Reflecting back over the last year, everyone involved in our microbrewery may have underestimated the amount of work it would take to open a 400-seat brewery and locavore restaurant on the edge of King West. Solving the structural math problems alone of how to suspend a 110-thousand-pound microbrewery on top of a parking garage without crushing a litany of imported SUV’s below has taken months. It’s easy to have nightmares of someone forgetting to carry a one, omitting a decimal place or forgetting a bead on their abacus. Ultimately, we have nothing to complain about. Jumping out of bed at 5 am is easy when you are chasing an elusive vision that may border on obsession. Although I’ve faced a constant onslaught of questions as to why any sane person would pause a career in real estate to face the abysmal statistics that are the unbranded restaurant industry. My answer is simple – opening this brewery and restaurant has always been our dream. The fact that I get to do it with two of my best friends at my side while working with so many creative and dedicated people has been the experience of a lifetime.
It has been over a year since our brewery was founded amongst the communal arguing that was our home brewing adventures. Perhaps propelled by too many high ABV beers, we frequently debated what would win the fridge war against industrially produced light beers on our upcoming cottage trips. We were armed with funny looking stubby bottles that were reasonably clean and gracefully presented with a high level of unfiltered sediment in the bottom. We may have been out gunned by generations of marketing entrenchment but we were scrappy and armed with 2 row barley and several jokes about how preservatives will inevitably steal one’s soul faster than a Kombat finishing move. Our beer might have been met with more initial skepticism than a screen door for a submarine but our 3 dozen amber lagers disappeared first. Perhaps this was our perceived first light at the end of a seemingly infinite tunnel where the inspiration and ingredients of craft beer dispelled the popular notion of what beer should be. Let us hope this light isn’t an oncoming train or Gorilla with a flashlight.
We learned on these trips, and future conversations pertaining to beer, that education is a way to champion craft beer and hopefully increase craft drinkers. Craft beer snobbery on the other hand, achieves the inverse. That’s why it enrages saddens me whenever I witness craft beer snobbery. I have never understood being condescending to someone who could be won over with a sharing of passion. Bullying doesn’t change minds, knowledge does. While elitist craft snobbery may fulfill the ego of the speaker, it does nothing to win the hearts and minds of beer drinkers. I am left with the question, does anyone ever really like a bully?
We are happily and blissfully gigantic beer geeks and Northern Maverick will be an extension of that. Since nerds love books and school, we are building a library as quickly as we can for our second floor 70 seat school of malt and hops. We will welcome drinkers who may have never had craft beer before, discuss ingredient differences, and provide as many gateway beers as we can. Too often we have short memories in craft beer. We forget that most drinkers don’t wake up one day, dispel a lifetime of mass marketed beer and reach for double IPA’s and barrel aged brett fermented beers. Peoples’ palates simply don’t work that way.
If none of our gateway offerings are to your liking, we will beg your forgiveness and give you a taste of hero gateway beers from other Ontario breweries. (This post was written with several wonderful, blue Helles cans at my feet.) We will teach home brewing to those of you who want to learn to make their own masterpieces with the hope that you will come back to share your creations. We will teach beer and food pairings so you can impress at your next dinner party. And if you can’t cook, don’t worry, we will prepare some takeout and show you how to re-plate at home. In short, we will do our best to provide the learning experience that, once upon a time, captured our hearts and led to our brewery in the first place.
-Jason Kaptyn (Founder/Owner)