When Ed Madronich said beer was the next logical step for him, he wasn't recounting the previous night's adventures. As the owner of Flat Rock Cellars winery in Jordan, Madronich was referring to beer on a bit larger scale: a craft brewery he's planning for downtown Dundas.
"From a business perspective, there are synergies with both [businesses]," he said.
The plan is still in its infancy. Madronich has located a building at 64 and 65 Hatt St. — the former location of Valley City Manufacturing — but is waiting to see if the city will approve a rezoning bid that would allow him to transform the space into a brewery where visitors could tour the facilities as well as sample and purchase the beer.
He's been toying with the idea for years and now that he's found the right location, he's excited at the prospect of bringing his dream to fruition.
"When it comes to beer I think place is really important, and Dundas would be a great community," he said.
A popular brew
Craft or microbreweries produce a limited amount of beer and usually cater to a smaller geographical area. Over the past few years, they've quickly gained popularity across the province.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, 16 new microbreweries have opened in Ontario since 2005. Craft beer is the fastest growing market for the LCBO, racking up 45 per cent sales growth in 2011.
Though he and his partner also scouted locations in Hamilton, Madronich said the shops, restaurants and pubs in Dundas draw a tourist crowd that would be attracted to a destination brewery with tours and samples.
But they're not looking to open a bar or restaurant, he stressed. Rather than competing with other businesses, he hopes to work alongside them so that the brewery adds value to the whole community.
So far, his plan has been met with enthusiasm.
"I was surprised by how excited the community is. People have been writing me saying that they think it would be great for Dundas," he said.
"There's always apprehension with beverage alcohol, but everyone has been really supportive. It's very exciting for us."
Phyllis Kraemer, chair of the Downtown Dundas Business Improvement Area, said she has only heard support from the business community.
"From the people I've spoken to — and that's lots — they are really excited," she said, adding many were pleased the historic building would stay intact under Madronich's plan.
"I think it would be a real benefit to the fabric of the community."
If the city approves his application for rezoning, the next step will be renovating. If all things move along at an ideal pace, local Dundas residents could be sipping on a homegrown brew as early as this fall, Madronich says.
Regardless, Madronich says he is set on opening the brewery and Dundas is his locale of choice.
"It would be disappointing if the application wasn't approved, but if we have to we'll find a new location," he said.
"I would hope everything goes smoothly, and fingers crossed, we'll be open by the end of this year."