After almost two years of being open, and 2+ years of struggling to open, this is my first blog post for the Indie Alehouse and it will give a slight glimpse of who I am and how the Indie Alehouse operates. For the un-initiated to the local craft beer scene, and the Indie Alehouse in particular, it will seem we have some very strong views (and beers to match). These come from a desire to grow and help improve the beer scene in the city, not from any sense of superior self, but because I think we as Torontonians deserve better. In fact I know we do.
Toronto is a world-class city, despite current local politics, but until very recently has had a “less than world class” beer scene. It has been said in the past that you could see the blandness of the Toronto beer scene from space. A lot of this can be explained by knowing that our oppressive beer distribution system is a monopoly, which heavily favours mass-produced bland beer, because it’s run and owned by those producers (the Beer Store is not run by the government, it’s run by 3 international big brewer conglomerates). The Government run LCBO system is not much better – their rules and laws are from 100 years ago and they do little to evolve them with the customer in mind and instead focus on profit and self preservation.
Sadly, what’s really holding back the industry is often the breweries themselves. Caught between serving booming business needs and a desire to make better beer, too many are trying to grow as fast as they can by playing the big brewer game and run around town buying taps, hosting dance parties and trying to go ‘viral’ all day with their marketing ideas. Too little effort is put into customer education and just making better beer. The Toronto craft beer scene suffers from the same affliction our hockey team suffers from – why be great when ok sells out. There are some world-class standouts in this town, but a side-by-side comparison of the entire craft beer landscape with any other major town puts us to shame.
Citizens could rise up and make business, politicians and team owners take notice, but as good Ontarians we mostly suffer silently. This too will change, because now, thanks to a few brewers in town and more on the way, better beer is here and more is coming. We’re thrilled to be a part of that change, sorry we can’t help with the hockey team.
Owner and very occasional brewer – The Indie Alehouse