Jonathon Liedtke – ourWindsor.ca – June 19, 2013
Grab your favourite pint glass, purchase a growler of craft beer and kick your feet up, Ontarians! It’s Ontario Craft Beer Week.
The craft brewing industry employs more than 650 people across the province and roughly 50 microbreweries create over 150 international beer style. We love our ale in this province and The Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment has taken notice and is highlighting the growing industry.
“Ontario’s craft brewing industry is a fast-growing industry, helping to grow our economy and create jobs while making a top-quality product,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment in a media release. “As our province’s craft brewers continue to receive international attention for the work they do, Ontarians across the province are proud of their talented local brewers and our government is proud to support them.”
Ontario Craft Beer Week coincided with Father’s Day and as such, many breweries across the province offered Father’s Day promotions.
“There are economic benefits to a thriving craft been industry,” said Brigitte Marleau, the Sr. Advisor, Media and Communications at the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. “For example, more than 650 people are employed by craft brewers and about 20% of beer-making jobs in Ontario are in craft brewing and the industry is currently the largest buyer of Ontario grown hops.”
Marleau explained that there are 47 microbreweries – up from 40 in 2004 – which are currently licensed to operate and produce craft beer in Ontario.
“The craft beer industry is the fastest growing segment within the LCBO’s beer category,” said Marleau. “In 2012, Ontario’s craft beers led LCBO sales in all categories, including wine and spirits, with nearly 45 per cent sales growth.”
Marleau added that last month at the Canadian Brewing Awards, Ontario craft brewers took home 31 medals.
“Through the Ontario Microbrewery Strategy, the province is helping small brewers explore new marketing, training and tourism development opportunities,” said Marleau. “Providing the right climate to attract investment, create jobs and grow the economy is part of the new Ontario government’s plan to build a prosperous and fair province.”
Walkerville Brewery, Windsor’s only microbrewery, kicked off the week with a special Father’s Day promotion.
“We’ve had great response [and] the community has been great and supporting us,” said Chris Ryan, manager Walkerville Brewery.
Ryan explained that his brewery recently became members of the Ontario Craft Beer Association and he believes that the membership will prove to be a good move. “They’re a very good lobby group, everybody seems to work very well together, and we’re all after the common goal of making our beer more readily available.”
In 2008, the Ontario Government funded $8-million over the course of four years to create the Ontario Craft Brewers Opportunity Fund. The fund included up to $1.8-million for Ontario small brewers producing less than 300,000 hectolitres of beer annually, a 6-litre grant for sales of craft beer up to $1-million per brewery annually, funding to be used to support business development and expansion and $200,000 to the Ontario Craft Brewers Association annually.
Due to increased demand during the summer months from festivals and other events and activities, Walkerville Brewery has reduced their selection of beer down to three and plans to reintroduce their Autumn Rye Ale come September.
“We’re about three months away from [the one-year anniversary], It’s been an interesting nine months,” said Ryan. “There’s a lot of things we’ve learnt in the first nine months that we can improve on, there’s some things that the market [gave] us that we didn’t anticipate, so we have to change strides a little bit, but apart from that, we’re going to keep on moving forward.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.