“I kept asking Clarence why our world seemed to be collapsing and things seemed to be getting so shitty. And he’d say, “That’s the way it goes, but don’t forget,
it goes the other way too”.”
~ Alabama Worley
It was yet another weird and worrisome week in the world of craft beer.
And yet, much as the news can sometimes be troubling, it all seems to point to the idea that there is a certain balance to this industry, for better or worse. Clintons, the storied Bloor West venue, for example, announced its closure after 83 years in business, but certainly another bar or two opened in Toronto this week to help fill the void.
Breweries continue to open in the province and, as we have for about five years, we can’t help but wonder how many more this province can actually hold. Well, wonder no more. Or at least not much longer, I think. Rumours continue to swirl that there are roughy a half dozen well-known breweries in this province actively looking for buyers or some kind of exit strategy as the craft beer market share seems to finally level off and even established brewers admit privately to me they are hemorrhaging cash. Stay tuned.
It’s at once sad and vaguely reassuring. Continue reading “Vegandale, hard seltzer, and the swing of the pendulum”
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 “Five more points about contract brewing”
Back in 2013, it was with some degree of fanfare that Kensington Brewing Company, then a contract brewing company producing its beers at Wellington Brewery in Guelph, announced they would be opening an actual bricks and mortar brewery in their namesake neighbourhood.
At that time, a brewery in Kensington Market, one of Toronto’s most vibrant and eclectic neighbourhoods, seemed like a novel idea.
Fast forward to 2017 and Kensington Brewing Company, still under construction at 299 Augusta Avenue, is now practically in a race to be the first brewery in the neighbourhood as two–count ’em two!–other brewing facilities are potentially in the works on the very same street in the market.
Both Mike Duggan, a craft beer pioneer who helped found Mill Street brewery, and Collective Arts, a Hamilton-based operation with ties to the art and music scene, are seeking to launch brewing operations on Augusta Ave. Continue reading “Kensington Market is about to become a serious beer destination”