First Look: Indie Alehouse, a new microbrewery, restaurant and beer store in the Junction
Fifteen years ago, the sale of alcohol was prohibited in the Junction. As a sign of how much the west Toronto neighbourhood has changed since then, it now has two local, independent breweries: Junction Craft Brewing and Indie Alehouse, the latter of which opened its doors to the public for the first time last weekend.
As one of the first complete brewing operations in the area, Indie Alehouse’s approval process was long and drawn-out (and it didn’t help that the space, which also houses a 140-capacity restaurant, was vacant for years).
Founder Jason Fisher wishes he could do more of the brewing himself, given his long history of home brewing, but he’s happy to leave it in the capable hands of his head brewer, Jeff Broeders, who is a recent graduate of Niagara College’s brewing program.
Fisher says they want to brew bold-flavoured, super-hoppy beers that are “hard to find in the province.” The selection will favour one-offs and will be heavily rotated. It currently includes the 11 per cent Cockpuncher Imperial IPA ($5.50 for 10 oz), the seasonal Pumpkin Abbey (featuring Belgian yeast, $5.50 for 10 oz) and a Belgian raspberry sour called the Spadina Monkey ($5.50 for 9 oz).
The beer menu lists the alcohol percentage and serving size for each beer. Portions vary between nine and 20 ounces, depending on the appropriate glassware for the style, with the boozier and funkier ones coming in the smallest glasses. A sampler that combines five beers (4 oz each) goes for $10.
Much of what is brewed will be sold through Indie Alehouse’s own retail store. To start, it will offer 1.9L growlers that range in price from $18 to $22, but Fisher hopes to add smaller bottles in the near future.
Guest taps and collaborations will be an important part of the selection at Indie Alehouse. There are currently two collaborations on the menu, and the product of a lambic-style project with brewers from Sawdust City, Great Lakes and Amsterdam Brewery has started its multi-year, barrel-aging process.
With an in-house pizza oven and a smoker, chef Patrick Fraser (Chiado) is well-equipped to create a menu of made-from-scratch food to match the craft beer. There are cornerstone pub snacks like chili cheese fries ($9) and a smoked pulled pork sandwich ($13), but also more adventurous options like mushroom mac ‘n’ cheese ($10) and a Three Little Pigs pizza ($15) that includes smoked pork, wild boar sausage and Berkshire pork belly.
Instead of viewing his brewery’s location as a response to the area’s long-lasting dry status, Fisher, who has lived less than a kilometer away for the past 12 years, would rather describe it as matching the neighbourhood’s current ethos.
“The Junction community doesn’t have that cookie-cutter, corporate feel,” he says, “so it’s a really good fit.”
Indie Alehouse’s restaurant will open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and brunch will be served on Sundays (and possibly Saturdays as well). When the retail store opens tomorrow, its hours (set by the AGCO) will match those of The Beer Store.
Indie Alehouse, 2876 Dundas Street West