Beginning the Folly
Goodness, a lot can happen in a year! It seems like only yesterday that we announced that Habits Gastropub was about to start brewing onsite, and now, just over a year after the initial press release we’re a full brewpub with a whole new name (but a fairly similar attitude!). We’re using this blog space in the future to chat about what we’re up to with our various projects, collaborations, and brewing philosophies; but for now, let’s relive a little history so we’re all caught up!
This time last year we were in the final stages of getting our small brewhouse (we brew about 2.5 hL in a batch, which is about 2 BBL, 65 gallons, or just over a hogshead) put together and joyfully filling out paperwork to obtain the various permits and licenses needed to brew beer at a pub. Our idea was to brew beer that we like that isn’t brewed that much in Ontario. Mostly we wanted to brew Belgian-inspired things, like our saisons, but with a near fanatical focus on “milking the funk” and exploring modern mixed fermentation beers. We aimed to specialize in a yeast and fermentation driven approach, not do a little of everything. And, as luck would have it for a small brewery focusing on yeast, a small yeast lab focusing on brett and other interesting yeasts and bugs – our friends at Escarpment Labs! – opened at just about the same time offering us a chance to buy things we couldn’t even dream of when we were planning. Currently we’re about 70% on our way to being 100% Escarpment Labs cultures.
Anyway! When we finally got all of our paperwork and inspections done in January 2015, we hurried to get our carefully piloted new world (it’s dry hopped with Amarillo) saison (we used to just call it “Habits Saison,” but now as Folly it’s called “Praxis”) to our guests. For a while we only had one tank and with the brewhouse living in the middle of the kitchen, and we could only brew on days (Sunday) when the kitchen wasn’t busy cooking up tasty foods.
The part-time gig could only last so long. Running out of beer sucks! And as we saw our beer running out we quickly realized a part-time nanobrewery in a gastropub wasn’t enough. We wanted to make more beer, to work at it full-time, and to make it clear we’re a brewpub. We brainstormed new names, drew up drawings, ripped up the stage, installed a glistening stainless steel wall, ordered more tanks, and fanatically brewed up new recipes for the new brewpub. All summer we brewed and built and now, finally, it’s done.
One of the things you learn in this brewery building process is how friendly your brewery neighbors are. While in planning Brad Clifford, formerly of Get Well fame, but now brewing under his own name, helped us with some of the common nanobrewery hurdles and Jason Fisher of Indie Alehouse helped will countless other licensing questions. The fantastic George Eagleson from Stone Hammer was the first to drop in to collaborate, with the teams from Indie Alehouse and Liberty Village following shortly behind. Our friends at Bellwoods helped with our first grain order and Rainhard has helped out in that department too, allowing us to ship two palates of grain to his stately brewery. And that’s not even counting the countless homebrewers from GTA Brews and the People’s Pint who have dropped by to brew and support us. Or all of our other fantastic new (somehow newer than us even!) neighbors Burdock and Lansdowne who have shown us nothing but warmth. Jeez! That turned into a bit of a love in! But for all the puffery about “craft beer camaraderie,” it’s refreshing to experience it.
So, just over a year after announcing an onsite brewery, and transitioning to Folly Brewpub, we’re now working on keeping our four main brands on draft, growing our barrel program (six Ontario wine barrels from Lailey and Westcott Vineyards so far!), and brewing new tasty beers. And that’s what this blog space is all about! In the coming weeks we’ll get you all caught up on our barrel program, talk about some of our house mixed fermentation cultures, how we decided on our main brands, more on collaborations (especially our recent one with Lansdowne!), and just other general fun things you learn brewing for a small brewpub in downtown Toronto. There is a lot to say and only so much time! For now, please Folly us along and see where we’re going next.
Chris and Christina – Brewers at Folly Brewpub