2015: The Year In Review


When the December newsletter went out at the beginning of the month, we weren't quite ready to give a recap of 2015, because the truth is 31 days is a lot of days in a brewery. Sure, it's enough time to brew, ferment, and package an entire fermentor of beer, but it's also enough time to buy a one-way ticket to Panama and decide to live out the remainder of your days in a DIY hut with the companionship of a dog named Ricky who's never heard of Twitter. We couldn't be entirely certain which camp we'd be in, so we wanted to wait until we'd weathered both the Bring Out Your Dead release and ensuing holiday festivities before we leaned against a fermentor, sighed with relief, and got reflective.

But look here, it's New Year's Eve, we made it to the other side in one piece, and it seems that a couple days off (in conjunction with guzzling several litres of egg nog) has clearly done a psyche good. We know that everyone's busy making lasting new year's resolutions, so we'll do our best to keep this brief, glossing over the highlights (and strategically omitting the low points) from 2015.

Early in the year we unveiled our new generic label, reimagined by our incredible design duo, Doublenaut. These labels incorporate a bit of everything Bellwoods Brewery, and get slapped onto any bottle that doesn't otherwise have a custom logo. The first beer style to emerge with our new generic labels? Jutsu! *Tear* Back when it was just a sparkle in our eye. (Jutsu would later get a custom label...).

Small Ontario brewers rejoiced when the legislative change came into effect (with help from awesome local MPP Cristina Martins and Finance Minister Charles Sousa), allowing breweries producing less than 25,000 hecs of beer in a year (that is so much bigger than us) to have more than one on-site brewery retail store. This change helps small breweries looking to open a second location. We celebrated!

Over the course of the year we acquired more foudres and barrels. One particular shipment of foudres (pictured in the top photo) arrived at storage and were so big they didn't fit in the door. Oh man, we laughed and laughed, and then paid through the nose to ship them to a different storage location. Oops. (Add this one to the low point column).


In April we flew to Belgium and had the pleasure of seeing our beers flowing at esteemed beer bar/destination: Moeder Lambic in Brussels. We got to visit an organic hop farm, tour Rodenbach, practice our French, and drink lambic like it was our last tipple on earth.


We announced our Homebrew Competition (to the death) and oh how you responded. We stressed the importance of deliciousness, did away with BJCP guidelines, and were entirely unprepared for the wealth of submissions we would receive. In and amongst parsnip, wild flower, garlic, and even spicy ramen beer, we chose a fantastic stout brewed with local Pilot cold brew coffee, and crowned David Everitt the winner. I did have fun, but I'm too terrified yet to say if we'll do it again next year. (We'll probably do it again next year).


Motley Cru! Our sour red anniversary barrel blend (tongue twister, I know) was a hit, and we celebrated another year on this planet with a bunch of our favourite people. You guys and gals lined up around the block for this release and sort of blew our minds with your tenacity. The memory of this occasion that best sticks out in my mind? The fact that a reflective red label is almost impossible to photograph. MENTAL NOTE FOR NEXT YEAR.


Over the year, we ended up putting quite a lot of fruit into beers. Some of those beers are still in hiding, and others were released to great success. In the summer we announced Cherry Farmageddon would go on sale, and I'm including this on our list of highlights, because I have never seen people go so (to keep the fruit theme going) B-A-N-A-N-A-S over a beer. It would go down as the fastest selling Bellwoods beer, until a certain winter release blew it out of the water...


In December, you might be aware, we released Bring Out Your Dead Imperial Stout Aged In Cognac Barrels, and it totally obliterated all other special beer release records. It trumped the small run of Motley Cru 2014, it surpassed even Cherry Farmageddon, and the sheer frenzy with which you pounced on this beer makes me think that there are now bottles all over Ontario behind lock and key. Bottles you could trade for an original VHS copy of Pumping Iron. Bottles that would get you into exclusive parties where Cirque Du Soleil acrobats dance on hoola hoops suspended from the ceiling. I'm actually kidding, and we both know that BOYD bottles don't pass for currency, but hold on to them tight my friends. There are droves of angry, thirsty people looking for them.

That more or less brings us to today, when we'd like to extend a huge thank you to everyone for all the support over the past year. We feel ridiculously lucky to come into work each day and make a living doing what we love, and it wouldn't be possible without your thirst for the good stuff. On a parting note, we imagine many of you are hoping or looking for a production brewery update. We can assure you that projections for the Dupont location haven't changed since we last checked in. The project is still moving along slowly but steadily (as anticipated), occupying a large portion of our brain space, and slated to be up and running at some point in 2017. This might not have nearly the uplifting emotional impact of a Mighty Ducks movie, but such is the reality of planning a brewery in Toronto.

HOWEVER, we do have exciting plans to bring you more beer in 2016 through resourceful means...

More on that, in January.