The beer industry in Canada seems to be at a crossroads. The number of breweries in Canada has tripled over the past five years. Despite this, the consumption per capita has decreased gradually for over a decade. People are drinking less beer in favour of other alcoholic beverages such as wine and cocktails. Hamilton, Ontario has become a hub for craft beer as it has the perfect environment where craft breweries can thrive.
Business is Boomin
Hamilton itself has a little over half a million people, most of whom have developed a taste for craft beer over the past five years. As is the case with the rest of the country, the number of breweries in Hamilton has exploded over the past decade. It went from having no breweries to six in four years with another opening this December.
A lot of this has to do with the growth of trendy neighbourhoods throughout the city. The past ten years have seen the revitalization of James St. North and Westdale with boutiques, coffee shops, and of course, micro-breweries. It is no surprise that these breweries are clustered around industrial zones as well as fashionable areas.
Clifford Brewing is located in the heart of the Hamilton industrial zone. What was once bustling with steelworkers and shipyards is now a quiet neighbourhood with empty buildings. Anyone looking to open a brewery is going to have to find a large workspace with good ventilation. These old industrial areas are perfect for small breweries as they offer low-cost buildings that can easily be fitted to fit the brewers’ needs.
Put on your work boots
Hamilton has a very distinct identity blue-collar, a steel town that starkly contrasts its fancy big brother that lives on the other side of the harbour in Toronto. While beer is slowly being replaced by wine in Canada, Hamilton can be a home for the hoppy beverage because of that previously mentioned blue-collar identity. Wine is still seen as something for those with wealth, people who drive nice cars and host fancy dinner parties. Hamilton is a place that still has that industrial city, roll up our sleeves and go to work identity. Craft beer allows Hamiltonians to experience this new wave of flavours while still having a cold one after a long day’s work. For example, Fairweather Brewing’s product list is littered with odd flavours. Beer made with coconut, mango, or bubblegum allows people to try new things without breaking the bank on a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Another important factor in the success of the breweries in Hamilton is the fact that they are heavily involved with the community. Collective Arts is located near the Hamilton General Hospital and their entire brewery is decorated with beautiful murals, all of which were done by local artists. While Shawn and Ed Brewing were hosting a charity event for the SPCA in Hamilton. These companies are invested in improving the city, spotlighting local creatives and creating a sense of community in Hamilton.
A full list of breweries in Hamilton can be found below:
For more general information about beer, listen to my podcast below:
Here is some of the damage that was done after making that tasting video. Please remember to drink responsibly. So crack open a cold one and listen to my favourite beer song: Drink in My Hand by Eric Church.