Full disclosure: Dana was involved in this project professionally. Although we weren’t asked or required to write anything about it, we are proud of Dana’s involvement, wanted to share it with you and thought it relevant to our community. Beer Academy is located at 75 Victoria Street in the core of Downtown Toronto.
Six Pints Specialty Beer Co. / Beer Academy is a bit of a conundrum for some people. It is ultimately the love child of Ontario’s Creemore Springs Brewery combined with Vancouver’s Granville Island Brewery. Both entities are owned by Molson Coors which challenges the definition of craft beer for some. The crux of the dilemma, to many, is the very definition of craft beer – is it about how it’s made, who makes it, or a combination of the two? Some find this argument difficult to reconcile while others (on all sides of the argument) are very clear on what it is, or isn’t. While the initial reception has been very warm, a few have felt that this project’s intention is to trick people into thinking this is something it’s not.
I’m not an authority on the definition of what makes a craft beer or brewery. I have been fortunate to have stepped into many craft breweries here and abroad and can use that as my guide when answering the question for myself. But arguing over the label and whether this is a ‘real’ craft brewery or not isn’t a lot of interest to me. I’m more compelled to try the beer and, as I generally do, look for the upside in the opportunity that is this place. And what is Six Pints Specialty Beer Co. / Beer Academy? It’s a combination of things:
- A small-batch craft brewery. We sampled many beer last night including 5 beers created on-site (the stand-outs for me included an amazing porter and a great IPA).
- A retail boutique that you can buy Creemore, Granville and the beer made on-site (in growlers and quarts) to take home.
- Tasting rooms to try beer.
- An event space centered around beer and food (with an amazing basement kitchen)
- An importer of craft beer from around the world that isn’t currently available in Ontario.
- An inviting place for people to learn about beer including frequent access to the on-site brewmaster.
It’s that last bullet point that excites me the most about this place. It’s a beautiful building that invites people in to try beer that is different from the mainstream. I watched many people learn about the brewing process last night, get introduced to styles of beer that were new to them and learn that beer can be as diverse as wine at the dinner table. It’s a way to invite people to try something off their beaten bath with great ease and enter the world of beer that is full of so much more flavor than one typically gets over the retail counters in this province. It’s a chance to preach the virtues of small-batch beer and exciting flavors to people who might not otherwise give it a try.
In essence, Six Pints/ Beer Academy may serve as an amazing ‘gateway drug’ to transition people away from large megabeer into smaller batch beer. I’m a believer that “All ships rise with the tide” (a saying taught to me by a dear friend that seems to appear in the oddest of places for me). I believe that the more people are encouraged to diverge from the mainstream and into alternative flavors that it is likely that the companies following the traditional mold of a craft brewer will, in turn benefit.
We were invited for an opening week celebration last night that included sampling and made use of every corner of the building where they conducted cheese pairings, cooking demonstrations and offered food made with (or made to pair with) their different beer. It was a whole lot of fun; here’s a peak inside: