LOCAL BREWERS GET CRAFTY
Hops and barley connoisseurs toast the talent at beer fest
It’s going to take a whole lot more hops, barley and yeast, and a lot less red tape, to take Toronto from Hogtown to Beertown, say Toronto brewers.
Earlier this year, Councillors Mike Layton and Gord Perks proposed that city staff work with craft breweries and restaurants to make Toronto the “craft beer capital of the world.”
It’s a suggestion the city’s craft brewers, and certainly its mayor, have taken to heart.
“I think that what the councillors are trying to do is spot on. It’s good for jobs, it’s good for tourism, it’s good for beer,” said Mayor John Tory while sipping a brew at the Toronto Festival of Beer at the Exhibition grounds Sunday. “I just hope that all of this talk about this, maybe a craft beer city or just even beer city, will encourage more balance to the rules.”
Those municipal and provincial rules — where and when beer can be purchased and consumed — the mayor labelled as “ancient.”
“I think what we’ve got to do is lighten up a little bit. There are some small steps being taken in the right direction in terms of the craft beers being available on a more broad basis, but there seems to be an assumption that people will be sort of wandering around the streets having consumed far too much beer if you allow them to walk around carrying a beer,” said the mayor, who prefers an IPA.
“Here we all are. How many people do you see falling down and lying on the ground? The answer is none.”
The Star asked five Toronto craft brewers serving up libations at the festival what they think city administration can do to make the Big Smoke a world-class destination for brewskies. Here’s what they had to say:
Name: Peter Bulut, president and chief brewing officer Brewery: Great Lakes Brewery Established: 1987 Go-to beer: Canuck Pale Ale What Toronto can do: Bulut wants to see the city be more amenable to letting breweries with real estate alter their properties for such conveniences as parking spots or paved areas for tourists so that visitors can visit brewers’ retail stores on statutory holidays. “Those statutory holidays, when the Beer Store and LCBO aren’t open, as well as days throughout the year, are a good opportunity to really promote and help push craft beer in Toronto.” Name: Mark Murphy, co-owner Brewery: Left Field Brewery Established: 2013 Go-to beer: Sunlight Park Belgian Style Saison with Grapefruit Zest
What Toronto can do: “One is an investment in the tourism side. Make it easier for people to find out where all the breweries are and maybe do a brewery crawl. Two, would be just a more streamlined licensing and zoning process.” Name: Jordan Rainhard, owner Brewery: Rainhard Brewing Co. Established: 2014 Go-to beer: West coast-style IPA What can Toronto do? “They need to know what they’re talking about and what a microbrewery entails. We’re not a huge plant. For a guy like myself and recent breweries opening up, there’s so much red tape, there’s so many regulations that the city councillors and the zoning officials don’t know what they’re doing, and they’re just kind of lost. You need someone who knows what they’re doing and walk the new brewers through it with ease and not take a year to get through all the paperwork.”
Name: Owen Gazel, sponsorship event co-ordinator Brewery: Mill St. Brewery Established: 2002 Go-to beer: Belgian Wit What can Toronto do? Gazel, who says Toronto is on the right track when it comes to helping smaller brewers, says he thinks the city could benefit from more brew pubs. “They really educate people . . . Usually these brew pubs have very welleducated staff that can guide you. Not everyone’s a beer drinker.”
Name: Andrew Costa, marketing manager Brewery: Cool Beer Brewing Co. Established: 1997 (Brampton), moved to Toronto in 2005 Go-to beer: Millennium Buzz Hemp Beer What can Toronto do? “If we were able to open a couple of more retail stores that just specialize in our beers, as well as different craft beers around the GTA or even Ontario, it would actually help a lot just because craft breweries have been opening up a lot in the GTA.”