February 25th marked the sort-of grand opening of Left Field Brewery on Toronto’s East Side. It was the ‘sort-of’ opening for two reasons:
- They’ve been making excellent beer for about a year. Like many Ontario Craft Breweries they’ve been brewing elsewhere until they can get a home of their own (they’ve been brewing at two of my favorite Ontario brewers: Grand River and Barley Days). There must be long days of driving as the two breweries are located considerably outside of the city – in opposite directions!
- Their opening party was celebrating their new space; the actual brewery will take about a year to get set up and running.
The story behind Left Field is dreamy. It was founded by husband-and-wife team (Mark and Mandie Murphy). Mark was a Chartered Accountant who decided to shake things up and go to school to learn to make beer (yes, we have beer school in Ontario!). Mandie is a beer geek, marketer and baseball fan. I don’t know Mark or Mandie though I have a giant pile of respect for them in chasing their dream and it was easy to feel the shared excitement at the opening.
The beer is also right up-my-alley. They aren’t afraid of bold flavor and, as a bitter beer lover, they have a lot of options that tickle my fancy. They currently have an Oatmeal Brown Ale (Eephus, named after a very rare baseball pitch), a pale ale (named “Maris *”), an IPA (Resin Bag) and a double-IPA (6-4-3). The least bitter is the Oatmeal Brown; the 6-4-3 is the stiffest pitch they’ve got; and I love it!
Beyond a great story and great beer, I love the story and branding that Left Field is wrapping around their product. From some of the less-than-obvious names on their beer, the design of their website, swag and banners in the brewery, it’s clear that they are obsessed about the intersection of baseball and beer. They’ve even been working with the amazing Garrison Creek Bat Co. to make custom tap handles (and displayed their decorated bats at their opening).
I wish them luck – and will be excited to follow (and drink my share) of their journey along the way!