This brewery's designated homebrewing tap is shifting Toronto's craft beer scene

A new brewery in the city's west-end is tapping into a different side of Toronto's craft beer scene by "offering people something they'll probably never see again," the co-founder says.

'It's offering people something they'll probably never see again': People's Pint Brewing Company co-founder

People's Pint Brewing Company is partnering with homebrewers to showcase their one-off beers through a designated tap. (Laura Di Poce/People's Pint Brewing Company)

A new brewery in the city's west-end is tapping into a different side of Toronto's craft beer scene by "offering people something they'll probably never see again," the co-founder says. 

People's Pint Brewing Company setup a designated tap for homebrewers to feature their one-off beers on a rotating basis.

"We had an idea that homebrew, or homebrewers, are making some really interesting beer and ... we thought wouldn't it be great if we could get a bunch of these homebrewers together and showcase their great brews to the public," said Doug Appeldoorn, People's Pint co-founder and Prud'Homme beer sommelier.

People's Pint Brewing Company opened on Friday in the city's Junction area. (Laura Di Poce/People's Pint Brewing Company)

Both Appeldoorn and co-founder Peter Caira's foray into craft beer was homebrewing, which they started doing almost a decade ago.

​"We really wanted to stay true to our homebrewing roots and the way we came up," Appeldoorn told CBC Toronto, adding that connecting with the city's homebrewing community allows People's Pint to foster their talent.

The tap serves 40-litres, or two kegs worth, of beer that is brewed on-site under the supervision of People's Pint's brewers. All the ingredients are provided and adhere to the brewery's licensing standards. "When they're gone, they're gone," said Appeldoorn. 

The first beer poured from this tap during the opening of People's Pint on Friday was called Eric's Kona Blonde — an American blonde ale infused with locally produced coffee. It was the brainchild of Eric Cousineau. 

"It's a blonde ale with coffee beans that were added, but what was special about it was it was added in a way that didn't change the colour of the beer," he said, noting that instead of lasting a month like they originally intended, it sold out in two days.

"It was still a pretty pale yellow colour, which isn't something you expect from coffee." 

Eric Cousineau's Kona Blonde beer was the first featured on a tap dedicated to homebrewers. (Submitted by Eric Cousineau)

Cousineau is the president of GTA Brews, a Toronto-based homebrewing club that has partnered with the brewery. 

"Something that homebrewers tend to latch onto pretty early is they make a few batches of beer and something that excites them is, 'Oh, if someone likes my beer, then I could make a business out of this,'" he said.

"Almost every homebrewer has this pipe dream of opening a brewery someday, so this is kind of a way to get a bit of a feeling where you can have your beer on tap at a brewery."

GTA Brews president Eric Cousineau, right, and People's Pint co-founder Peter Caira, left, ahead of the brewery's opening on Friday. (People's Pint Brewing Company)

Homebrewing is a 'big playground' 

People's Pint started as a biannual event series in May 2016 before the collective grew into its bricks-and-mortar space in the city's Junction neighbourhood. 

Located in the former site of the Junction Craft Brewery, at Cawthra Avenue near Keele Street and Junction Road, the brewery offers homebrewers a place to try out their latest beers on a permanent basis rather than a one-day tap take over during an event or festival, Appeldoorn explains. 

"It is exciting to feature homebrews regularly," said Crystal Luxmore, co-founder of Beer Sisters and advanced cicerone.

"I think it doesn't change much, but it sort of makes visible what is often invisible to most people, which is that a lot of creativity and innovation that's happening in beer is happening at the homebrew level because you can play around with just five-gallons of beer and pretty much do whatever you want with it." 

The homebrew tap is designated for GTA Brew members to try out their latest beers with a wider tasting. (Submitted by Doug Appeldoorn)

By allowing homebrewers the platform to showcase their beers, she explained the People's Pint is fostering a new wave of craft brewers.

"A lot of craft breweries are started by former homebrewers who just love it and want to go pro, and so this is a way of sort of just showcasing all the creativity and passion that is already happening in the homebrew community," Luxmore told CBC Toronto. 

Homebrewers are typically very science or engineering minded, she added. "It's like their big playground. A lot of these new flavours or twists end up kind of percolating up into what's happening professionally." 

Homebrewing has influenced Ontario's craft beer market, echoed Cousineau, and People's Pint gives homebrewers the opportunity to test their recipes with a wider tasting than they'd typically get. 

"It's a way to feel excited about sharing your beer with people," he said.

In the meantime, Luxmore hopes more women will take up homebrewing. 

"I think it's another way to pique the curiosity of beer consumers because so many beer consumers I know always say, 'Wow, you can make beer at home. I want to do that. I just don't know how to get into it.'"

About the Author

Amara McLaughlin

Online reporter, CBC Toronto

Amara McLaughlin is a digital journalist at CBC Toronto. Originally from Alberta, she began her journalism career in Calgary but now calls Toronto home. She has also worked in Jerusalem, Washington, D.C. and Hamilton, Ont. amara.mclaughlin@cbc.ca