It has been just over two months since Bellwoods Brewery opened and between building their brewing operation, setting up the pub and launching a patio that doubled their capacity shortly after, they've also been getting a lot of attention for their City Hops Project, brought up a new head chef, and held their first pop-up shop. That, of course, doesn't include all the new brews that Mike Clark and Luke Pestl have up their sleeves.
Finding themselves along similar paths, both started from scientific backgrounds (Mike studied biochemistry and Luke obtained a degree in biochemical engineering), it was a love for beer that lead them to work for Amsterdam Brewery and then eventually with each other. After meeting, it was clear that they shared a similar vision and so decided to make the leap to start up their own craft brewery and restaurant.
Mike describes it as a "street-level, experimental, microbrewery where we could experiment with a number of styles and ultimately be creative." After witnessing the difficulty contract brewers have getting tank space, and knowing they wanted to experiment large portfolio of styles, they solidified their desire to create their own operation. It would give them the freedom to explore more innovative and ground-breaking brewing.
And before Bellwoods had even opened, they made their first distinct mark in the local craft brew scene. "We go through thirty, forty kilos a month [of hops] easily," mentions Luke when we ask about the development of The City Hops Project. The hop-growing sideline was never intended to supply their main production but it became a fun diversion while waiting for building permits to come in.
Hops are one of the core ingredients of beer, though Luke doesn't think it technically needs it, and there's a great variety to play with. They've planted five or six varieties so far between the roof top garden at Parts and Labour and a new space at the Brickworks. Mike Di Caro will have more tomorrow, Day 29, on the details of the City Hops Project and their plans for the harvest.
The opening of their white-picket-fenced patio perfectly matches the detailed blend of country cottage and industrial modern normally hidden behind the garage doors. It is a modern picnic spot tucked between the disparate mix of food and drink along Ossington Avenue. The menu is designed to offer interesting bar snacks that would match with beer and while helmed by Guy Rawlings, featured grilled treats on sticks and small plates. Chef recently finished his stint at Bellwoods and the kitchen has been left in the hands of Rob Julen. Rob had been working in the kitchen with Guy and is now in the process of leaving his mark on the menu. May he leave those duck hearts on the menu for all of our enjoyment.
Bellwood's beautiful patio does have one drawback: the doubled number of seats makes it more difficult to keep beer around for retail sales. They managed to bottle a few for a very successful pop-up sale a couple weeks ago and sold out of everything but their Whitchshark IPA within four hours. They are anticipating being able to hold more retail sales every few weeks and to eventually install more tanks to triple their capacity by next year to stock a full-time shop. For now, I would hang out by the bar to wait for new beers to be tapped. I'm already enjoying the richness of the new Bière De Garde and am looking forward to a traditional Baltic style Tripel that uses an American hop called Amarillo that will be ready within the next week. Or grab a bite and a pint of their Saison at Grand Electric, the Imperial IPA at The Black Hoof, and the Baltic Porter at Hoof Raw Bar which they have regularly or watch Bar Volo, The Only Cafe, and Tequila Bookworm where they make occasional appearances and Canoe, where word is they'll soon be regular feature.