Two companies looking to tap into Hamilton's burgeoning “cultural renaissance” are bringing beer production back to the former Lakeport brewery on Burlington Street.
Nickel Brook Brewing Co., of Burlington, and Collective Arts Brewing have unveiled their Arts & Science Brewing Co. partnership. The collaboration will see both craft brewers produce out of the 67-year-old facility, located at 201 Burlington St. E, by the fall.
Labatt, which bought Lakeport in 2007, closed the brewery in 2010, laying off 143 workers and stripping the building of its brewing equipment.
"It's no longer the Lakeport facility," said John Romano, co-founder of Nickel Brook Brewing Co., at a Wednesday news conference inside the building.
"It's the Arts & Science facility beginning now until forever," he said, to some applause.
Nickel Brook and Collective Arts, he said, purchased beer-making equipment from a former Sleeman brewery in Nova Scotia in the winter and have begun to ship it to the Hamilton factory.
The companies will be leasing the building from the Hamilton Port Authority. Romano wouldn't give dollar values, but he said the port authority is leasing the site at a "reduced rate" for a year and a half.
He said he hopes the site will be up and running by the end of the year. Collective Arts, Romano said, will be brewing two beers to start, while Nickel Brook will make six beers along with "some seasonal brews."
Space for art, music
To start, the facility will create 20 jobs related to beer production, Linda Yahya, a spokeswoman for Arts & Science, told CBC Hamilton.
However, she said more employment opportunities will stem from the 10,000-square-foot retail and hospitality space that the companies have planned for the site, which they envision as a venue for live music and art exhibitions.
“Arts & Science Brewing is proud to bring a brewery that not only gives great beer back to the city, but also offers a new artistic hub,” said Matt Johnston, co-founder of Collective Arts Brewing, in a Tuesday news release.
“We recognize the current cultural renaissance happening in the city — much of it concentrated in the James Street North area — and we are confident Hamiltonians will embrace our commitment to excellence and creativity in our beer-making and in our support of the arts.”