When you walk in the front door of Arch Brewing on Pony Drive in Newmarket, you can’t help but notice something majestic in the air. And it’s not just the aroma of hops I’m referring to; it’s the feat of a dream coming to life.
Suzie and Billy King opened the doors of their microbrewery to the public on Friday, February 12, 2016. It’s an eight-year-long aspiration come true for the Mount Albert-based entrepreneurs.
Craft beer is certainly gaining momentum amongst beer drinkers. Even those who are new to the beer scene will gain a taste and appreciation for the brewing process once they’ve toured behind-the-scenes at a place like Arch Brewing. “Beer is a really artistic product,” says Suzie King, co-owner of Arch Brewing. Every step, from production to the design of the label, requires an artistic touch. “We’re trying to make what we want, and we’re trying to keep it different.”
The room for creative expression was part of the appeal for King to pursue a career change. She and her husband both came from backgrounds unrelated to the beer industry. “We were regular, mainstream beer drinkers,” she says. But after attending a beer tasting over eight years ago, something changed. “We were intrigued by the amount of different flavours, tastes and variety.”
The Kings started seeking out more beer tastings, and their interest and knowledge continued to grow. When they couldn’t find a certain beer they were looking for, they started home brewing to satisfy the craving themselves.
Soon, the idea to open their own brewery sparked, and they couldn’t stop thinking about it. “We took baby steps and started a contract brewing service,” explains King. They worked closely with another brewery to make their beer and package it under their label. From there, they applied to the LCBO to be listed on the shelves. “The first time they flat out rejected us,” says King. “We were very green. The second time we did a better job, and we got accepted.”
On February 6, 2014, Arch Brewing officially hit the shelves. “That was our test to see if we could stomach being in business,” King says. As time passed, the Kings’ dream of opening a brewery continued to grow. They started looking for their own space, and eventually stumbled upon the current location in Newmarket. It was bigger than what they were looking for, but this meant they could use bigger equipment. It meant they could brew more beer.
They took possession in January of 2015. “It’s been a series of applying for licenses and permits since then,” says King. Come July, she officially made the leap and started brewing full-time.
Bill and Suzie have big plans for Arch. Right now, they’re focused on creating a home away from home for the community; a place where residents and travellers alike can come by to take a tour, learn how craft beer is made, taste something new, and share some laughs. “I think people care about what they drink, they want to know the story behind what they’re drinking,” says King. She compares the craft beer experience to that of a wine tasting. It’s about letting go of expectations. “If you come in and say, ‘I like Coors Light,’ you’ll have that in mind and you won’t like it,” she says. “Keep an open mind; close your eyes, and just taste.”
So far the Kings have made 12 unique-flavoured beers, including WeakDay Afternoon Copper (4%), Reverend Red (4.8%), Flip Flop Porter (6.8%), TwoEyesPA (7.5%), and Anker X Imperial Stout (10.4%). You can taste the flavours on tap, and buy your favourites by the can or bottle. The Kings plan to continue experimenting now that they have the square-footage and equipment required to do so; and they urge fellow beer drinkers to join them.
Are you a fan of craft beer? The Optimist Club of Aurora is hosting its Third Annual Beer Tasting Evening, April 22nd, at the Aurora Armories at 89 Mosley Street from 5:30-11:30pm, featuring local breweries, food vendors and live music.
written by Charlotte Ottaway
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