Capital Pint by Travis Persaud is published regularly at OttawaMagazine.com. Follow Travis on twitter @tpersaud.
Two words summed up Beyond The Pale’s first week. “We’re fucked.”
It was a simple and honest assessment by brewer and co-owner Shane Clark, and everyone agreed.
“That was our motto,” says Robert McIsaac, co-owner of Beyond The Pale. “‘Well, we’re fucked!’ Everyone would just look around and nod.”
The Hintonburg brewery sold out their entire stock of beer during their first week of operations — a surprising and overwhelming feat for the then-tiny 900 sq. ft. brewhouse. And it hasn’t stopped.
“Do I remember? Well, yeah, it happened last week!” McIsaac says.
To say the little brewery at 5 Hamilton Ave. has experienced more than anticipated in its first year is a bit of an understatement. And by the looks of it on their Facebook page, it has resulted in many a high-five. Here’s the brief recap:
- They outgrew their space. “We knew it would be a squeeze, but we’d thought we would be okay for a couple of years,” McIsaac says. “[But] within three months we punched a hole in the wall and doubled our size.”
- They brewed way more than expected. “I didn’t think we’d have so many beers released by this point,” says Clark, who has pushed more than 20 styles out of the brewery. “I didn’t think we’d be able to sell that many different types of beer. It’s surreal.”
- They veered well off of the original plan: “It’s been very dynamic,” McIsaac says. “We continually reassess as needs come up. And we’re still learning to gauge the market. We didn’t know how many people would drink Imperial Super Guy. People crushed it. Same with our sour beer, we sold everything we bottled on the first day.”
It appears Beyond The Pale’s second year will be equally as busy and exciting as their first. They’re in the process of a major expansion that will open the possibility of getting into the LCBO, and potentially have them on the move.
“We’re purchasing a 15-barrel system in the new year,” McIsaac says. “Right now we’re on a 3 1/2-barrel system. This will allow us to do in half a day what now takes us two full days. But it won’t fit in our existing space.”
“Expanding [our current space] is always on the table,” Clark says. “The other option is to move, or open a second location to brew out of.” They’re currently looking in the neighbourhood for another space.
Regardless of where they land, though, you’ll be seeing a lot more of Beyond The Pale once the dust settles. “We haven’t aggressively sold to licensees because we don’t have enough beer to sell to too many of them,” McIsaac says. “That’s been a limitation for us. But the new system will let us explore that, and the LCBO as an outlet sometime next year. We’re talking about 16 oz. cans. We spend a lot on bottles; it’s really expensive. Cans make more sense for us and it’s amazing for the beer.”
Beyond The Pale’s first year as been a wild and unpredictable ride, and it looks like things won’t be slowing down anytime soon.