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For people who love beer, Toronto is a haven. There are breweries everywhere, much to the enthusiast's delight. One such brewery is ready to expand upon its popularity and open a second location.
Burdock Brewery, currently located on Bloor West, is set to take over the iconic structure that previously housed SASMART in Kensington Market. While the initial location exists as a brewpub plus brewing facility, the new spot will operate as a scaled-up production space as well as a retail hub for all things Burdock.
The new space will have sort of an observation deck where people can come in through the main entrance and look at the entire production floor with its large tanks and fermenters, giving it quite the industrial vibe. Almost "Death Star" like, as put eloquently by Matthew Park, co-founder of Burdock.
As for the retail part, the store will sell the brewery's entire catalogue, including everything from the first location. On top of that, it will also house other products in partnership with local sellers like ice cream, frozen dumplings, coffee, snacks, cheeses and meats. It will act as a provisions-adjacent store.
To sweeten the deal for the first couple of months, Park and team will be stocking the retail store with rare products from their archives that they released a year or two ago, sort of like a lure to get extra footfall in the initial months.
Now, some might think that the introduction of this new space might be detrimental to the Bloor West location, but it is quite the opposite.
While currently the team is operating solely out of the 800-square-foot brewery, the addition of the production space will help ease the pressure of working in such a tight space. The plan is to slow down things at that location and focus on recipe development and more experimental projects while the brunt of the production is handed off to the new spot. This, in turn, will end up helping the restaurant, Park said.
"The restaurant will probably do a bit better because we'll have a broader selection of beers available because we will make more kinds of beers," he said. "Ultimately, our goal is to make more better beer, you know, and this project in Kensington Market is going to allow us to kind of make a lot of really good beer."
One of the team's primary goals is to increase production and have beer consistently available for bars and restaurants — something it has always struggled with.
"This will kind of allow us to have lagers consistently available 365 days a year," Park said. "Whereas before, in the summer months, we had to kind of cut all of our lager production because we just couldn't make enough of it. It takes twice as long to make."
While there exists a myriad of breweries across the GTA, it doesn't bother Park because he chooses to focus on his process and product as opposed to keeping tabs on what others are doing. Blinkers on, the team at Burdock focuses on procuring the highest quality ingredients, keeping in mind the rigorous quality control that has developed over the years. The consumers are always at the forefront and are kept in mind during each step of the process.
"At the end of the day, we just want to make beer that we're really proud of, that we think is a valuable contribution to people's lives in Toronto and Ontario," Park said. "People work hard for their money and we want to give them a really good experience — something they feel is valuable for them. And I think, you know, that's our secret sauce."
All this might seem like a lot of words to get lost in, but the crux of the message is clear — Burdock has built the new facility so that it can make "truly world-class beer all year round."
"Quality and freshness will continue to be our top priority to us as we grow because beer tastes better fresh," Park wrote in an email". Our goal is NOT to become a huge brewery — otherwise, we would have moved to an industrial park in Etobicoke! We’re here to make the best beer we can and in a way that everyone can see for themselves right from the shop."
Burdock Brewery's latest venture is now open to the public with its grand opening weekend starting today and continuing until Monday. Anyone interested in checking out what sounds like a super interesting space can find the spot at 6 Denison Square in Kensington Market. And hurry, we heard that the first 50 people through the doors get some fun merchandise as well!