Our May 2021 newsletter featured Shakespeare Brewing Company, in Shakespeare, Ontario.
OHGA: When did you open the brewery?
Shakespeare Brewing: We opened July 15, 2017
OHGA: Why did you decide to launch a brewery?
Shakespeare Brewing: Craft beer has always been something of interest to us. It was really after we spent time in Europe that we decided this was our goal. Ayden learned to brew traditional English real cask ale at a farm/microbrewery we were living/working on in the quintessential English country side. When we returned to Canada we still felt there was more we needed to learn before jumping right into our own brewery. So when we returned Ayden put together a resume and got a job as the brewer at the newly opened Bell City Brewing Company in Brantford. He was there for about 3 years until we opened up shop in Shakespeare.
OHGA: How did you come up with brewery name?
Shakespeare Brewing: We were really creative… we named it after the town we are in. Ha ha but it seemed to make good marketing sense being so close to Stratford where Shakespeare is a pretty big deal.
OHGA: What’s the cool factor/unique about your brewery?
Shakespeare Brewing: Our branding is pretty fun. All of our core brands are named after animals. The labels have the animals dressed in Shakespearean clothing. This allowed us to touch base with the farm lifestyle in our area while still bringing in that Shakespeare component.
Another awesome thing is that we strive to use local ingredients as much as possible. We strictly use 100% Ontario hops. We also use 95% Canadian/ Ontario malt. We like to also support local farmers by using other local ingredients in our beer such as blueberries, honey, coffee, maple syrup, etc.
OHGA: Which brews are selling best?
Shakespeare Brewing: Our 4 core brands that we sell in tall cans are definitely our best sellers. By volume we likely sell the most of our Fryfogel Fox Lager as it reaches the biggest audience. But we also have good fan following for our Classy Cow Milk Stout, Grumpy Goat IPA and our Reckless Rooster Ontario Pale Ale.
OHGA: How do you decide which recipes to offer?
Shakespeare Brewing: For our core brands we like to have a good range of light, bitter, malty and dark. Then we like to play around with different brews seasonally like a Christmas tree Ale, Pumpkin Brown Ale, Pina Colada Ale and Maple Syrup Barrel Aged Brown Ale.
OHGA: Where do you sell your beer?
Shakespeare Brewing: We sell about 90-95% of our beer through our retail store/ online store. We also sell our cans and kegs to a few select restaurants including Back Roads Brews and Shoes.
OHGA: What is your favourite part of being with the brewery?
Shakespeare Brewing: The brewing industry is a really fun world to work in. There are many aspects to running a brewery which means your days are never really the same. One day could be filled with brewing and packaging and the next could be spent chatting with customers or being creative thinking of new recipes or designing to labels.
OHGA: What part of your job do you not like?
Shakespeare Brewing: I think the hardest part of the job is trying to differentiate yourself from the many other breweries out there. It is sometimes hard to find brand loyalty when everyone wants to try what is new.
OHGA: Do you buy Ontario Hops?
Shakespeare Brewing: Yes we buy exclusively Ontario Hops from a few local hop farms. Why would you not want to support local farmers and showcase local hop flavours?
OHGA: What factors do you consider when you are buying hops?
Shakespeare Brewing: Like we said if they are local Ontario hops we want to try them. Flavour is a big component and alpha acid too. We base our recipes off of those two things often.
OHGA: What advice would you have for Ontario Hop Growers?
Shakespeare Brewing: Keep going. Keep educating the public and supporting breweries who support you.