If you’ve sat outside and enjoyed an iced latte at I Deal coffee in the last couple months you may have noticed a trellis structure with vines growing up construction line strung to the ground. Those vines are, in fact, hops, which are part of a new brewery project called Bellwoods Brewery, founded by Mike Clark and Luke Pestl, both former brewers at Amsterdam brewery. They are hoping to encourage those hops to grow to their potential – over 40 feet in a season – and extend those wires to allow the hops, which seem to be thriving in this little urban farm, up to the wall of the cafe. The project is part of something they call City Hops where they are also growing hops in 3 other parts of the city, two private residences as well as the rooftop garden of Parts and Labour. Check out pictures on their flickr page.
The brewery will be going into the former Meta Gallery and Rolly’s Garage space just north of Argyle. Mike and Luke plan to start a wholesale brewing operation in the location and over time, and as permits permit, grow into a small retail location and then add a small restaurant. Guy Rawlings, who until recently was at Brockton General, is helping them out on the menu. According to Mike they plan on keeping the food simple, in a picnic style with gourmet cheeses, pickles, and meats. It will still take 4-6 months at least to get all the permits they require.
They also plan on building relationships with more of the local businesses. They plan to evolve their partnership with I Deal to include a coffee beer, made with some of the hops grown on the Foxley garden. Mike is also a big fan and regular of the Crooked Star, which always has a great selection of beers, so certainly look out for their beer to be served there.
As they build and develop their recipes, they are looking for official tasters. (check the link for details on how to apply) I applied and am excited to try out some of the beer before it gets out on the market.
Clearly the city media is excited about having a new brewery come to the area. Mike and Luke seem to have had little difficulty getting written up in many of the local publications including BlogTO, Toronto Life, Post City, and Toronto.com. It’s a fantastic feat of PR for a launch a few months away. It could also be that people in Toronto are more receptive to beer and brewers than ever before. With the Beer Festival and Toronto Beer Week coming in the next months, we expect more anticipation for Bellwoods Brewery.