Remember Prohibition? Me neither, as it was almost a century ago, but I have watched the Untouchables numerous times and so I can confidently say that Waller St. Brewing’s ambiance and styling do an excellent job paying homage to that dark period in Canadian beer history. The new brewery, located in the basement of 14 Waller Street in the Market, is a tight but thoughtfully laid out space in an old stone heritage building. Much of the design is owed to head brewer Marc-André Chainey, a Val-Rita native who boasts skills in both homebrewing and bridge engineering: A true Renaissance man.
Like so many great business decisions, the idea for the brewery came about after a few pints. Marc tips his 1930s-style cap to the efforts of Beau’s for inspiring him. He was already looking into getting into distilling and thought brewing would be a good place to learn the ropes; he’s never looked back. The concept for the brewery is to be the neighbourhood brewery and with its central location, it will no doubt attract many thirsty clients and tourists.
The brewery itself is a piece of art. The speakeasy concept fits so well you’ll forget that you’re in the old Minglewoods (but you’ll never forget Minglewoods, try as you might). The beautiful wooden bar, with its inviting stools and stained-glass accents, is the centrepiece. The tanks blend in with a gorgeous custom built wooden insulating casing. Necessity breeds innovation, Marc explains, so the tanks sit on legs tall enough to allow for keg storage underneath, yet also low enough to allow tank access through the top. The grain sacks are stored in custom wooden shelves hung on the stone walls around the whole brewery. Knowing you’re in the basement of an 1866 Livery Stable (so says the heritage plaque on the outside of the building) also adds to the cultural ambiance. The ingenuity of the design is again on display when you realize all brewing equipment to have gotten through the one small door. Respect! Of course, the beer list reflects the theme offering Bootleg Blonde, Speakeasy Red, and Moonlight Porter (my favourite).
The location and the attention to detail will make the brewery a popular spot for visitors. The interesting and tasty brews will keep the locals coming back. What shines through most through seeing the space and through chatting with Marc is the creativity of Waller St. When we asked Marc about the ideal beer tour, he suggested go-carts (can we have the Apt613 legal team check this…?). When we asked him which style he enjoys brewing most, he answered those that go outside the boundaries of style. His creativity would have served well in the Prohibition days as the rumrunners found inventive ways to get around the long sober arms of the law.
The Bottle Shop (aka the brewery) is the best place to connect with the beers and people of the brewery. Currently, the doors are open Saturdays 1pm-5pm. But you can always drop them a line and connect: firstname.lastname@example.org?. The Grand Opening will be August 7 to coincide with International Beer Day.