Food for Thought: Ontario Craft Brewers Tap Into Success

Ontario Craft Beer Week may have come to a close for 2013…but for Ontario’s craft beer revolution, there’s no end in sight. A�In thisA�installmentA�of Tasty Tidbits, we’re putting our pints together to celebrate an industry that’s not just booming, it’s hopping!

Since the very first settlers set foot on the soil of our fledging province, the beer has pretty much always been flowing (that whole unfortunate Prohibition Era episode notwithstanding). A�In Canada, the exalted, malted beverage can be traced back to the opening of the first commercial brewery in 1670. A�In Toronto, the history majors have labelled John Henderson as the city’s first brewmaster, in 1800.

Toronto's first brewery - at Sherbourne and Richmond.

Toronto’s first brewery at what is now the intersection of Sherbourne and Richmond.

So yes – it’s safe to say brewing in this province has a long history…but when did the industry really start to get creative? For that, you have to wait til the early eighties – a time ofA�Kraftwerk and in 1984, when Jim Brickman opened the first independent brewery, craft beer as well. A�Other small batch brewers quickly banded together, helping to expand the beer market, increasing sales and attracting a new generation of beer drinkers with their aromatic ales and lagers.

In 2005, the Ontario Craft BrewersA�(OCB) was formed to unite brewers across the province, celebrate regional brewing heritage and of course, create innovative beers with exceptional taste.

Here, here for beer, beer!

Here, here for beer, beer!

DO THE MASHA�-A�Ontario Craft Brewing by the Numbers

31 – members in the OCB
2 – OCB members added in 2013 (Left Field Brewery and Walkerville Brewery)
33 – increase (by percentage) in craft beer sales at the LCBO from 2012 to 2013
250+ – premium handcrafted beers brewed by OCB members
400 – events held across the province for this year’s Ontario Craft Beer Week
900 – the number of direct jobs created by the brewery industry in Ontario
400 million – the estimated economic impact of Ontario’s independent breweries


Today’s craft breweries prize quality and taste above all else. A�So of course it makes sense to look locally to ensure each batch is as fresh as it can be. A�From using homegrown hops and seasonal specialities to hiring local businesses for services and equipment, craft brewers embody the very essence of the local food and drink movement.

OHGAThe Ontario Hop Growers Association (est. 2012) is currently 28 members strong, with growers, herbalists and brewers spread from Cornwall to Clifford. A�Last year was the first year that hops were commercially harvested in Eastern, Central and Southern Ontario since the 1930s. A�In Norfolk County, Ramblin’ Road Brewery became the first brewery farm (growing hops and brewing on the premises) in Ontario when it opened last December.


Here are a few more provincial pints to look for this season:A�

  • Maverick & Gose – a collaboration between Amsterdam Brewery and
    Great Lakes Maverick-and-Gose-500ml-91x300Brewery created from barrel-aging Leipziger Gose Beer in Ontario Chardonnay barrels for four months (available at the LCBO)
  • Maple Porter – just in time for Canada Day, a limited edition beer from Black Creek Historic Brewery using local maple syrup (available at the brewery)
  • The Wayward Son – a Belgian-style ale aged in Ontario Pinot Noir barrels from Radical Road Brewing Co. (July at the LCBO)
  • Sour Cherry Brown Ale – the latest small batch Welly One-Off from Guelph’s Wellington Brewery features locally grown sour cherries (available in June at the brewery)
  • Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale – the first bottles from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company’s newly launched B-Side Label have started to roll out. A collaborative effort between the brewery and Denmark’s Ander Kissmeyer, this beer features local cranberries and maple syrup amongst its northern-inspired medley of ingredients (available at the brewery and through their online storeA�now, on LCBO shelves this fall)

The craft brewing industry in Ontario has shown incredible growth over the past decade and the future is bright. A�With exciting partnerships between winemakers, distillers, chefs and other businesses along the culinary tourism value chain, this band of independent brewers is helping to build Ontario’s reputation as a destination for food AND drink.

Thirsty for more? VisitA�Ontario Craft Brewers,A�Mom n’ Hops: An Ontario Craft Beer Guide,A�check ourA�event calendarA�for all the malted mayhem happening throughout the province or drop us a line!


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    One Response to Food for Thought: Ontario Craft Brewers Tap Into Success

    1. […] Toronto’s first brewery is credited to Robert Henderson. Photo credit: Tasty Tidbits […]

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