Beer makers who had entered their beers for consideration in 25 different categories milled about the Gladstone's event space, serenaded by a probably-a-bit-too-loud classic rock cover band, rubbing elbows with various beer drinkers and interested media, and anxiously waiting to see who would take home top honours in the field, which this year included a homebrewing category as well.
On Saturday April 27th, that whisky will finally hit the crucial three-year mark which is required by Canadian law in order to sell whisky and Still Waters will release the first few casks of their single malt whisky for retail sales.
Enter the Toronto Distillery Company, the first new distillery in Toronto since before prohibition and just the latest alcohol-related start-up that's embracing the once-dry neighbourhood's DIY sensibilities.
Originally founded in 1987, the brewery was purchased by Peter Bulut Sr. in '91 and moved to its current location at 30 Queen Elizabeth Boulevard, a building that originally served as a factory for Faberge Perfumes Limited. The building was designed by Canadian firm John B. Parkin and Associates and actually won a Massey Medal for architecture when it was built in 1950. After 63 years and a quarter century of service as a brewery, the facilities are certainly a little worse for wear, but they're still highly functioning and churning out more innovative craft beer than ever before.
Sure, they're the kind of places where the staff is engaging, and the menu and drink list is carefully considered, but they're also places that harken back to the origin of the word "pub" to the public houses of old that fostered a sense of community and reflected a city's culture. They're the kind of places you might feel as comfortable spending a late night as you would a thoughtful Sunday afternoon or maybe even bringing the kids on Saturday.