Published February 3, 2021
The coming soon signs have gone up and images have started circulating around the internet. It’s been a long time coming, and after keeping it close to our chests for over two years, today we’re ready to officially announce that Great Lakes Brewery is heading to Toronto’s East Bayfront neighbourhood with a second location.
The GLB Brewpub, as it will commence to be known, will open on Lower Jarvis and Queen’s Quay in the Fall of 2021!
It’s very exciting for us here at GLB to share the news with you, so grab a beer and see what Peter Bulut (Owner & President) and Mike Lackey (Brewing Operations Manager) have to say about this significant moment in GLB’s history.
GLB: The word is out – GLB Brewpub is on the way. Where exactly will it be located?
PB: Exciting times! Yes, the ‘coming soon’ signage has been posted and our supporters have already started asking about it. The GLB Brewpub will be coming to the East Bayfront neighbourhood here in Toronto, occupying units 5-8 at 11 Lower Jarvis Street (Lower Jarvis/Queen’s Quay) in the Daniels Waterfront ‘City of the Arts’ building. We’ll be joining other amazing businesses and schools like George Brown, OCAD University, The ReMix Project, Artscape, Universite de l’Ontario Francais, and more.
GLB: Great location. What else can you tell us about the area?
PB: We feel we lucked out on the location. It’s a great spot (we feel) to open a brewpub. As mentioned above, East Bayfront is an emerging Toronto neighbourhood. There are lots of mix-use buildings going up in the area and it needs a good community hangout, so we’re happy to bring the GLB hospitality to Toronto east. The brewpub is situated close to Sugar Beach, the walking and biking lakeside trail(s), George Brown College (Waterfront campuses’), and is a quick jaunt from the downtown core. A great location to ‘live-work-play-learn-create’.
GLB: Tell us about the space.
PB: As mentioned, we’ll occupy units 5-8, on the east side of Lower Jarvis. The brewpub will take up approximately 6000 square feet, feature a 7 Barrel brewhouse with multiple 15-barrel fermenters and boast 20 taps (plan as of today). There will be two patios, 120 seats, plenty of natural light, full kitchen and an extensive retail store. We’ll also be using the space to bring our characters to life with lots of visual artwork on display. The space will be light and bright and will incorporate the vibe of the surrounding area. With a TTC stop at the front doorstep, the brewpub will be easily accessible by foot, bicycle, and public transit, and will become a common space for the many students who currently study in East Bayfront.
GLB: What kind of place are you hoping to build?
PB: Like the Etobicoke location, the brewpub will capture the essence of our brewery, our brand, our people. It will be a welcoming and inclusive place that showcases the creativity of our brewers, and our Chef, and a place where consistency and quality will thrive. It will be fun and friendly – a community hub where locals and visitors can come together over great beer and stellar food.
GLB: Why now? What was the driving force to open a brewpub right now?
PB: Ha. Yeah, well, I signed the lease in the spring of 2018, while the building was going up. Then COVID hit, stalling the entire project (not just the brewpub, but the whole development). Building a brewpub, or opening a second location, has been something I’ve been contemplating for 20 years. In 2018, after looking at roughly 30 locations in Toronto and surrounding areas, I felt this location was perfect for what I envisioned a GLB Brewpub being, so I pulled the trigger. The size of the location, the emerging neighbourhood, being in the east – it all came together. Yes, moving forward with plans to open a brewpub, during a global pandemic, is worrisome, but the love we’ve been receiving from East Toronto (East York, downtown, Corktown, etc.), myself and the team are confident we can pull this off. The support of the GLB community makes it easier to move forward.
GLB: Let’s talk about brewing for a second, Lackey. What do you envision for the brewpub in terms of brewing?
ML: First off, this is an exciting opportunity for our brewing team. Running a tap lineup presents a set of challenges for any brewer. Brewpubs always attract a wide range of palates and it’s the job of the brewer to provide a wide spectrum of well-made beer. One of the greatest appeals of the local brewpub is that it’s an easy choice for meeting up with a group – the beer is local, the food is usually pretty damn good and the atmosphere is almost always great. But of course, not everyone has the same taste. So, if you have a table of 8 hunkering down for an afternoon of imbibing, you may have a couple lager drinkers, a couple IPA drinkers, someone who likes sour beer and someone who enjoys Belgian style offerings (or a hundred other beer styles that may be fancied by some). Who knows *gasp* the other two may not even drink beer. Luckily our brewing team loves a challenge, and we are ready to satisfy all comers!
GLB: Tell us about the plan to incorporate the GLB brewers into the brewing schedule?
ML: The brewers are chomping at the bit to add this new location. There will be a lot of moving parts with people, ingredients, and finished product moving around the GTA, but that’s what we are here for. Bottom line is everyone on our brewing team will be able to brew on different systems suited to any different or tried and true beers they want. We aim to keep the beer and ideas fresh, and that should be reflected in our tap list.
GLB: You mentioned a large retail store?
PB: You betcha. It will be a big footprint with 20 feet of fridge space. The retail store will showcase the creativity of the beers we’ll be producing at the location, offering the community our core brands, seasonals, one-offs and more. The retail environment will reflect what we’ve created in Etobicoke – open, inclusive, knowledgeable staff who provide friendly and welcoming greetings – a memorable experience with each visit. We’ll also have lots of brewpub specific merchandise that will echo the vibe of the community around us.
GLB: What’s the plan with food for the location?
PB: There will be food! We will have a well-thought-out menu, putting the same focus on the food as we do on our beer. Our goal is to ensure that each dish complements the wide variety of beers we we’ll be producing on-site. For example, we’ll introduce frühschoppen, the German tradition of gathering for brunch with friends, which will coincide with our Frühschoppen German Pilsner. It will be a fun journey building out the concept. Lots of healthy options will be on the menu for sure.
GLB: You mentioned patios! Torontonians love a good patio. What can customers expect?
PB: Yes, there will be TWO patios. Lovely, well-curated patios tucked away from the hustle and bustle of a busy downtown. Due to the location of the brewpub (just north of Lake Ontario), the patios will offer a nice reprieve from the busy downtown core and will be a place people will want to kick-back with a beer or two.
The larger patio will seat approximately 50 customers and will be located inside a courtyard known as ‘The Yard’. There will be lots of greenery scattered amongst the open flow, roomy layout. ‘The Yard’ takes its inspiration from London’s trendy Brick Lane neighbourhood, offering other retail, cafes and shops. It’s an inviting area with attractive sculptures and art displays.
The second, smaller patio will be on Lower Jarvis and will be more of a standing patio.
GLB: The brewpub features a new look for Great Lakes. Can you share any insights?
PB: The idea was to create a connection with the newly developing community by using our existing brand elements (the main beer ingredients) and update them in a way that reflects the ideology and practices as the East Bayfront development. The important challenge was to maintain our existing visual identity. Our signature typeface, main elements, and composition practices remain unchanged. We are, after all, the same people. Unsurprisingly, the design path was already forged by what is probably the most fundamental of our core values: Community.
GLB: Lackey, you’ve traveled a lot, visiting breweries and brewpubs across North America. How will this brewpub differ from others?
ML: Yeah, travelling around North America, and Germany, and visiting both over the past 15 years, has kinda been a passion of mine. I’d like to think our spot will take some of the best aspects from places I’ve been fortunate enough to find myself in.
GLB: Care to name a few of those places?
ML: Bell’s Brewing (Kalamazoo Mi). The first Mecca of U.S. brewing I stopped at. The tap list features an amazingly wide range of very well-made styles. Bell’s has upgraded the size of their brew systems over the years but always kept brewing on the old system that they have outgrown. It allows them to have a dizzying array of taps and this is something we’ve tried to emulate.
Russian River (Santa Rosa Ca). If in the Bay Area make sure to take the hour trip up to RR. Although not the first to make IPAs, for me this is Ground Zero for modern West Coast IPA. With all I’ve said about making a wide range of styles, IPA is our favourite and we will continue to try and make this style well. Russian River is our biggest inspiration.
Avery Brewing (Boulder Co). One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the menu. Of course, along with the passion for making great beer, the best breweries put the same passion and love into their food. Avery has the most unique, thought-out and delicious menu of any brewpub I’ve ever seen.
Blue Jacket Brewing (Washington DC). This place is in a new building near the baseball stadium in Washington. We stopped for a couple beers here before going to a baseball game during the Craft Brewers Conference a couple years back. The beer, food, and most importantly, the atmosphere, was so great we ended up skipping the game. It amazed me how they were able to transform a hallowed out modern space into an inviting joint to spend an afternoon. Definitely something we will be shooting for at Lower Jarvis.
GLB: Peter, when do you anticipate the brewpub opening to the public
PB: We just got the keys on January 11th, so it’s go time! There is a lot to do inside the shell of the building, a lot. We’ve been at this for a long time (brewing business), so we don’t like throwing out timelines. Our goal is to be open by the fall. But, in the meantime, we’re still rocking it here in Etobicoke. We just expanded our home delivery zones to include more of Toronto (North Etobicoke and North York) and our retail store remains open seven days a week with lots of #FreshGLB.
GLB: Peter, any last words?
PB: As an independent business firmly rooted here in Toronto, and a born and bred Torontonian myself, we couldn’t have got to this point without the support of so many beer drinkers, and we’re excited to take this leap with you.
We’ll continue to share updates as we embark on this journey, together.
BEER AND BULLSHIT PODCAST
Ben Johnson (Beer and Bullshit) chats with Peter Bulut about our 30+ plus years in Ontario brewing, why we prefer staying local, commitment to #FreshGLB, searching for the right spot to open a second location and they discuss, in detail, the new brewpub.