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Eat & Drink

Behind the scenes at Amsterdam Brewery's new digs

Posted by Ben Johnson / December 18, 2012

amsterdam brewery torontoAs we reported back in September, Amsterdam Brewery recently announced big plans for their future. In addition to opening a waterfront brew-pub in 2013, the brewery also announced they'd be moving all their brewing facilities to a considerably larger space in Leaside.

Last week, I went to go check out the space and take a tour that may or may not have included an impromptu keg-lifting competition that I may or may not have lost handily to Amsterdam's Blake van Delft.

amsterdam brewery toronto newThe new space, located near burgeoning Leaside Village, seems uniquely poised to bring craft beer to a segment of the city that likely didn't have too much direct access before. Given that the location is walking distance from the absolutely massive Longos, it's clear that the folks at Amsterdam are hoping to generate some more of the foot traffic they enjoyed at their previous location on Bathurst.

amsterdam brewery torontoBut foot traffic is clearly not their only hope with the new space. With the addition of four humongous 160 hectolitre fermenters, Amsterdam has more than doubled their capacity and, while they're hesitant to admit it, it seems obvious that their new capabilities are geared at making a play for much, much wider distribution. "We're going to make a lot more beer here," van Delft says. "We're going to be able to supply that growing demand for good-tasting local beer in Ontario."

The tanks, purchased from McDonald Steel in Cambridge, actually utilize the same amount of floor space as did Amsterdam's previous fermenters but the new ones take advantage of the new space available at Leaside by being much taller--almost 35 feet high, in fact.

new amsterdam brewery torontoAnd they're already using that new capacity to full advantage. When I visited, brewer Morgan Wielgosz was in the brewhouse completing a batch of Amsterdam Blonde while nearby Graeme Johnston was using the facility's canning machine to complete a double run; meaning he and Amsterdam staff had canned two full pallets of cans that day--roughly 48 hectolitres of beer or the equivalent of 400 cases.

In addition to upgrading the brewhouse--essentially the brewery's brain--that they brought over from Bathurst, they upgraded their existing boiler and glycol utilities.

amsterdam brewery torontoAs for the rest of the required utilities, considerable modifications were required to transform what was previously a warehouse for storing shipping containers into a brewery. "We cut all the drains, laid all the piping, tiled the place, and did all the electrical," van Delft says. "We also had to install the CO2, and we did all the floors."

amsterdam brewery leasideThe space also features two massive refrigeration areas that were also custom built. One is used for chilling beer during the brewing process and the second houses pallets of beer cases and rows of kegs. It's got so much beer in it, it's surreal. Being inside it was a bit like being in an alcoholic's version of Wonka's factory.

amsterdam brewery new location torontoOn the public side of things, the new brewery also features a massive walk-in fridge retail area and a tasting room that can accommodate groups of up to 20 people who may want to sample Amsterdam's wares. For groups larger than that or private functions, Amsterdam also has an event space that can be rented out for parties--an option that Van Delft says is growing in popularity among Leaside Villagers looking to host interesting holiday parties.

amsterdam brewery leaside torontoIndeed, when I visited, a local roofing company was using the space and getting decidedly festive among Amsterdam's barrel-aging program which is currently sharing the space (though the whole "craft" thing might be a uphill battle with this crowd given the frequency with which party-goers asked their bartender what tasted the most like Labatt Blue).

amsterdam brewery leaside torontoUltimately, it's a unique space and a good beer experience, but the vibe is still very "Amsterdam Beer," just way, way bigger. And while it's clearly a good move for Amsterdam, it's perhaps a little bittersweet for people like me who live downtown and might miss having this much access to their damn good beer. Van Delft, however, has heard this already, and has an answer for me: "I just keep telling people not to worry," he says. "We'll be back downtown in May."

Photographs by Mark Sivilia



Roget / December 18, 2012 at 09:36 am
I headed out there for a look around the other day. It's pretty sweet, but I won't lie, it's kind of a pain in the ass to get to on the TTC. I look forward to their brewpub opening.
Big Fuckin Mega Boat / December 18, 2012 at 09:40 am
I know it's only around 9:30, but I really want a beer right now.
rmrmr replying to a comment from Roget / December 18, 2012 at 10:01 am
Its Leaside. People dont take transit up there.
bob loblaw / December 18, 2012 at 10:04 am
Drunk. Leaside. Yummy. Mummies. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...
no / December 18, 2012 at 10:49 am
416 = worst name for a beer + worst packaging for a beer in the entire history of beer on planet earth.
Doug replying to a comment from no / December 18, 2012 at 11:14 am
I kind of like the name 416. The beer not so much though. But worst name ever? No. There are no other contenders for that distinction than the Aussie beer "Piss."

curgoth / December 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm
Getting there via transit will be a lot easier when the Eglinton LRT is in.
Mike / December 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm
LOL at them calling it "craft beer" though. I'm afraid that label sailed as soon as they started putting it in cans, ick
Gline replying to a comment from rmrmr / December 18, 2012 at 01:17 pm
People can LEARN how to take the bus there-it's not that hard at all, give me a break. I've taken the bus to Leaside before, and if I can do it, so can you.
Beerson replying to a comment from Mike / December 18, 2012 at 02:33 pm
Anyone who appreciates quality beer appreciates that cans are far better than bottles. Light is the enemy of beer so cans make for a better beverage. Of course, for drinking you should always be pouring your beer into the proper glassware.
Big Fuckin Mega Boat / December 18, 2012 at 03:19 pm
Indeed. Bottles can also let oxygen seep in, which can ruin the sweet, sweet, goodness inside. Modern aluminum cans are coated or lined before being used, so anyone who claims they impart a metallic taste is full of poo poo. It's no different than if you were to get it out of a keg.

Grant replying to a comment from Mike / December 18, 2012 at 04:20 pm
If I'm not mistaken beer in a bottle is further away from your point than canned beer. Beer is brewed in vats which are more similar to cans. If you like bottles than stick to labatt or bud or crappy Canadian.
Sam / December 18, 2012 at 05:29 pm
Will they have a restaurant/pub attached to the new location in Leaside?
bob loblaw / December 18, 2012 at 07:35 pm
Serious question, if one was to drink one of these brews, which one is best?
die asshole replying to a comment from Big Fuckin Mega Boat / December 18, 2012 at 08:54 pm
Wow ur name should be big fucking mega tool because u don't know shit about what ur talkin about. cans ruin any beer u put in them its a scientific fact u fuckin tool
SS replying to a comment from bob loblaw / December 18, 2012 at 09:00 pm
Boneshaker IPA
BW33 replying to a comment from Sam / December 19, 2012 at 08:09 am
Sam - they won't be opening a restaurant/pub at this location, but they are opening their brewpub at the old location of Pier 4 on Queens Quay.
Classy replying to a comment from die asshole / December 19, 2012 at 09:32 am
While I'm sure everyone appreciates "ur" thoughtful contribution to the conversation, simply saying "its a scientific fact" does not make it so. You'll notice the people who commented before you had some actual evidence to support their case.
Me replying to a comment from die asshole / December 19, 2012 at 09:44 am
Someone who can't write basic English telling us about science? HAHAHAHAAA!!!! Um, what did you even SAY???
Big Fuckin Mega Tool replying to a comment from die asshole / December 19, 2012 at 10:46 am
In light of the insurmountable evidence you're provided, I guess my only option is to concede. You've truly exposed me as the tool I am. I'm off to the woods to commit Hara-Kiri.

Lorenzo (Porkchop) / December 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm
I said it before and i upsetted some people but ill say it again. Amsterdam beer is quite possibly the worst tasting beer on the planet! They should be paying us to drink that stuff.
bob loblaw replying to a comment from Lorenzo (Porkchop) / December 22, 2012 at 09:56 pm
I think you must have forgotten all of the steelback beers. As putrid and off putting as the owner.
Tim replying to a comment from Lorenzo (Porkchop) / December 23, 2012 at 10:35 am
You're a moron. Have you tried any of their Adventure Brews series? They make some fairly average lagers (which sell really well) but they also make a handful of awesome experimental beers that are phenomenal.
Gline replying to a comment from Roget / December 23, 2012 at 02:57 pm
Come on, getting to Leaside IS NOT a pain in the ass; the Leaside bus (which you take from Eglington station) will get you there, and and you get off in front of the brewery. How hard could it be?
Reg Hartt / July 7, 2014 at 09:03 am
Have a beer with Bugs Bunny's sister.

This is from Reg Hartt personally. If you do not know who I am google “Reg Hartt.” You will see that lots of people do.
In October I am bringing the daughter of animation director Tex Avery to Toronto.
Tex Avery is second only to Walt Disney in importance in the animation field. Told at the start of his career to make his films as much like Walt Disney as possible Tex knew the only person the public wanted to see make films like Walt was named either Disney or Lantz. His one rule became to ask himself, “What would Disney do?” Then Tex went as far as possible in the opposite direction.
It was in his films that the Warner Brothers style of animation was established and the key characters of Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fuidd and Bugs Bunny were introduced and/or perfected.
Tex left Warners when the ending was cut top one of his films, He arrived at MGM where cartoon producer Fred Quimby said, “Son, we don’t want your Warner Brothers rowdyism in our MGM cartoons.” Old Fred was so astute that when Hanna Barbera introduced cartoon stars TOM AND JERRY he said, “Boys, there is nothing funny about a cat chasing a mouse.” That did not stop Fred from accepting the many Academy Awards the series won.
Tex decided he did not want to work at MGM. He set out to get fired. Instead he wound up with a fifteen year contract. He made insanely brilliant films.
I wanted to bring Tex Avery to Toronto. I had brought many other animation legends (Bob Clampett, FrizFreleng, Grim Natwick, Shamus Culhane, Tisse David). Tex, unfortunately, died of cancer Labor Day Weekend 1980.
Last week I discovered that Tex’s daughter Nancy Avery-Arkley, is one of my long time facebook friends. I invited her to come up to honor her dad. She is coming October 25, 26.
Nancy sent me a picture of herself from a film festival in Italy where the beer bottle in her hand had been air-brushed out. I told Nancy that in any pictures taken here the beer bottle will be left in.
Then I thought, “What would Tex do? What would Bugs Bunny do?”
Of course, I realized Tex and Bugs, iconoclasts that they are, would welcome beer.
So I am inviting you to get in touch with me if you would like your beer to be the beer in the hand of Bugs Bunny’s sister, Nancy Avery-Arkley in any and all pictures that get taken.
Heck, I also invite your art department to come up with a life size cut-out of Bugs Bunny with not a carrot but your beer in his hand (just make sure they put Bugs Bunny Copyright & Trademark Warner Brothers on it). As this is for a onetime event and not for national marketing purposes no licenses need be acquired.

Heck, it is to honor the father of Bugs Bunny, Tex Avery who was, being from Texas, a man who loved his beer. How often does something this much fun come along?

Reg Hartt (416-603-6643)
Other Cities: Montreal