Q. How can I find out which beers you have available in bottles at any given time?
A. You can check our bottle shop page.
Q. Is your website up to date? It only shows two available bottles right now.
A. The website is very accurate and updated at least once a day, but often even more. However, if a beer sells out midday the website can be off for a half an hour or so. In cases of special releases that sell quite rapidly, we also do our best to give updates on social media.
Q. My favourite Bellwoods beer is [insert your favourite Bellwoods beer here]. You don’t have it right now but I need it more than anyone else needs it. When can I expect its return and can you send me a personal notification?
A. Even though the new production brewery will help us to create slightly larger volumes of your favourite styles, we likely won’t have every Bellwoods banger on offer at all times. If it’s a special release or barrel-aged beer you’re after, it might only come out once a year. Most other beers will make appearances quite frequently, and a great way to get the heads up that [your favourite beer] is coming down the pipeline, is by subscribing to our newsletter. We’re sure you can appreciate that personal notifications would be tricky to balance with such a volume of people to alert, but luckily we have a slew of social media accounts to update you on our latest releases.
Q. I’d like to purchase a gift card. How can I do that in Toronto? And outside Toronto?
A. You’re such a thoughtful person! Gift cards can easily be purchased in person, at our retail store, where you’ll be given a physical card that just so happens to be rechargeable. If you don’t live in the area, you can purchase a gift card online. These will be emailed or texted to your recipient upon purchase.
Q. Can I buy your merch online?
A. At this time the only place you can buy our swanky merch is in person, at our retail store, but we’re working on launching a small online store very soon. We’ll keep you posted!
Q. Do you take your bottles back?
A. We don’t have the facilities, equipment, or space to process used bottles (it’s a more complicated issue involving increased water usage, urban space constraints, and storage logistics that we’d be happy to discuss in more detail via email) but luckily you can return your empty Bellwoods Brewery beer bottles to any Beer Store for a deposit refund.
Q. Do you sell or fill growlers?
A. The short answer is no. The longer answer is that we have a love/hate relationship with them. On one hand, beer drinkers enjoy them so much. On the other, there’s our lack of space, the reduced fill quality to contend with, and the fact that we can’t force people to drink them in one sitting (beer in a growler doesn’t stay good for long). Back in the dark ages of 2012 we used to make employees clean them out by hand but then there was an uprising and a lot of tomatoes were thrown at us. So we had to put an end to them (the growlers, not the employees). If we find a superior, convenient filling option, and stumble upon lots of storage space, perhaps we’ll reintroduce them one day.
Q. I love the labels so much – who designs those beautiful things?
A. The amazing design team at Doublenaut! We cannot say enough great things about these talented guys. In the retail store we sell posters, sweatshirts, tees, and patches with their designs.
Q. Do you take reservations?
A. We don’t – but our hosts are amazing and will get you a table just as quickly as possible. During cooler months, from Sunday to Thursday, we’re happy to take down your name and number and shoot you a text when a table is ready. It’s good to keep in mind though, that our space is petite, and in general we recommend enjoying it in smaller groups. If you’re planning a high stakes event like a birthday or bachelor/bachelorette, it’s best to opt for an establishment that takes reservations.
Q. What are these ‘Witching Hours’ I heard about?
A. A very magical time of the day (the first two hours of service) when our draft beers are discounted. The Witching Hours begin in late fall, and end in early spring each year.
Q. I have a complicated relationship with gluten. What can I drink that isn’t water?
A. No worries, we’ve got you covered! We offer a fantastic selection of local and imported ciders, in bottles, and often on draft.
Q. Do you serve wine/spirits/bottles of Dom/Burt Reynolds shots?
A. No. In the brewpub we serve almost exclusively beer (with the exception of cider). This may seem extreme to some, but our space is limited and the lineups can be long, so we’d love if everyone who really wants to enjoy a beer here can get the chance to do so. We’re passionate about beer, and have created an environment where it’s the focus. Luckily Ossington has lots of great bars to enjoy cocktails and wine and they’re only steps away!
Q. This long line you speak of…How long are we talking?
A. Depending on the time of year (summer is generally our busiest time, winter our least) our line up can look a bit intimidating but I'm going to give it to you straight: if you are a group of 2-4 your wait is usually a very bearable 10-20 minutes long. If you are a group of 8-10 with others joining later in the evening, you might have more trouble.
Q. I just tried one of your beers with Brettanomyces (Brett) but it’s not sour. What gives?
A. Brett is a family of wild yeasts that can produce a range of flavours and aromas – but it doesn’t make beer sour. In our experience, both brewing with and tasting Brett beers, we feel it's more accurate to say that Brett produces funky, (sometimes) mildly tart -- but definitely not sour flavours. Something to take into consideration is whether or not the Brett was used in primary fermentation or not. When used in primary (meaning it's the first yeast the wort meets) as in our Brettal Head, it contributes soft fruity flavours, with no real detectable funk. Brett funk generally emerges during conditioning and aging, after primary fermentation. In barrel-aging beers with Brett, we seek to produce notes of leather, barnyard, cherry pie, fruity esters, and/or organic acids. Together, or in unique combinations, these qualities contribute to a complex and delicious beer. As you can see, this is a big can of worms to open. If you want to read more on the topic, this response from Chad Yakobson (of Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project and The Brett Project respectively) is a great guide.
In addition, the book Wild Brews is a fantastic resource.
Feel free to email us if you have more questions.
Q. But you do make sour beers, don’t you?
A. We do! Our sour beers utilize the pH dropping prowess of various bacterial strains (lactobacillus, pediococcus, and others). One complicating factor is that you might try a sour beer of ours, that also has Brett in it. Rest assured the sourness comes from the bacteria, the funkiness and layered flavours from the Brett. Certainly though, Brett and bacteria as a team can create highly delicious beers.
Q. All this talk of barrel-aging and yet last night I tried 'X' and it didn't have very much barrel character. Did you guys screw up?
A. This is an excellent question, I'm glad you asked! The use of barrels in aging beer facilitates three main objectives:
1. They can impart flavours of wood and the custom toasts applied to each barrel. These sorts of flavour/aroma characteristics can include: vanilla, marshmallow, oak, coconut and caramel.
2. They can impart flavours from the previous spirit housed in the barrel. Red wine barrels impart tannic, tart flavours, Cognac barrels impart boozy whiskey-like flavours, etc. But of course, 'old use' oak barrels have been emptied and filled enough times that they no longer impart flavours of their former spirit.
3. The porous nature of the wood can house (good/desirable) bacteria and wild yeast, allowing for long-term souring and the creation of delicate esters. In essence, the wood is a perfect environment for the wild bugs. This case specifically explains why sour or Brett-heavy beers aren't 'barrel bombs.' Sometimes the goal is to capitalize on only one of these objectives, other times we make a beer that utilizes a combination of these barrel-aided flavours.
Q. Can you tell me which beers are good/bad for cellaring? And at what temperature should I keep my cellar at?
A. As a general rule, you don't want to cellar any of our hoppy beers, as they're meant to be enjoyed as fresh as possible (AFAP!). That also means that if you buy a Witchshark for a buddy of yours who lives in New York, and it takes you 8 months to reconnect with said buddy, it's highly likely that your double IPA won't put the same skip in your step as you once remember it doing.
Hops are sensitive things, and they just don't age well. Beers that are great for cellaring would be any of our bottle-conditioned releases. These beers are carbonated naturally in the bottle (with the addition of champagne yeast and a bit of sugar for that hungry yeast to snack on), and grow more complex with age (just like us, we hope). You might even want to sit on a bottle of Grandma’s Boy or Motley Cru, and then try it in a vertical tasting with next year's release. A lot of these bottle-conditioned beers contain Brettanomyces, which continues to perform magic as it ages, adding layers of complex flavour. When it comes to temperature, the general guideline is cooler than room temp but warmer than a fridge.
Q. I just opened a bottle-conditioned Bellwoods release and it gushed like crazy! What's going on?
A. No worries, ever heard of poppin' bottles? Of course you have. Well, the principle is similar. These beers are conditioned in the bottle with champagne yeast (and sometimes Brett as well), and can therefore attain champagne levels of pressure. That's a lot going on in one 500ml bottle. Treat them like the delicate flowers that they are -- don't agitate them, don't store them on their side, and cool them for a good 12 hours before serving. Gushing is most likely to happen if you carried the bottle home in a backpack, open it warm, or store it on its side. People underestimate us when we recommend 12 hours of upright refrigeration, but we’re not joking. Or course, if you followed all the guidelines and still have issues, get in touch and we’re happy to solve the problem.
Q. I like the cut of your jib. Can I get on a mailing list?
A. You sure can. Each month we send out a super informative newsletter with bad jokes, decent pictures, and the very first hints about beer releases, events, and brewery anecdotes. Often times we veer off topic into nonsensical meanderings on construction-related insomnia, inappropriate music choices in a brewery (Shaggy, Nickelback, and whoever sings “Who Let The Dogs Out” are banned, even for comedic value), or fugitive zoo animals set loose in the city. Perhaps you’ll just have to take our word for it, that it’s worth your while. Sign up at the bottom of the homepage.