There’s something brewing in Windsor — and it’s beer.
If all the brew pubs and craft breweries and microbreweries that are scheduled to open this year in Windsor do so, it will bring the number to about 10.
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“People are starting to realize there are a lot more than the big boys playing the game,” said Adriano Ciotoli, who runs WindsorEats.com. “People are realizing the flavour and flavour profiles that can be created.”
Ciotoli called Walkerville Brewery the spark behind the craze. The brewery, first founded in 1890 by Hiram Walker, opened in its current form in 2012.
Motor Craft Ales, the microbrewery operating out of the basement of Motor Burger, wasn’t far behind.
“I was looking for something different … beers I couldn’t get anywhere at the time,” Motor Craft Ales co-owner Gino Gesuale said. “I think we played a part in shaping the beer scene. We put a lot into this.”
Motor Craft Ales are sold exclusively at Motor Burger, located above the brewery.
Motor Burger was the first restaurant in Windsor to serve nothing but its own brew. The restaurant stopped serving domestic and imported beer when the brewery opened in 2012.
“Beer sales have tripled since we’ve done this. We’re looking to expand what we’re doing, to bring Motor Craft to everyone,” Gesuale said.
Later this year, Midian Brewing will become Windsor’s first cask ale producer.
Mauricio Lopez is Midian’s fermentation consultant. He said Windsor has a lot to offer, including cheap property.
“What we really like about Windsor is that it’s centrally located. About half the population of North America is reachable within a day’s drive,” Lopez said. “Windsor is a very dynamic place for breweries. There are very good producers in town.”
Lopez and Gesuale compare microbreweries and craft ale to the eat-local movement.
“We believe beer is local. We will not build this to exorbitant sizes,” Lopez said
“It’s about love. It’s kind of like your mom’s cooking. It’s handcrafted, it’s handmade, it’s attention to detail,” Gesuale said.
The industry is growing so quickly, the first Windsor Craft Beer Festival was last year. Another is planned for October.
Renovations of a 19th Century building are under way in Olde Sandwich Towne, where Windsor's newest craft brewery will open on Sandwich Street.
Outside Windsor, Jack’s Gastropub launched the Banded Goose Brewery in Kingsville.
“I encourage anyone to do this. The more the merrier,” Gesuale said. “You get this community around beer.”
Ontario’s craft breweries saw a 33 per cent surge in sales from 2012 to 2013.
“People are starting to realize there are a lot more than the big boys playing the game,” Ciotoli said.
Lopez said, “the big breweries dumb down their product.”