A Dupont Update, A Word On Hafis


There can be embarrassing moments in a brewery, say for example when you're watching the welders replace the stack on the kettle that (up until 24 hours ago) was previously held together with duct tape, in which you ask yourself why it took so long to get around to doing 'x'. In actuality, 'x' might not even be such a big thing, but buried under more pressing priorities and time-sensitive meetings, it's cast aside until the day you finally open up the kettle and the door comes off completely, plummeting to the floor in a cacophonous crash that just screams: "CALL A PROFESSIONAL".

But there's something more important than our kettle door that we've been meaning to tell you about for a while now, it's just that we've been really busy holding this place together, quite literally, with duct tape, and haven't had the chance to sit down to write a proper update until now. Luckily, we just used painter's tape on some cords next door to fix the nagging problem with the internet cutting out, so we should be good for at least the 30 minutes it takes to jot down this brief but exciting update.

Due to the ever-active rumour mill and all the questions it's recently spurred, this news is emerging slightly ahead of schedule -- but we feel it's important you get the information directly from us. Many of you already know that we're working towards opening a second brewery at 950 Dupont Street in the former Hamilton Gear and Machine building. Many of you also know that the Dupont facility is behind schedule. Very few of you know that in order to attempt to deal with the delays at Dupont we’re currently building a third brewery. No, we are not crazy, (or at least this is what we tell ourselves).

The reality is, the Dupont brewery plan has always required a sibling facility for storage, barrels, and delivery support. Without this third facility we would have been forced to store everything related to Dupont production on-site, which would take away from the beauty of the space and make it less appealing for the public (booo!). With Dupont construction behind schedule by almost a year due to landlord delays, we’ve been forced to take the third facility early and install an actual brewery in it, in a desperate attempt not to run out of beer.

So, what is this Brewery #3?

It's located at 20 Hafis Road in a warehouse formerly used by Ace Bakery (beside the current Ace facilities).

We’re happy to announce that this one is fully on track. 20 Hafis Rd went through negotiations and zoning very quickly late in 2015. Plumbing and flooring work is beginning next week and our equipment will start to arrive at the end of April. The majority of the brewing tanks and the brewhouse arrive mid May. The contrasting trajectories of our two breweries-in-planning over the past year have been a source of headaches and grief, but also small triumphs and fist bumps.

Looking now to specifics, let's get you up to speed with what's been going on at the two spaces, beginning with Dupont:

-First and foremost: We’ve been flooded with inquiries and questions regarding events currently happening or planned for the Dupont building. There also seems to be a lot of confusion about whether we are putting on these events or not. Bellwoods has no connection whatsoever to any of the event rentals happening at 950 Dupont.

-Landlord delays have prevented us from completing final engineering tests, investigations, and architectural design work, the results of which are necessary for municipal building permits and the start of the landlord’s construction work. We were ready to go in June 2015, but have been unable to proceed due to the above.

-Last week we received one of the last pieces of info necessary to start working on final Dupont engineering drawings. As long as a few additional pieces fall into place in the next month we will be able to produce the final facility plans in June 2016.

- Based on that timeline the landlord will begin his major renovations this summer and will complete those renovations before the end of 2016. This will allow us to begin our renovations before the end of 2016 and open to the public in the summer of 2017.


Now onto the Hafis Rd brewery, because this is the faster moving target of the two:

-This location will have an on-site bottle shop, but not a brewpub. We're looking into the possibility of a tasting area. The first beers produced at Hafis Rd. will emerge late summer, and we'll be able to bring bottles from Hafis down to the Ossington bottle shop, so we shouldn’t have to worry about running out of beer at Ossington.

-In April we fly to Italy to inspect our new Kosme/Krones bottler, a machine that's so insanely advanced it'll likely make several grown adults weep with joy and scream "WE'RE NOT WORTHY, WE'RE NOT WORTHY!". Let's just say, if it's a speedboat ripping through the water with ease, our bottler right now is like a rowboat with only a couple sticks of uncooked spaghetti to use as paddles. We. Are. Excited.

-Our fancy, new brewhouse designed and manufactured in Canada is set to arrive in Toronto mid-May right after the fine folks at NSI ship it to the Craft Brewer's Conference in Philly, to show it off as their trade show model.

Despite the mutual excitement surrounding all things expansion, it’s definitely worth mentioning that our growth spurt is not a massive one, and we’ll still be relatively microscopic players. Our goal was to shoot for a size that would allow us to keep up with local demand, but not produce so much that our distribution channels would change dramatically, meaning that you'll still only find our beers in our retails store(s). Changes you may notice by the end of 2016 include: a more consistently varied bottle shop line up, and a slightly increased draft presence around the city. Ultimately, we’re looking forward to alleviating many of the cumbersome bottlenecks that we’ve been dealing with behind the scenes for several years now, and devoting more time to the things we love, like new recipe and process development, honing consistency, and growing our barrel aged and sour beer programs.

And the truth is, when the stress of opening these small breweries seems staggering, especially in a city where it is increasingly difficult to do so, we need only to remind ourselves that all the inner turmoil is worth it, if it means less time in the forklift playing tetris, and more time on the brewhouse making delicious beer for you (and ourselves).

Thanks for sticking around for the ride.

20 Hafis Road
20 Hafis Road