Black Oak Brewing weathered early days of craft breweries and is enjoying its popularity

News Jun 12, 2014 by Mark A. Cadiz Etobicoke Guardian

The thirst for craft beer in Ontario is booming as local breweries continue to rack up national accolades.

Award-winning Black Oak Brewing, one of the early craft breweries based in Etobicoke, has been contributing to the rise in beer culture.

Black Oak’s head brewer and Bloor West Village resident Jon Hodd has been brewing beer for seven years and has noticed a significant change in beer awareness among consumers.

“A large amount of the general public these days know a lot about craft beer and their local breweries,” Hodd said. “They are excepting and loving the new flavours Ontario is producing. People that used to drink classic lagers are now asking their local bars about India Pale Ales or wheat beers.”

Coming from a diverse background Hodd is a chef turned French cheese maker, educated musician, and now a brewing master.

“I learnt a lot from former head brewer Simon DeCosta who has formal training in Scotland,” Hodd said. “When I first started here, I got to brew the beer, filter the beer and bottle the beer.”

Hodd said he thinks it is invaluable to be familiar with all the stages of making a good beer, especially since they are pumping out a lot more as the overall demand in craft beer grows.

Downtown resident Ken Woods, owner and president of Black Oak Brewing, said sales have dramatically increased since 2011. A sign of happier days perhaps, since things haven’t always been so cheery in the Ontario craft beer industry.

“It was a lot harder than I thought,” Woods said. “I thought people would respond better especially based on some successes by other breweries at the time, but to get the traction and start building sales was tough.”

Up until the recent surge in demand the Ontario craft brewing market was far behind other provinces like Quebec and British Columbia, which had longer histories in brewing beer.

“The challenge in the Ontario industry was more about market awareness of craft beer and the willingness of people to try it,” Woods said.

Wanting to be closer to their main customers in Toronto, in 2008 Black Oak Brewing left its Oakville home since 1999 for Etobicoke. Call it perfect timing because it was around that time that local beer culture started its upswing.

Long gone are the days of just finding classic mainstream lagers at your local hole-in-the-wall. Hodd said people today are really into what is being produced locally and are not afraid of a new flavour experience.

The market has changed. Thankfully the bustling restaurant and bar scene have had their hand in helping develop the craft beer market making the transition easier for the wary beer drinkers of Ontario. Many are interested in bringing in something different and something local, which makes a huge difference for breweries.

For many years beers from Europe reigned supreme, but local breweries like Black Oak are now stepping up and saying they can make beer that is just as good, if not, even better.

Another sign beer culture is thriving are beer festivals and beer tours popping up around the province. The Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival, enters its fourth year bringing together 30 Ontario breweries, including Black Oak, and their supporters. Events like these are not only good for local businesses, but contribute to the overall growth of beer culture.

And for those aspiring brewers, Hodd said a lot of patience and a good work ethic is required.

“There is so much science, engineering and chemistry that goes into beer making I definitely consider myself very young at it,” Hodd said.

Beer events give the brewers a chance to experiment, get creative and make new exciting beers – a win-win for beer and their devoted beer enthusiasts who get to sample new beers.

Sponsored by Metroland Media, the Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival – part of Ontario Craft Beer Week – will take place at Yonge-Dundas Square on June 13 and 14.

For more information on Session, visit www.sessiontoronto.com

For more information on Ontario Craft Beer Week, visit www.ocbweek.ca

Black Oak Brewing weathered early days of craft breweries and is enjoying its popularity

Etobicoke-based brewery pouring during Session festival, June 13 and 14

News Jun 12, 2014 by Mark A. Cadiz Etobicoke Guardian

The thirst for craft beer in Ontario is booming as local breweries continue to rack up national accolades.

Award-winning Black Oak Brewing, one of the early craft breweries based in Etobicoke, has been contributing to the rise in beer culture.

Black Oak’s head brewer and Bloor West Village resident Jon Hodd has been brewing beer for seven years and has noticed a significant change in beer awareness among consumers.

“A large amount of the general public these days know a lot about craft beer and their local breweries,” Hodd said. “They are excepting and loving the new flavours Ontario is producing. People that used to drink classic lagers are now asking their local bars about India Pale Ales or wheat beers.”

Coming from a diverse background Hodd is a chef turned French cheese maker, educated musician, and now a brewing master.

“I learnt a lot from former head brewer Simon DeCosta who has formal training in Scotland,” Hodd said. “When I first started here, I got to brew the beer, filter the beer and bottle the beer.”

Hodd said he thinks it is invaluable to be familiar with all the stages of making a good beer, especially since they are pumping out a lot more as the overall demand in craft beer grows.

Downtown resident Ken Woods, owner and president of Black Oak Brewing, said sales have dramatically increased since 2011. A sign of happier days perhaps, since things haven’t always been so cheery in the Ontario craft beer industry.

“It was a lot harder than I thought,” Woods said. “I thought people would respond better especially based on some successes by other breweries at the time, but to get the traction and start building sales was tough.”

Up until the recent surge in demand the Ontario craft brewing market was far behind other provinces like Quebec and British Columbia, which had longer histories in brewing beer.

“The challenge in the Ontario industry was more about market awareness of craft beer and the willingness of people to try it,” Woods said.

Wanting to be closer to their main customers in Toronto, in 2008 Black Oak Brewing left its Oakville home since 1999 for Etobicoke. Call it perfect timing because it was around that time that local beer culture started its upswing.

Long gone are the days of just finding classic mainstream lagers at your local hole-in-the-wall. Hodd said people today are really into what is being produced locally and are not afraid of a new flavour experience.

The market has changed. Thankfully the bustling restaurant and bar scene have had their hand in helping develop the craft beer market making the transition easier for the wary beer drinkers of Ontario. Many are interested in bringing in something different and something local, which makes a huge difference for breweries.

For many years beers from Europe reigned supreme, but local breweries like Black Oak are now stepping up and saying they can make beer that is just as good, if not, even better.

Another sign beer culture is thriving are beer festivals and beer tours popping up around the province. The Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival, enters its fourth year bringing together 30 Ontario breweries, including Black Oak, and their supporters. Events like these are not only good for local businesses, but contribute to the overall growth of beer culture.

And for those aspiring brewers, Hodd said a lot of patience and a good work ethic is required.

“There is so much science, engineering and chemistry that goes into beer making I definitely consider myself very young at it,” Hodd said.

Beer events give the brewers a chance to experiment, get creative and make new exciting beers – a win-win for beer and their devoted beer enthusiasts who get to sample new beers.

Sponsored by Metroland Media, the Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival – part of Ontario Craft Beer Week – will take place at Yonge-Dundas Square on June 13 and 14.

For more information on Session, visit www.sessiontoronto.com

For more information on Ontario Craft Beer Week, visit www.ocbweek.ca

Black Oak Brewing weathered early days of craft breweries and is enjoying its popularity

Etobicoke-based brewery pouring during Session festival, June 13 and 14

News Jun 12, 2014 by Mark A. Cadiz Etobicoke Guardian

The thirst for craft beer in Ontario is booming as local breweries continue to rack up national accolades.

Award-winning Black Oak Brewing, one of the early craft breweries based in Etobicoke, has been contributing to the rise in beer culture.

Black Oak’s head brewer and Bloor West Village resident Jon Hodd has been brewing beer for seven years and has noticed a significant change in beer awareness among consumers.

“A large amount of the general public these days know a lot about craft beer and their local breweries,” Hodd said. “They are excepting and loving the new flavours Ontario is producing. People that used to drink classic lagers are now asking their local bars about India Pale Ales or wheat beers.”

Coming from a diverse background Hodd is a chef turned French cheese maker, educated musician, and now a brewing master.

“I learnt a lot from former head brewer Simon DeCosta who has formal training in Scotland,” Hodd said. “When I first started here, I got to brew the beer, filter the beer and bottle the beer.”

Hodd said he thinks it is invaluable to be familiar with all the stages of making a good beer, especially since they are pumping out a lot more as the overall demand in craft beer grows.

Downtown resident Ken Woods, owner and president of Black Oak Brewing, said sales have dramatically increased since 2011. A sign of happier days perhaps, since things haven’t always been so cheery in the Ontario craft beer industry.

“It was a lot harder than I thought,” Woods said. “I thought people would respond better especially based on some successes by other breweries at the time, but to get the traction and start building sales was tough.”

Up until the recent surge in demand the Ontario craft brewing market was far behind other provinces like Quebec and British Columbia, which had longer histories in brewing beer.

“The challenge in the Ontario industry was more about market awareness of craft beer and the willingness of people to try it,” Woods said.

Wanting to be closer to their main customers in Toronto, in 2008 Black Oak Brewing left its Oakville home since 1999 for Etobicoke. Call it perfect timing because it was around that time that local beer culture started its upswing.

Long gone are the days of just finding classic mainstream lagers at your local hole-in-the-wall. Hodd said people today are really into what is being produced locally and are not afraid of a new flavour experience.

The market has changed. Thankfully the bustling restaurant and bar scene have had their hand in helping develop the craft beer market making the transition easier for the wary beer drinkers of Ontario. Many are interested in bringing in something different and something local, which makes a huge difference for breweries.

For many years beers from Europe reigned supreme, but local breweries like Black Oak are now stepping up and saying they can make beer that is just as good, if not, even better.

Another sign beer culture is thriving are beer festivals and beer tours popping up around the province. The Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival, enters its fourth year bringing together 30 Ontario breweries, including Black Oak, and their supporters. Events like these are not only good for local businesses, but contribute to the overall growth of beer culture.

And for those aspiring brewers, Hodd said a lot of patience and a good work ethic is required.

“There is so much science, engineering and chemistry that goes into beer making I definitely consider myself very young at it,” Hodd said.

Beer events give the brewers a chance to experiment, get creative and make new exciting beers – a win-win for beer and their devoted beer enthusiasts who get to sample new beers.

Sponsored by Metroland Media, the Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival – part of Ontario Craft Beer Week – will take place at Yonge-Dundas Square on June 13 and 14.

For more information on Session, visit www.sessiontoronto.com

For more information on Ontario Craft Beer Week, visit www.ocbweek.ca