Who wants a cold one?
Durham is hopping into the craft brew beer scene, and is making quite a splash. Durham’s craft beer scene is engaging breweries and beer lovers seeking more than mass-produced domestic beers.
The Whitby campus is catching onto the trend, and is in the beginning stages of planning for its own microbrewery, dubbed the “BrewLab.”
The BrewLab at the Whitby campus received funding this summer from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), through its Applied Research Tools and Instruments (ARTI) grants.
Three ARTI grants totaling $443,168 will be used to purchase equipment for a microbrewery. Researchers will work with members of the brewing community to help enhance their practices, such as product quality, longer shelf life, and different brewing methods.
Debbie McKee Demcyzk, director of the office of research services and innovation, believes the BrewLab is a great connection between Durham College and the community it services. She believes by working with companies in the region, Durham College has proven itself as a contributor of the community.
“This seems to be a growing field, and not only in the number of brewers who are popping up, but also the brewers that are in existence are starting to grow,” she says. “They’re starting to see their employment numbers increase.”
Although the project is only in early stages, it is an innovative and unique step taken by the college. Durham College will now be the second college in Ontario to have a brewery, with Niagara College already offering full-time brewing program, the only of it’s kind in Ontario.
It is too early to determine any plans for a brewing program at the Whitby campus, but it may come as a natural step in the future, says McKee Demcyzk. For now, the college is using its applied research expertise to develop new and better ways to brew.
“Right now what we’re looking at is the applied research agenda around brewing,” she explains. “It could involve a taste of brewing, the hops aspect, things like shelf life of beer, improving quality, and chemical analysis.”
The BrewLab may be a pivotal opportunity for Durham College. With more than 300 independent breweries across the country, it is proving to be an industry to invest in.
According to the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) association, which represents 30 breweries in Ontario, craft brewing is a major economic contributor. Craft brewing brought in $210 million revenue in the 2012 year, and about 900 Ontarians are directly employed at breweries under OCB.
Plans for a brewery at Durham College’s Whitby campus and this summer’s first Durham beer festival are indictors of the industry’s success.
Darryl Kostner, creator of Durham Craft Beer Festival, says spearheading Durham Region’s first craft beer festival this July came with doubts.
“People laughed at me, I said ‘let’s just do it’, and we did it. It was a wild success.”
The festival, launched this summer, saw mirrored success in the fall with Ciders and Seasonals, featuring 13 different vendors from Oshawa, Whitby, Port Perry, Bowmanville, and parts of the GTA.
The fall festival took over downtown Oshawa’s Ontario Street, a tight space for the large turnout.
Kostner says plans for the festival next summer are already underway, with beer fanatics eager to taste how the breweries have developed and changed.
Meanwhile, a Whitby brewery has been stirring up success since it opened just over a year ago. 5 Paddles Brewing Co. has increased production threefold as its specialty menu has attracted the home and craft brew fanatics.
With more than 90 different beers, including cherry bourbon, raspberry beet, vanilla stout, and jalapeno beet, 5 Paddles has made an impact on the beer scene once known only to the die-hard craft beer fans.
Edward Woods, a master brewer at 5 Paddles Brewing Co., left his job as a mechanic to pursue a life he always wanted to live – a life of beer.
“We’ve been open for fifteen months and we can’t keep up. We keep buying new equipment, growing, growing, and expanding, and yet we’re falling further and farther behind with production,” Woods says with a mixture of stress and pride.
“We’ve tripled our production and we have no more beer in the fridge than we did when we opened.”
The company is moving its operations to a 5,000 square foot facility, for the 900 square feet they have now is far too small to meet demand.
5 Paddles is just one success, and Durham College’s Whitby campus is hoping to help this community partner in future endeavors.