Handmade, just like our beer, our nanobrewery is where we celebrate our craft and share our independent spirit. This is the story of how we got to where we are now.
When Tom Met Doug
They were destined to meet over a keg. Tom Paterson had recently restored The Paddock, a former juke joint, to its former glory. He wanted the Toronto landmark to serve local craft beers. Doug Pengelly was running a one-man local brewery that was making a name for itself. As Tom and Doug talked beer on delivery days, the idea for Junction Craft began fermenting.
Tom and Doug with the Hopback in 2011
BIRTH OF A BREWERY
Tom and Doug launched Junction Craft Brewing in 2011 as a contract brewery. The brewery’s first beer was Conductor’s Craft Ale, produced and kegged by Wellington Brewery. Within a year, Conductor’s was being seen around town, served on tap at 50 spots in Toronto’s west end.
Licensees were getting to know the brand and beer drinkers were getting used to saying, “I’ll have a Conductor’s.” With a footprint established, it was time for the next step.
Doug’s pretty handy with a welding torch
SMALL BUT MIGHTY
In September 2012, we built our first brewery on Cawthra Avenue in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood, right across from the rail tracks.
Like the little engine that could, our first operation was a small, efficient sparkplug of a brewery. On the outside, we were considered a commercial brewhouse. In our hearts and minds, this was a phase for piloting, experimenting and shaping our identity. Our 3 hL brewhouse gave us the space to develop the recipes that have given us our reputation for variety. In the first full year of nanobrewery operation, we made 230 brews with over 90 unique recipes.
We saw how licensees were responding to their customers’ growing taste for diversity in craft beer. More pubs and restaurants were establishing rotating draught lines to keep their offerings fresh and unique. We met that demand, because Junction’s dedication to diversity allows us to do things other breweries simply can’t. In 2014, we made 441 brews. In 2016, we added more tank capacity and brewed 599 small batches. At the same time, we continued the contract brewing of Conductor’s Craft Ale as sales escalated.
IN THE LCBO AISLES
As is our way, Junction Craft began modestly and grew steadily within the LCBO network. We launched 473 mL cans of Conductor’s Craft Ale in June 2013. In July of 2014, we launched our second core brand, Brakeman’s Session Ale, followed by Engineer’s IPA in March 2017, both in 473 mL cans in the LCBO. Trainspotter Craft Lager launched in May 2017 in 355 mL cans. Our expanding range of brews are now available in over 150 stories throughout Ontario.
Picking Up Steam
We currently sell our beer to over 240 licensees in the GTA and beyond, including our core brands, small batch and cask beers such as Stationmaster’s Stout, Tracklayer’s Kolsch, West Toronto Weizen, and Local Option Lager. Such demand was straining the capacity of our Cawrtha Avenue brewery. Our ambitions for Junction Craft Brewing had also outgrown our well-used and much-loved original location. In 2016, we found our new home, a bit of a fixer upper.
The 150 Symes Road location was originally a City of Toronto Incinerator (or “Destructor”), built in 1934 under the watchful eye of RC Harris, Toronto’s longest serving Commissioner of Public Works. Harris believed that civic architecture should be a source of community pride, and the classic Art Deco building certainly reflects this. Now, the newly restored landmark will proudly produce distinct local beers. The new location also has a retail store, special events venue and a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy Junction products. Learn more.
TRUE TO OUR ROOTS
The custom-built 25 hL brewhouse, along with new canning and bottling machinery will allow Junction Craft to brew, package and distribute all products from a single facility for the first time. In a way, Junction Craft Brewing’s journey has been something of a round trip. We got our start producing a single, contract-brewed product. Our new, larger facility will allow us to give other plucky upstarts the same chance, because we’ll have the capacity to contract-brew for others.
Wherever we go in the future, it will never change where we’re from. You can find Junction Craft Brewing beers across Ontario, but our heart and soul will always be in the Junction – the neighbourhood that gave our brewery its start, its inspiration and its character. Visit us in The Junction, ask for us on tap and look for us in the LCBO. All aboard!