Domestic beer is old news. Craft beer is the way of the future, and the industry is booming in the GTA.Tucked away in a small factory in southern Etobicoke is a little piece of heaven for beer lovers.
The Canadian craft beer industry is one that is constantly growing. According to Beer Canada, in 2012 there were only 90 craft breweries across the province of Ontario. That number has hopped up, in 2016 the province accounted for 240 breweries, which is the most by any province in Canada.
Black Oak Brewing Co. is one of the originators of the craft brewing industry in Ontario. The brewery was created by Ken Woods, in 1999 in Oakville, Ont. In 2008, the company made their big move to Etobicoke and have resided there ever since.
“Craft beer sort of goes back to the root of beer, where it’s all single-batched made, and it’s all about the flavour, all about the taste of beer, and also the experience, a lot of people don’t really like beer that doesn’t have any flavour,” says Woods.
There is a presiding notion that millennials are the driving force behind the boom in the craft beer industry, and Woods recognizes their importance and the difference back in his day.
“I do agree. Now, people don’t really want to drink what their parents drink, they’re looking for a bit more flavour. Being a student a long time ago, a lot of students just want the cheap stuff, and just drink a lot of it,” said Woods.
The biggest difference between domestic beer companies and craft breweries is the selection and the variety that craft breweries provide.
“People are starting to realize there’s different styles, there’s different malts, there’s different yeasts, and breweries are offering all kinds of good selections,”says Woods.
“It’s not like you’re stealing the beers from out of your parent’s fridge when you’re a kid. “
Ken Woods, Owner of Black Oak Brewing Co.
Woods adds, “Now you got a whole bunch more things to choose from. It’s fun just to have those options, and have that different range of flavours to choose from, and it’s a bit of an adventure going out to find them.”
Matthew Borg, a beer enthusiast, shared why he grew up a domestic beer fan. “I grew up only drinking Coors, but as I got older I realized how naïve I was. It was my dad’s favourite beer so it became mine too,” said Borg.
Borg revealed how he switched from domestic to craft beer. “One day I was out at the LCBO and thought why not try these local craft beers, and it was an eye-opener. The flavours that I got was nothing that I had experienced before, and there was no way I was going back. I went from having one flavour year-round to having different tastes for different times of year,” said Borg.
With the later months of the year approaching, Woods provides his recommendations of types of beers to look out for this season.
“Different beers go good in different times of year. Some people think darker beers in darker months, some people think lighter beers in warmer months,” said Woods.
Woods recommended their Nutcracker Porter for the winter-time, which the brewery advertised as, “perfect for the cold-weather season”, one of the beers it showcased at their recent event.
Black Oak Brewing Co. hosted a brand-new event on November 25, a Crafts + Beer Market, with the purpose of celebrating local handmade artists from the GTA and the neighbouring areas.
Brittany Bateman, Marketing and Events Manager for Black Oak Brewing, wanted to raise awareness of the company with the event. “Our main objective was to say, ‘Hey, we’re here!’ We really wanted to reach out and show that we want to be a part of the Etobicoke community,” said Bateman.
In their thirst to become integrated into the community, 50 per cent of the tickets sales went to the Furniture Bank, a charity that helps give furniture to families in need.
Black Oak Brewing hosts seasonal parties to celebrate and showcase the release of their new beers.
Visit http://www.blackoakbeer.com/ for more information, or to book a tour.