Nickel Brook has a big move brew­ing

Hamil­ton’s suds suc­cess story is head­ing to Ni­a­gara Re­gion

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - NATALIE PADDON


COM­PA­NIES BE­HIND Arts and Sci­ence Brew­ery are part­ing ways to al­low both suds-mak­ers to con­tinue to grow.

Nickel Brook Brew­ing Co. is clos­ing up shop in Hamil­ton and head­ing to the Ni­a­gara Re­gion, while Col­lec­tive Arts Brew­ing will take over all 50,000 square feet of the cur­rent space at the west har­bour.

The move is a way for both brew­eries to keep their mo­men­tum go­ing and ful­fil their long-term vi­sions of pro­duc­ing

more craft beer and trans­form­ing their spa­ces for visi­tors.

“It was a mu­tual de­ci­sion to move in and a mu­tual de­ci­sion to part ways,” said Matt John­ston, Col­lec­tive Arts co-founder and pres­i­dent.

Much has changed since the part­ner­ship was forged in 2014 and the Hamil­ton brew­ery opened the fol­low­ing year. Both craft brew­ers are pro­duc­ing more beer than they ever could have imag­ined.

In that time, Nickel Brook has jumped from mak­ing about 5,000 hec­tolitres (500,000 litres) a year to 12,000. They’re now slated to ramp it up to pro­duce 25,000, said co­founder John Ro­mano.

“That will make things cramped in there — it is al­ready.”

It’s a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion for Col­lec­tive Arts, which was only four months old when the par­ties de­cided to build the space to­gether, said John­ston. They’ve tripled their pro­duc­tion ev­ery year, he added.

For Ro­mano, Ni­a­gara brings the prom­ise of build­ing a “des­ti­na­tion” — more of a “win­ery-style brew­ery” where visi­tors can en­joy a tap room, event space and food.

“We do a lot of bar­rel aging,” he said. “My dream would be to be down in wine coun­try be­cause of that.”

Ro­mano has placed an of­fer on a prop­erty in St. Catharines and he’s ex­pect­ing to find out next week if he’ll get it. He’s also been eye­ing spots in Ni­a­gara Falls and Ni­a­garaon-the-Lake.

Mean­while, Nickel Brook will “con­tract brew” out of the Hamil­ton lo­ca­tion for the next two years, mean­ing Col­lec­tive Arts will make core brands for them, Ro­mano said.

Nickel Brook’s orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion in Burling­ton will stay op­er­a­tional for the fore­see­able fu­ture, con­tin­u­ing to fo­cus on the pro­duc­tion of sour and wild ales and re­tail sales.

In Hamil­ton, Col­lec­tive Arts has “big plans” for the brew­ery that would not have been pos­si­ble if the two com­pa­nies had stayed housed to­gether, in­clud­ing cre­at­ing a hospi­tal­ity space with a mu­sic venue and a cre­ative space to show­case artists’ work. The goal is to open the doors to this space next spring, John­ston said.

Pro­duc­tion will con­tinue ramp­ing up, and staff at the brew­ery will stay on with Col­lec­tive Arts.

“This al­lows us to ful­fil our dreams of what we want,” John­ston said. “This is a move we have hoped for since we first (set) foot in the space — that we could truly take own­er­ship and grow and lead it and truly be proud to fly the Col­lec­tive Arts flag.”

The Burling­ton Street brew­ery, which sits on Lake­port’s for­mer site, is lo­cated on Hamil­ton Port Au­thor­ity lands.

Mov­ing for­ward, the lease will re­main “sta­tus quo,” said spokesper­son Larissa Fenn.

“Col­lec­tive Arts will con­tinue on as our ten­ant,” she said.

John Ro­mano, co-founder of Nickel Brook, plans to ex­pand the brew­ery’s ca­pac­ity with a new fa­cil­ity in Ni­a­gara.

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