'Contract' brewing boom in Ontario stokes debate over future of craft beer
Craft beer in Ontario is booming – there are an estimated 216 craft breweries in Ontario and roughly 120 more that will open soon.
However, this boom has also given rise to a number of craft breweries that aren't actually breweries at all. You won't find their address on any walking brewery tours, and you can't stop in for a sample and a chat with the brewer, because these businesses, known as "contract breweries," ostensibly rent space from larger, established breweries to make their beer. They often pay a brewmaster to develop recipes, then use host breweries to package and store their beer. Depending on the contract, the brewery can brew and package the beer, or the facility is simply rented to companies which brew the beer themselves.
At one time, they were something of a rarity in the province – two "virtual breweries" opened here every year from 2010 to 2012 – but the number of these companies has skyrocketed in the past couple of years to almost 70, according to the industry news site, Ontario Beverage Network. Full story
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