Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Black Oak Inching Closer to Opening

I get my fair share of e-mails from readers asking me questions about certain pubs, where to get certain beers and how to get more information about certain events, but lately I’ve received a number of inquiries regarding the progress of the new Black Oak brewery in Etobicoke. People, here in Ontario and even some from other provinces, are interested to know when the smell of beer will start to waft through the air near Black Oak’s new digs on Horner Street.

In order to please all the curious drinkers out there, I jumped into my car on Saturday and headed west through the rain to have a chat with owner Ken Woods and brew master Adrian Popowycz and to check out the new facility.

The brewery is located just off the Gardiner Expressway, accessed by getting off at Islington and heading south towards Evans. Heading west on Evans for about 10 seconds you'll reach Horner for which you'll hang a left to head south and the brewery is situated in a industrial warehouse - #75. From my place in the Beach(es) it took me 15mins to get there, door to door.

Walking in through the back door I immediately saw some of the brewing equipment and quickly took note of the amount of extra space Black Oak has to work with for future expansions. I gave a shout out and noticed Adrian near the front with some tools in his hands. Dedication. Here it is, a Saturday, and the owner and the brew master are hard at work putting the finishing touches on their new home. I located Woods in the front reception area about to make lunch and he quickly put that aside to take me on a guided tour. We’ll start in the front.

If you were to walk in through the front entrance, the first thing you would come across is the tasting/retail bar where customers will be able to purchase the quality beers brewed by Adrian. It is an old antique looking bar with a fridge situated to the right side and a cabinet directly behind it that will be home to all the plaques won by the brewery over the years.

Continuing past the bar to the right is what will be a tasting area where guests can indulge in some beer while relaxing in some comfortable chairs or stretching out on a couch. Woods mentioned that they will be taking advantage of the ‘By the Glass’ regulation that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario recently legislated, which will work out well for the brewery and their customers (brewery can sell a 12oz sample to customers who can drink it right in the brewery). There is also a small nook off to the side of the furniture where Woods plans to install a bar and possibly another serving area.

Back past the reception area and down a hallway to the left is where you’ll find some offices and a future conference room. The OCB is currently renting an office from Black Oak and Woods occupies the other and shares it with Black Oak’s wooden Squirrel mascot. We headed back out to the reception area and then out through a hallway that eventually led to the brewing area.

It is a big vast area with lots of room to grow. All the tanks are set up and ready to go and the brewery has all the drainage and piping completed. The area is evenly split down the middle. On the left hand side is all the brewing equipment, standing at attention just begging to be filled with sweet brew. The right side is where the bottles and kegs will be stored, along with a large walk in freezer that has yet to be built and a bottling machine. Woods mentioned that the walk in freezer will be very large, large enough to hold all their beer along with a good number of wooden barrels that Black Oak plans on doing some experimental brews with. Exciting.

We continued to walk and talk and I gained a visual of what I believe the brewery will look like once everything is operational. I had never made it out to Black Oak’s Oakville location, but Adrian mentioned how small it was and how this new location will be much more conducive to work in as a brewer. It will give him more opportunity to “play” with recipes, which may or may not lead to two new Black Oak seasonals?

So, back to the question I have been asked lately: When are they going to be open? I don’t know. Both Woods and Adrian mentioned that everyone has been asking them and it’s hard for them to say exactly when the day will come, but it is getting very close. They could be brewing in as early as two weeks and should be up and running full bore by Christmas. Keep your eye on the blog for more information leading up to their opening.

This spot is a little hotbed for breweries. Within a 2 kilometre radius you'll find the Cool Brewery and the Great Lakes Brewery which makes it nice for brewery crawling....if there is such a thing.

Sorry, no picture of the front of the building. It was pouring and I didn't feel like getting wet.

No comments:

Web Analytics

Winter Ale