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Field Trip: Canada

There is nothing more addicting than visible forward progress.

In the past few weeks leading up to this one, we’ve jackhammered two concrete stairways and a trench drain, installed said trench drain, built all of the necessary frames, and poured two batches of the high-strength, fiber-reinforced, ever-so-slightly graded concrete. If you’re reading this, you probably saw the pictures our the last post. Needless to say, it was awesome finally reaching the tipping point of starting to build rather than to demolish. And now we are proud owners of one sexy-as-hell concrete floor… there is nothing more addicting than visible forward progress.


So after that big milestone, we decided to take a break from the manual labor and go on a field trip. Field trips are essential for us as a young company. They give us a break from focusing on our own business and vision, and instead let us focus on seeing what can be accomplished by likeminded individuals. We’re in the final stages of shopping around for equipment, and were invited up to Niagara Falls by Criveller, the manufacturing company that we have chosen to build our brewing system. So we all piled into Rutherford, the black Ford Ranger that has become the war horse of The Brew Gentlemen Beer Co., and we headed north.

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We arrived in Niagara Falls on Monday afternoon to meet with the Criveller folks, and were given a tour of the facility and a look at some of the systems that were in the process of being built. On Tuesday we dipped back into upstate New York to check out the Woodcock Brothers Brewing Co., a brand-new brewery and restaurant that’s working with a new Criveller system. And then, on Wednesday headed north to Toronto on Wednesday for one night of R&D: Research & Debauchery.

Woodcock Brothers Brewing Co., Wilson, NY

Toronto is a fantastic city. Having spent the past five years living in Pittsburgh and being used to a friendly, small city vibe, big cities can seem a bit overwhelming at times. But Canada lives up to its stereotypical friendliness, and Toronto was in no way overwhelming. We did a fair amount of exploration, with each new destination usually based on a recommendation by the patrons and staff of the previous establishment. Two locations stood out to us as hugely inspirational.

barVolo, Toronto

BarVolo is a small, almost café-like beer and whiskey bar in downtown Toronto, sporting an impressive draft list. A rustic little spot with wooden everything, they are purveyors of some rather adventurous fare; not a wasteland of flagship pale ales and pilsners, but rich with selections containing things such as brettanomyces, hibiscus, pinot noir barrel-aging, oak chips, peppercorns and gruit. Although we had the rest of the evening ahead of us, we could have easily spent four days sitting by the wood-burning stove and drinking wonderful and unique beers.

We were wide-eyed with giddy, slightly buzzed excitement by the time we got into Bellwoods Brewery. And just as we did when we set foot inside barVolo, our jaws dropped upon taking in the interior. Bellwoods is a perfect model for what kind of brewery we want to become. From the selection to the decor, they are absolutely nailing it. Sitting at a narrow bar on the balcony overlooking the brewing system, we tasted bold and delicious beers over boards of delicate meats and rich cheeses.

Given that it was rather dimly lit and I didn’t want to be that asshole taking flash photos, we don’t have any photos of the place, so here’s one from a Torontoist article about them. This place is freaking gorgeous.

Bellwoods Brewery, Toronto

All in all, this trip was a success that has provided us with plenty of inspiration and stories. We don’t often get the chance to break out of our Pittsburgh bubble, so the trip was a breath of fresh air. Which is probably good, considering that we spent a solid month breathing concrete dust.

Time to get back to that forward progress.

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