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Eat & Drink

Bellwoods Brewery opens permanent retail space

Posted by Ben Johnson / January 23, 2013

bellwoods brewery retail storeJust in case there was any doubt that Bellwoods Brewery is taking the Toronto craft beer scene by storm, yesterday the brewers announced that the space they own next door to their brew pub will now act as a full time retail space.

Starting today, the space at 126 Ossington, which Bellwoods previously used to host occasional pop-up retail sales, will become the permanent home of Bellwoods Bottle Shop. For the first three days, the space will open at 5pm and remain open until 11pm, then, as of Saturday, the space will be open from noon to 11pm six days a week. On Sundays, they'll shut things down at 6pm.

I spoke to Mike Clark, who, along with Luke Pestl, is one of Bellwoods' founders and co-owners, about how bottle sales will help the already popular brewery grow even more.

"The main thing is that it will allow us to reach many more people. With the exception of the occasional pop up sale, up until now we've only been selling by the glass in our bar and in kegs to 10-15 local establishments. We recently tripled our capacity to keep the retail store open full time, and also to get our existing wholesale customers a regular supply," he says.

"Anyone who's interested in our beer can now come by the brewery and pick up bottles to enjoy at home. Our license gives us the benefit of extended hours over the LCBO and Beer Store, which is great."

Indeed, the fact that Bellwoods will offer the city's beer fans a place to pick up a few beverages up until 11pm is certain to help solidify the growing brewers' popularity downtown--especially given the recent departure of Amsterdam Brewery, the downtown core's only other real later-hours beer store.

The move has been in the works for some time, and the boys at Bellwoods have kept the city's beer fans drooling in recent months as they boasted the addition of equipment to more than triple their capacity, and teased social media followers with photos of their on-going work to get their retail operations up and running. Says Clark, "The retail store (and the new tanks that support it) will also allow us to focus on some of our regular brands. As we ramp up production through February and into March, we'll start featuring a core group of products, alongside the brewpub's more experimental offerings as they become available."

Now that they're ready to open their retail doors, their initial offering will include 650ml bottles and growlers ranging in price from $4.75-$8 ($14 for growlers) and will offer a number of styles including Muggleweisse (a light sour brown ale), Petal Head (a dry hopped saison), and my pick for the best session ale made in Ontario, the so-easy-to-drink, 4.1% ABV Bellwoods Common.

"We'll also be using 750ml bottles for some barrel-aged products and/or bottle conditioned products, and we'll be moving towards a growler fill program, but that won't be up and running until March. Until then people can purchase new growlers or exchange for pre-filled growlers if we have them in stock," Clark says.

But don't expect a lot of bells and whistles at 126 Ossington just yet. "People can expect to feel like they're walking into a functioning part of our production space," says Clark, "because they are. We're not setting up a slick retail space--it's basically a kiosk beside our short-term barrel storage and cellar space. And of course--the eternal caveat--everything is perpetually under construction around here."

Given how far they've come in just one year (already their Witchshark Imperial IPA ranks among the best 25 beers in Canada according to Ratebeer, they've received international shout-outs from the likes of The New York Times, won a gold medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards, and were chosen by acclaimed beer writer Stephen Beaumont as the Ontario Brewery of The Year), there's no doubt that retail beer sales are just one more step in their perpetually improving business. And if the results thus far are any indication, I'm sure Toronto's beer fans can deal with a little construction dust.

For complete details of what's available for sale today and what's happening next at the brewery, check out Bellwoods Brewery's website.



YES / January 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm
I have been waiting goddamn months to drink this beer. I can't wait.
MOC / January 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm
YES -- you could've just popped into the bar next door to try it instead of depriving yourself by waiting.
Mr Kanyo / January 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm
11pm 6 nights a week? Awesome.
Christopher / January 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm
Hoping to see that Monogamy with the Nelson Sauvin hops and Mashpipe in bottles. Anyone know if those will be available?
Bob / January 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm
11PM - 6 days a week....Welcome to Quebec, almost!
MOC / January 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm
Current available bottle list here: http://bellwoodsbrewery.com/retail
Christopher replying to a comment from MOC / January 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm
One of two ain't bad! Thanks!
johnsonstarfish / January 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm
I will never visit or support the Beer Store or LCBO again. This is all you need.
Rodney / January 23, 2013 at 01:28 pm
Will the retail space be open on holidays? Like the Amsterdam, COOL, etc. Its always worth the visit on a holiday when other places are forced to close. Some of the summer long weekends the long line ups were worth the wait to get some beers on a holiday. It would be to their advantage if they could do the holiday thing...
ejr / January 23, 2013 at 01:58 pm
I seriously wish I lived (much) closer. This is amazing and a huge step up for craft beer in Toronto.
Junctionite / January 23, 2013 at 03:34 pm
This is great news! The more local brewery retail spaces the better!

There is another option in Toronto (although with much more limited hours): http://www.junctioncraftbrewing.com/jcb/?page_id=2912
Henry Mooner / January 23, 2013 at 06:47 pm
Great news indeed for Ossington and great leadership shown by the city. Imagine a few years from now if every neighbourhood has its own craft brewery (or two) and attached retail space staying open until 11pm. It'll be fun to see this movement towards local brewing spread across the city and the whole province.

Anyone wanna drive to The Beer Store to watch the one completely overwhelmed employee try to sort through 7000 sticky, fly-crusted empties while the line-up swells out the front door?? Bypass it and grab six Coors Light instead!! (crickets.)
Michael / January 24, 2013 at 09:15 am
We always like beer articles
jake / January 24, 2013 at 05:09 pm
dont understand why they have to close at 6 on Sundays.for those of us that work Sunday days,buying booze after work is a real hassle. is it a provincial regulation?
Dalton replying to a comment from jake / January 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm
Chris! / January 26, 2013 at 02:58 pm
Open until 11pm SIX DAYS A WEEK? But what of Toronto's precious moral fabric??

Also, pretty sure that you can't buy alcohol after 6 on Sundays because it tears families apart and makes Jesus sad. Thanks for saving our souls, Ontario!
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