience” and so much of the beer geekery I might have dug in on was omitted. Accordingly the responses from beer industry folks on twitter, Facebook, and my email were passionate and varied. Interestingly, the article seemed to simply confirm everyone’s beliefs no matter which side of the argument you might be on. Both virtual brewers and bricks and mortar brewers have reached out to me in the interim to say I had represented their side well (Not to toot my own horn, but beep fucking beep).

Also of interest, one owner of a contract brewing facility says he was subsequently inundated with calls from interested new brewing companies. Er, sorry / you’re welcome, Ontario?

Anyway, here are some mostly random tidbits I had hoped to include but couldn’t. Continue reading


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Where is your beer brewed?

cool

In the craft beer world, opinions about the merits of contract brewing are pretty varied.

Without wading into the debate (again), I do want to discuss one thing that I think virtually everyone takes a disliking too, and that’s when a contract brewer or brewing company attempts to be dishonest about where it is that their beer is  actually made.

Frankly, I don’t know why people think it benefits them to claim they own an actual brewery when they don’t (whether they claim this explicitly or implicitly), but there is a trend as of late for some “brewers” to be shady about where it is that their malt actually meets water before they slap a label on the beer and try to sell it to the world. Most brewing companies are, of course, happy to tell you where their beer is made (I asked a lot of them for this article and they answered me), but there are still some that are less-than-forthcoming about it. Given that I’m a big proponent of transparency when it comes to the brewing, production, and marketing of beer in this province, I thought I’d add simply a little more clarity to the issue today. Continue reading


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Let’s talk about contract brewing

Cool Expansion Before

It’s that time of year when everyone begins to trot out their end-of-year reviews and we look back on the year that was in beer.

And as we beer writers all surf through our own stories from the previous year in an effort to slap together an SEO-friendly list of happenings we’ve already written about, I feel like there is one item of significance that will get overlooked in a lot of people’s round-ups. It’s the fact that Cool Brewery in Etobicoke is currently wrapping up renovations that will see their space increased by 20%–renovations that have added  four new 330-hectolitre fermentation tanks, vastly increasing their production capabilities.

As they themselves noted in a recent edition of their newsletter, COOL NATION NEWS! each of these tanks will hold the equivalent of 96,800 bottles of beer.

As you probably know, it’s unlikely that those bottles will all be filled with Cool Brewing’s own brands of beer, Cool Lager, Buzz Hemp Beer, and Stonewall Light. Instead, it’s far more likely that the space will be dedicated to Cool’s other, increasingly lucrative business; namely, renting out their space to contract brewers. Continue reading