Pioneer Ontario Breweries

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JeffPorter
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Pioneer Ontario Breweries

Postby JeffPorter » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:19 pm

Dropped in on Mill St while in the Distillery this week and had a (rather tasty) Father John's Ale.

I probably go back there once a year or so, as it used to be my old neighbourhood and when the Distillery got the face lift, Mill Street was a big deal. I spent a lot of time (and money) there.

But it got me thinking about the 80s and 90s and what were some of Ontario's pioneer breweries,

So a couple of questions:

1) What local breweries do you identify as pioneers of what we might call a brewing revival? And why?

2) What breweries contributed to the provincial scene making big strides in its brewing over the past several years and why?


I think there's some obvious answers, but I'm also interested in hearing about the beers and breweries that might get overlooked...
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Postby S. St. Jeb » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:36 pm

When you talk of pioneering Ontario micro-breweries, the name that comes immediately to mind is Jim Brickman. Brick Brewing opened at the end of 1984. I don't know the details of what you need to do to get a brewing license, but he had to break new ground, and I'm sure it was more difficult than it is for today's new brewers.

I don't know the order of what breweries came next, but Wellington was one of the early ones.

Brick and Wellington have gone different paths, but it's nice to see them last this long. Many, many Ontario breweries have come and gone since then.
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Postby NRman » Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:05 am

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Postby chris_schryer » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:23 am

I agree with Jim Brickman, also Upper Canada (1984), Welly (1985), Great Lakes (1987), and even The Granite (early 90s). There's probably others I'm forgetting.

Edit: How could I forget, Denison's? 1989 I believe.
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Postby MatttthewGeorge » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:49 am

Creemore!
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Postby Derek » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:04 pm

I agree that Wellington, Creemore & Upper Canada were highly influential.

Amsterdam in '86. They weren't always great (and may have suffered some growing pains), but have certainly influenced the Toronto scene.

Sleeman '88. Sure they only had one all-malt offering and were absolutely going for market share from day 1... but they were a macro alternative and a gateway for many. Much like Brick and Great Lakes in the early years.

Lakeport was a game changer.

Niagara Brewing was great while it lasted as well.
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Postby Rob Creighton » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:56 pm

Brick, Upper Canada, Sleeman & Algonquin all had a business model to get to a million HL as quickly as possible. Only Sleeman made it all because of one tagline and bottle...The choice is clear. Even though upwards of 90% of their production over the years was brewing and bottling US discount lagers. Algonquin started going down (from 65000 hl) the moment they switched to the ISB.

Luckily, Wellington had a wealthy owner in Phil Gosling who only really wanted beer that he liked so he could drink his beer with his buddies and he could absorb the early losses.

Among the other early start-ups that didn't make it; Connors in Mississauga and TO, Burlington Brewery, Pacific, Sculler & Taylor & Bate in St. Catherines, Simcoe in Newmarket and three in London whose names evade me.

The early competition between Great Lakes & Cool to make a Molson Canadian replicate was wild to watch. It is amazing the volume of beer sold in Hamilton, Barrie, on the Danforth and in every Portugeuse, Italian, Greek and any other ethnic club you could find all without having to spend money on marketing or even a tap handle. It was all sold under Blue, Canadian or black knobs. My guess in 2000 was a volume around 60 to 70 thousand HL between the two.
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Postby Derek » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:03 pm

The Glatt Brothers was one in London...
http://www.bartowel.com/board/viewtopic ... 78d40aebfb

I believe the Ceeps still exists (set up my Charles Maclean), but I wouldn't consider their swill a pioneering effort.

A good reference:
http://books.google.ca/books?id=17IXIp3 ... &q&f=false
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Postby Rob Creighton » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:25 pm

Glatt Brothers was a classic Frank'n'brew system and the chili beer really worked for them. Most of the equipment in it looked like it belonged in any business but brewing. Shame the way it worked out. I think John is an investigator for fraud with revenue Canada now so some of you may meet him.

Thames Valley Brewing was another and I think it was horribly under capitalized.

The third was another venture Charles was involved with in a minimall south of Labatt.
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Postby MatttthewGeorge » Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:40 pm

Rob Creighton wrote:The third was another venture Charles was involved with in a minimall south of Labatt.


That was Hometowne Brewery, where MacLean's Pale Ale was first brewed, along with MacLean's Pilsner, which eventually became Stone Hammer Pilsner.

So all in all, four from London: Glatt, Thames, Hometowne & Ceeps.
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Postby Rob Creighton » Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:13 pm

Ceeps is a brewpub. We haven't even started that conversation
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Postby SlipperyPete » Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:55 pm

Wow. I'm actually old enough to weigh in on this.

Growing up in Windsor, and moving to Toronto in 97', I remember Upper Canada and Sleeman dominating whatever craft scene was around. Brick was great, but only one or two bars in Windsor carried it. We had Charley's Pub, but they made one really generic beer, and occasionally other things. Walkerville showed up in the late 90's, and made some quality stuff.

Creemore was just all over Toronto (reminds me of Steamwhistle's growth), but was difficult to get further outside of the city. Not sure if C'est What had the same supplier they did way back when, but they had a few house ales when the bar only existed on one side, made by somebody...

I also remember Niagara (Falls?) Brewing Company, and that Eisbock. Man that shit was amazing. Seriously wish they were still around making that.
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Postby midlife crisis » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:12 pm

To me living in downtown Toronto in the 1980s Wellington Brewery were my heroes once they came on the scene. They made true English-style cask conditioned ale, and it was so fabulously unlike anything else available in a pub at the time I went to great lengths to seek it out. The first places to have their cask beers on a regular basis, IIRC, were the Hop and Grape on College and the Duke of Kent on Yonge at Roehampton. There may have been a couple of others (Feathers?). C'est What came along shortly thereafter, and then The Bow and Arrow and the Granite Brewery, circa 1990.

One other great early brewery that hasn't been mentioned was Hart from Ottawa. Their cask conditioned Pale Ale could be sublime. I was also a huge fan of the original F&M brewery of Rich Fortnum and Charles Maclean. Maclean's Pale Ale (affectionately known as "cask Charlie") flowed from the handpump at the Bow and Arrow in the early 1990s. I also remember a short-lived but delicious cask mild called, simply, F&M Mild.
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Postby MatttthewGeorge » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:35 pm

midlife crisis wrote:I was also a huge fan of the original F&M brewery of Rich Fortnum and Charles Maclean. Maclean's Pale Ale (affectionately known as "cask Charlie").


Are you saying that the MacLean's we make now is not the same? I've asked Charles (he still brews for us roughly 3 times a month) and he's said the recipe has never changed.
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Postby midlife crisis » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:39 pm

MatttthewGeorge wrote:
midlife crisis wrote:I was also a huge fan of the original F&M brewery of Rich Fortnum and Charles Maclean. Maclean's Pale Ale (affectionately known as "cask Charlie").


Are you saying that the MacLean's we make now is not the same? I've asked Charles (he still brews for us roughly 3 times a month) and he's said the recipe has never changed.


That was not my intention at all; I would have no idea. I wish it was still available, even occasionally, in my neck of the woods so I could try it out! It has been years since I've had one.

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