The Dupont Update


Rear View looking south.

Well by golly it's 2015 and we're all still standing. Happy New Year folks!

Over the past two years here at Bellwoodsland, come December, we've been in the habit of looking back at the year in review. We recount the big beer releases that have come and gone, reminisce about our favourite events, and inevitably, come to realize just how much has changed in 365 whirlwind days. From this perspective the year often looks quite impressive, and the nostalgia of remembering helps us to forget the day-to-day (and sometimes month long) blinding stress fogs that rolled in and out.

But as the opening credits to 2015 appeared on the horizon, we had to admit that it didn't feel like there was too much we should rehash about 2014. It's not that it wasn't a big year for us, because it most certainly was, it's just that it was the first year we reported on so regularly, as it all happened. It was in and around our anniversary in April that the weekly blog posts begun, and we've been making it a point to publish something every Friday, whether it's an announcement about upcoming beer releases, brewing industry opinion pieces, or short, informative articles about everything from hops, to beer colour, and the evolution of a recipe. Those archives are as close as we're gonna get to scrapbooking, and they're chock full of beery goodness, so check them out if you're new to us.

And though we were pretty transparent about the year, there's definitely something that we've been hush hush about -- the production brewery on Dupont.

Back in August we released the news that we had been working for quite some time to secure a location that would become the future home of Bellwoods 2.0. Part of securing a good building involved canvassing the surrounding areas to get neighbourhood support as part of the municipal zoning approval process. As business owners who have already opened up a brewpub, we know how important it is to have the support of your neighbours, and communicate the extent of your plans -- and in doing that we could no longer keep all those plans to ourselves. A few people started asking questions, the ol' internet caught wind of our project, and before the details were fully ironed out, it was made clear to us that if we didn't make the announcement, someone else would. So announce we did.

But the announcement was made under pressure, and came earlier than we had hoped. For this reason we went a while with no further updates.

The dust has since settled quite a bit and there's more we can tell you, finally. Recent meetings have gone well, less recent meetings have gone well, more stacks of papers have been signed, and we feel better about sharing some of our future plans.

Because we're finally through the process of getting zoning approvals, much of what we can communicate to you has to do with how the building will be used. Although at first glance it appears that we'll have so much room to work with, the expansion is not that huge of a growth spurt. Yes, the new space will be a welcome addition, and yes we'll be able to keep up with demand and work with more licensees, but we're definitely not setting our sights on global domination. The actual footprint of 950 Dupont isn't huge, so much of the last 6 months has been devoted to doing geotechnical testing (soil compression!) to ensure that we can utilize the height of the building, and that the ground can bear the load of a 2nd story mezzanine with lots of heavy equipment on it.

For now we feel the most exciting news lies in the new brewhouse and fermentors (that's where the 'heavy equipment' comes into play), because they'll be set up quite differently than a lot of other breweries. Instead of a main floor brewhouse (which we must admit, is the most straight-forward layout), we'll be building a mezzanine layer 18 feet above the main floor, and it's on this level that the brewhouse will sit, in front of 10 fermentors (at least initially...). In addition to that gaggle of tanks, the mezzanine will also be home to our hot and cold liquor tanks, base malt, and spent grain collector. When I imagine leading a group of people on a tour up there as a brew is in full swing and sunlight is shining in through the expansive windows, I almost get a little teary eyed. Either that or someone's chopping onions.

On the rear roof facing north we'll have a large green space, a seasonal beer garden, and room to host private events. The main floor will, among many things, house a large barrel room/cellar with potential for beer tasting dinners and events, and a brewpub akin to Bellwoods 1.0 on the western plank, complete with a patio along Dovercourt. And I suppose we'll also have to find room somewhere to put our fleet of newly acquired foudres (which are unfortunately empty and sitting in storage)...

(Don't know what a foudre is? Voila!)

Of course, there are still lots of things we can't tell you, the big one being whether or not we'll be able to have a second retail store. But we're working and fighting, and based on what we're hearing through the proverbial grapevine, we're cautiously optimistic about our chances. We'll bring you any updates as quickly as we can.

For now though, that concludes our virtual tour of Bellwoods 2.0. In our next instalment of Brewery Life, we'll bring you...fancy architectural drawings and our future plans for the current Bellwoods brewpub on Ossington.