Severns Brewery

Breweries from Toronto's past

Brew pub enthusiasts in Toronto were struck a blow last month when news broke that Duggan's Brewery has gone deadpool (Thankfully, production will continue at Cool Beer). Unfortunate as it is, however, Duggan's fate is not a particularly unusual one. Toronto has welcomed, and subsequently said goodbye to many local breweries over time, some disappearing outright and others being absorbed by larger brewing companies. And while many of these beers have been long forgotten, some digging through Toronto archives may reveal an original Severns Ale label, or even a little bottle of something on eBay. So, just you know what you're looking for, here is a list of a few local breweries from Toronto's past.

Denison's Brewing
Since we're talking about Duggan's, it's only appropriate that we start with Denison's Brewing, which occupied the space at 75 Victoria Street before Duggan's moved in. It was there from 1989 to 2003, producing its Bavarian-style beers including its Weissbier and Dunkel, which are still brewed today at the Cool Beer Brewing Company in Etobicoke. Denison's website cautiously alludes to reintroducing other labels.

Upper Canada Brewing Company
The Upper Canada Brewing Company, founded by Frank Heaps in 1985, was considered one of the first independent microbreweries in Toronto. It made its ales and lagers according to the Bavarian Purity Act of 1516, coming out with its flagship Lager and Dark Ale, followed by its Colonial Stout, Pale Ale, Winter Brew, and more. Upper Canada was bought by Sleeman in 1998, and production moved to Guelph where it continues today.

Yorkville/Severn Brewery
Yes, before designer handbags and pricey groceries, George Severn operated a brewery (pictured above) in Yorkville, which was established around 1832. Yorkville Brewery occupied 815-819 Yonge Street, made up of a five-storey brewery and three-storey malt house. According to records, Yorkville Brewery produced an average of 200,000 gallons annually of beers including its Severn Ale.

Reinhardt & Co.
Reinhardt & Co. is another brewery found in your 1800's history book. It occupied 87 to 93 Duchess Street (now Richmond Street), established in 1859 by John Walz. In 1881, the company was taken over by Bavaria-born L. Reinhardt, who oversaw the production of the brewery's lagers, which were enjoyed all over Canada. Old Chum Lager Beer, anyone?

The Don Brewery
Now loft apartments, River Street north of Queen was once home to the Don Brewery. The Davies family ran the business throughout the 19th century, proudly operating its English-made corking machine and two large kilns for the malting department. According to some records, Robert Davies owned a whopping 144 taverns in Toronto during the peak of his wealth. Don must have had some fine-selling beers.

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