House Brews

Creating, Customizing, and Providing House Beers to Canadian Drinking Outlets
By: Sam Corbeil

The selection at Original’s Ale House on Bayview Avenue in Toronto has the usual suspects tap-wise on the bar—Molson Canadian, Heineken, Guinness—while also showcasing other independent beer brands, such as Beau’s Lug-Tread. But one stands out as special to the pub itself. It’s consumed by regulars and even showcased on a weekly beer special at a very competitive price.

“That’s our own beer, Original’s Signature,” said Original’s proprietor Nada Morra. “We offer it as a stand alone and on a weekly beer-and-wings special.”

With the ever-growing selection of beer on the market, many Canadian pubs have taken to brewing or commissioning the invention of their own beer that their customers can’t get elsewhere. Pub chains such as The Firkin offer Butler’s Ale at all of their locations as a signature offering, often paired with particular food selections.

Signature beer can be a useful branding technique for the establishment, giving them a staple, recognizable beverage that clients return time-and-again for. However, the process of choosing and implementing a unique house beer can be laborious.

“It wasn’t easy: we went over a few different tastes and to see what our customers enjoyed best,” said Morra. “We had to really think from the perspective of what our clients might like in their decision-making and what we wanted to end up with in the end. It took a couple of months.”

When asked who her brewer was, Morra kept jokingly elusive.

“That’s a secret,” she said with a laugh. “But it is someone local.”

Testing out what today’s drinkers like and creating recipes to suit their tastes or what they might enjoy in a new beer concoction is part of signature beer brewing. Large chain pubs, independent breweries, and even home brewers can benefit from providing pubs or brewing collective entities particular beers that have the potential to become mainstays at bars or other drinking forums.

“I’ve got a new cask in the works right now. But this time it’s getting an unveiling at the People’s Pint opening at the end of March,” said beer enthusiast and home brewer Chris Glasser. “It’s an American brown with Centennial and Michigan Copper hops.”

Originally from Hanover, Ontario, Glasser has been home brewing for several years. Experimenting with various beer recipes in his spare time from his Toronto home base, he’s had a chance to test out various brewing formulae while paying close attention to what drinkers like. Now he’s finding outlets for his brewing results in various beer consumption outlets to showcase his wares, and giving the public new items to the existing drink line-up that may already be in place.

“These days we see a lot of people acclimatizing to sours and getting more into cask beer. But with this you see one thing in common: people want to try one-offs—those showcased beers types they can test out on their own for a particular celebration or activity. From there, they can become mainstays at certain breweries or pubs based on demand.”

Brewing signature beers also facilitates both collaboration and the provision of more than one beer at any one bar set-up.

“I do some of the home brews with a couple of other brewers, Deaglan Walcarn and Angela Billson,” said Glasser. “When events like the People’s Pint opening comes up, they can have three to four rotating taps at once. Therefore you can brew more than one cask to test out all at once or back-to-back to see which ones went over the best with the drinkers.”

The People’s Pint is a brewing collective entity located in the Junction area of Toronto. It’s grand opening will be over the 23-25 March 2018 weekend.