Guelph’s newest craft brewer is already growing.
Fixed Gear Brewing is not even one year into its Alma Street location in the heart of The Junction neighbourhood and they’re already opening a second facility in a spot that’s quite familiar to local craft beer lovers.
President Mike Oosterveld was presented with the opportunity to buy Guelph-based StoneHammer Brewing in fall 2018 after it went out of business.
He said purchasing the brewery at Elmira Road and Speedvale Avenue was something he could not pass up, even as the first location was still getting off the ground.
“It came too early in our young life to really take on something so significant,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.
“But having not taken the risk, looking at where I am today, it would’ve been a much greater risk to not take advantage of this.”
It was a convenient purchase that featured several massive tanks, a canning line, refrigeration units, a lab and skids of old tall cans that were left behind.
“Taking the first step into the brewery and looking at the brewhouse, I knew that this was an incredible opportunity,” Oosterveld said. “To see something already together, well thought-out and proven design is invaluable.”
He said the new brewery gives him, his head brewer, Mike, and about a dozen other employees much more space than they currently have at their Alma Street location.
They can lager massive amounts of beer, whereas Alma Street can specialize in small batches.
But Oosterveld said the big bonus is having a copper kettle at the new location.
“You don’t see many copper kettles in Ontario, if not Canada anymore,” he said. “Having a flame brew underneath that copper kettle creates a really unique level of caramelization that we can adjust and play with, and make an incredible-tasting beer.”
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But two locations presents new challenges for a company that is already very new to the market.
Ooserveld said it’s been hard to weather the storm, but it’s nothing he didn’t anticipate.
“There’s a lot of back and forth and additional bills that go with two facilities. It’s been very capital-intensive,” he said.
He expects things to get better once the new brewery is fully operational and their product makes it into the LCBO, which he says they are very close to.
While the new brewery will fall under the Fixed Gear name, the SoneHammer brand will be kept alive since Oosterveld also purchased their recipes as well.
“The StoneHammer Dark will be the first one we’re going to able to launch, but there’s the coffee stout, there’s the Baltic Porter and many more that consumers haven’t had a chance to taste,” he said.
They plan to roll out some of those beers within the next few months. That’s on top of the 12 Fixed Gear branded beers they brew as well.
With a grand re-opening scheduled for Friday, Oosterveld has spruced up the place with a new taproom that wasn’t there before. It features six taps at the bar and 10 brands for sale in the refrigerator to start off with.
There is also a merchandise area, accessible washrooms and what Oosterveld calls regulated German-style beer garden tables.
The dog-friendly establishment also features a patio and customers can order in food, including from a bistro right next door that will walk the order over.
Beer lovers are invited to join in on Friday’s celebration between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. that will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a free barbecue and tours of the facility.