Nickel Brook has a big move brewing
Hamilton’s suds success story is heading to Niagara Region
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.