Last night Ontario beer blogger, Ben Johnson, ran a post where he speculated that the reason Mill Street’s production brewery in Scarborough was up for sale was because they were moving production to Labatt, who acquired the brewery in October.
I’d heard about the brewery’s ongoing expansion and knew there was something else going on
Johnson’s guess had no basis in fact, so I talked to brewmaster Joel Manning this afternoon for the details on what’s really going down:
“Nope,” says brewmaster Joel Manning. “The simple answer we’re just moving our brewery, expanding it and building a bigger one because we can’t keep up.”
All brewing equipment except for the brewhouse, which they’ve outgrown, will move to a 175,000 square-foot facility in an industrial park at Victoria and Eglinton in North York, where Mill Street’s head offices are already located. “Right now my office is here, but the brewery is in Scarborough, and our entire team is split into two different locations — this will bring everyone together, it’ll be great for staff culture.” says Manning. It’s a plan that’s been in the works for two years.
The expansion will increase the brewery’s current volume, of around 100,000 litres of beer annually, by 35 percent.
The newly-installed, state-of-the-art $10-million, custom-built Steinecker brewhouse is currently being piped and wired into the facility and brewing operations will launch at the new site in April or May of this year. The bigger brewhouse will allow Mill Street to brew bigger batches of its best-selling flagship brew, Mill Street Organic and free up space for more one-off’s.
Any breweries wanting to buy the old brewhouse are out of luck—for now. “We’re hanging onto our old brewhouse for now because we may use it for a future expansion,” says Manning.
By mid-year, Brickworks Ciderhouse, recently acquired by the brewery, will have also moved its production over to the site. “We’re really excited to build our cidery within the new brewery,” says Chris Noll, co-founder of the cidery. Our cidermaker Adam Gerritts is planning a lot more experiments and one-off batches at the new site.
There are no plans to open the production brewery for visitors — the Distillery brewpub will continue to operate and remain the main hub for consumers and beer lovers. The most exciting part for Manning? “We’ve added a hopback, a whole-leaf percolator, so that we can work with some leaf hops on some of our super hoppy beers and also work with Ontario or Canadian grown-hops which don’t come in pellet form,” says Manning.