Bellwoods Brewery • Canada
From the brewer:
“Bellwoods began as a small brewery and pub in downtown Toronto. Owners and brewers Mike Clark and Luke Pestl spent several years brewing in the Toronto beer industry before branching off to open their own place. We officially opened our doors to the public in April 2012 and have been working towards the rather ambitious goal not to run out of beer.
In 2013 we opened our bottle shop full-time, further intensifying both our excitement to release new beers, and our tenuous relationship with supply. We can assure you that, for a long time, we only packed lunches that could be eaten with one hand and no cutlery (wraps are great for this) as the brewing, barreling, cleaning, and packaging never seemed to experience a lull. We’ve been extremely grateful for the ‘problem’ of high demand, but also have known for several years that our production schedule was unsustainable within such a small footprint. We pushed our equipment to the limits, brewed from sun up ‘til sun down, and spent more hours than we ever care to calculate feeding bottles on and off our 6 head filler. We took vertical storage space very seriously, and did our best to stave off mental breakdowns with humour. You can think of us as urban survivalists.
Though the planning and bureaucratic hoop jumping began long before, we finally succeeded in firing up a second production facility in August of 2016, just north of the city core.
Knowing us, we’ll likely maintain our poor work/life balance and continue to prioritize beer production over sleep, but we can assure you that this works fortuitously in your favour. And no, we’re not naïve to the fact that mo’ tanks can bring mo’ problems, but nothing can dampen our excitement about this next chapter. Our hope is that you’ll come along for the journey, enjoy the incredible diversity of what beer can be, and bask in the veritable fruit bowl of our labour. We tell ourselves this every year, but we’re only getting started…
When it comes to our beers, these have evolved (and will continue to evolve) over time – and it makes sense, because we’ve travelled, collaborated, and learned a lot since we opened. We make a variety of bright, fresh, hoppy styles ranging from aromatic pale ales, to fruity Double IPAs. Our enthusiasm for Imperial Stouts is undeniable, and recreating our big releases each year like Bring Out Your Dead, Skeleton Key, or 3 Minutes to Midnight, is always a fun challenge. Of course, we also recognize that most of what we brew these days is to our preference rather than a clearly outlined style guideline, and we’ve fully embraced the not-quite-an-exact-style style.
An additional area of focus is in the production of farmhouse and/or wild ales, and we often utilize various strains of Brettanomyces and bacteria.
Though our barrel-aging efforts began very early, it took us close to a year and a half to develop the organization and volume necessary for regular releases. Barrel-aging is a laborious and risky undertaking for many reasons, but it has also yielded some of our most rewarding beers – complex, layered, tart, sour, funky, dry, refreshing, yeast-forward, occasionally fruited and often bottle conditioned styles that remain memorable long after the final drop is gone. As we move forward with 2 locations, a new fleet of large foudres, and ample room for our stacks of barrels, we’re finally getting the opportunity to create the breadth and volume of excellent beer that we’ve been envisioning for years.
Our aim is to make the most delicious beers that ever existed, and to share those with beer lovers in Toronto and beyond.”