Back in July of this year, I was lucky enough to be able to visit North America for the first time since turning 21. In a two week trip, we managed to fit in no less than six breweries across two countries. You can read about my food and drink highlights from Brooklyn here, but today I've finally decided to sit down and write about Canada. More specifically, I've decided to write about Bellwoods Brewery in Toronto.
Located on the corner of a busy intersection in downtown Toronto, Bellwoods first came to my attention last year when I stumbled across a video about the brewery on Vice's website. Watching Luke (Pestl) and Mike (Clark) blending barrel-aged beers on the other side of the world, I was instantly sold and resolved to visit as soon as possible. Thankfully the opportunity arose less than twelve months later.
The brewery and brewpub was founded by Pestl and Clark, both former brewers and college dropouts, in April 2012, and has quickly become a crucial fixture of the Toronto beer scene (so much so that the brewery has bought up a second production facility in the north of the city). Popular breweries in the US often attract huge queues outside on the day of special releases, and its much the same here at Bellwoods. We arrive shortly after opening, but the outside area is already bustling with people, despite the presence of a nearby house fire and no less than four fire engines.
We are seated and served at the table by a friendly and smiling waitress, and jump straight in with a couple of pours of Jutsu, the brewery's hazy, low bitterness pale ale. Brewed with Vermont ale yeast and weighing in at 5.6% ABV, Jutsu is an excellently balanced beer that more than stands up to its American counterparts.
By now, the brewery is heaving with people, but the standard of service never drops, and nor do the smiles on the faces of the waiting staff. Our waitress recommends we try the Tang Town, an 8% imperial IPA with passionfruit puree, and some of the pickled vegetables. She makes a good call on both accounts; the beer is tart and fruity and the pickles brined to perfection. Before we depart, I duck past the now quite considerable queue of people waiting to be seated to pick up a bottle of Jelly King, the brewery's dry hopped sour, from the on-site bottle shop, which also sells gorgeous merchandise and posters.
Like many breweries across the world, Bellwoods has grown far quicker than Pestl and Clark could ever have imagined, and naturally it can be hard to keep up with demand. Later this month, the brewery have invited 15 of their brewing friends from across the world to Witchstock 2017, an on-site beer festival and celebration of Bellwoods' success to date. I'd suggest this is an event you don't want to miss.