Published February 9, 2023
Great Lakes Brewery incorporated on February 12, 1987 and opened their brewery at 155 Clark Blvd in Brampton, Ontario. There were 5 co-founders who named the brewery Great Lakes because they dreamt of opening 5 breweries around the Great Lakes. Between 1987 and 1990, Great Lakes produced only two beers: Unicorn Ale and Great Lakes Lager, using malt extract. Both were packaged in green 1L PET bottles.
In 1991, Peter Bulut Sr. purchased the brewery, and immediately set his sights on expansion. The brewery was moved to the present day location in Etobicoke, and began all-grain brewing.
Great Lakes did not operate a brewery retail store until 2000. When they opened their doors to the public for the first time, they offered 6 packs of Golden Horseshoe Premium Lager and Red Leaf Lager in 341ml bottles. The store is now a community hub in Etobicoke.
Canuck Pale Ale first debuted in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics and was available at the Ontario athletes pavilion in Vancouver, BC. It also won its first Gold Medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards the same year.
Canuck Pale Ale became such a popular beer right out the gate that Great Lakes decided to make it a year-round brand in 2011. It was renamed Crazy Canuck Pale Ale, after the ski team of the 1980’s, and packaged in 473ml cans. It won its 2nd consecutive Gold Medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards.
2012 marked Great Lakes 25th anniversary and to celebrate the momentous occasion, GLB released five new beers in a variety of styles in 750ml bottles. Four of those beers were sold at the LCBO.
Due to the overwhelming success of the 25th anniversary beer, the brewery made the decision to introduce a new series of beers, Tank Ten, which would allow them to brew one-off beers in greater quantity and distribute them throughout the province.
In 2017 the brewery turned 30. To celebrate, GLB put time and effort into creating a full-length documentary to capture the history of one of Ontario’s oldest independent craft breweries. The brewery also gifted themselves a 7 Barrel pilot system in which they cranked out over 100 different beers the anniversary year.
When COVID hit the industry, GLB kept busy not only with brewing, home delivery, brand development, but with getting licensed as a Distillery! Great Lakes Spirits is born and releases Gin Soda and Vodka Soda.
One wintery day, right before our 34th anniversary, GLB announced that the brewery would be opening the Great Lakes Brewpub in the fall of 2021 in the heart of the East Bayfront neighbourhood in Toronto.
Today GLB continues to stay committed to offering Ontario consumers with the freshest beer in the market.
Have you seen the GLB documentary? We put together this Oscar worthy film back in 2017 for our 30th anniversary.