After a bit of a lull in new openings, it seems as though Ossington is in the middle of yet another restaurant and bar boom, with the launch of The Saint, Hawker Bar and now Bellwoods Brewery, the first new brewpub in Toronto after the untimely death of Duggan’s. Despite having opened just last Wednesday, the space was packed before 6 p.m. on Saturday night—in other words, the microbrewery is already a hit. Of course, smack dab as it is in the middle of hipster party central, we didn’t expect anything less.
Behind Bellwoods Brewery are Luke Pestl and Mike Clark, former brewers at Amsterdam Brewery. Much like at Woodlot and Gusto 101, the pair took over an old auto garage, finding the huge ceilings perfect for their 20-plus-foot high fermenting tanks and double-decker dining area (upstairs, a long, narrow mezzanine offers tables and bar seating overlooking the action below). Inside, the minimalist space—white walls and rustic wooden tables and shelves—draws attention to the main attraction: the shiny tanks in the back. The front features an auto shop garage door that will open to the brewery’s front patio during the summer (since it’s fully on private property, licensing is somewhat simpler).
The beer, mostly brewed in-house, comes in 12- and 16-ounce servings, including a Berliner Weisse ($7, 16 oz.), Witchshark Double IPA ($8.50, 12 oz.) and Farmhouse Saison ($7.50, 16 oz.). A few guest draughts are also available, including Great Lakes Brewery’s Harry Porter ($7.25, 16 oz.) and the Dieu du Ciel’s Corne du Diable ($8.25, 16 oz.). To pair with the beer, chef Guy Rawlings (Lucien, Brockton General and a childhood friend of Pestl) has launched the menu with some inexpensive bar snacks, skewers and small dishes, all intended for sharing. Bread ($2 for four pieces) made at Woodlot using the spent grain from the brewery is paired with salumi from the Black Hoof ($9), cheese ($10–$15) and liverwurst spread ($9). On the skewers, unusual options like jellyfish ($2), lamb tongue ($4) and duck heart ($4) stand out. Small dishes include a plate of crispy beef and pork with pea shoots, rehydrated peanuts and mustard sauce ($9).
Next up: Pestl and Clark plan to open a brewery storefront next door (they lease the property to the north), where customers will be able to buy beer from Bellwoods Brewery to take home.
Bellwoods Brewery, 124 Ossington Ave., 416-535-4586, bellwoodsbrewery.com