This article originally appeared here: stevengoetzphotography.com/toronto-craft-beer-revolutionaries/
In the air-conditioned brew house, Jeff Broeders is moving quickly between tanks and a seven-foot-tall brew kettle and lauter tun, building up a quick sweat. He is starting a new batch of his most popular beer – the Instigator IPA, a west-coast-style pale ale – and adding 50 pounds of raspberries to a special batch started a week ago.
Broeders is the brewmaster at the Indie Alehouse – a brewpub and microbrewery opened last October in the Junction. He graduated from Niagara College’s brewing program last year and immediately went to work with classmate Jason Fisher, Indie Alehouse’s owner. The two bonded over a shared brewing philosophy.
“We don’t make any lagers,” says Fisher. “We don’t make any light beers, so if that’s what you’re used to, this is a big step up.”
The pub has 12 taps – ten devoted to beers brewed on site and two guest taps for fellow craft brewers. Two are rotated out every week so there is always something new to try. The lightest beer is six per cent alcohol; most reach up to nine.
“Big beers with big flavour,” sums up Broeders.
If big flavour is the destination, Broeders gets there by a steady drive of experimentation. The basement is filled with 60 wine and whisky barrels aging a dozen or more trials. He works fast and loose with traditional recipes. Some recent concoctions: an odd sour with the distinct taste of pickle juice; a pinot-noir-barrel stout, popular with wine drinkers; a subtle and refreshing blood orange imperial wit; a perfectly complex and balanced wheat wine aged in Four Roses bourbon barrels, a collaboration with a local homebrewers’ club.
“Doing off-the-wall stuff is the way to go but to also keep it structured and true to the beer itself,” says Broeders. “The idea is to make beers that we like to drink.”
A brewpub in the Junction was unthinkable just 15 years ago. The ‘hood only repealed prohibition – the banning of alcohol sales and public consumption – in 1998. The brewpub is proof that the area has moved beyond that protestant ethos. According to Fisher, 80 per cent of their clientele are locals, many are regulars. Demand is high. Even before the summer drinking season starts, the brew house is producing at capacity.
“Hopefully we’ll create room for some more tanks in the future,” says Broeders. “But one step at a time.”
The Indie Alehouse is located at 2876 Dundas St West. A selection of their beer is available to purchase in growlers from their on-site retail store. indiealehouse.com