Yesterday, Ben Johnson posted that Toronto's Beer Academy, an experimental brewery located at Victoria and Richmond Streets (prime Toronto real estate on which to promote and sell owner Molson Coors' craft beer brands, Creemore and Granville Island products) will shut its doors permanently.
Johnson's unnamed source also reported that the space will shut for renovations until mid 2015 when a Creemore brewpub will open in its place; and that "entire staff of The Beer Academy—including all the retail staff, the General Manager, the on-site chef, and the tour guides--have been unceremoniously fired just in time for Christmas."
Last night, the PR company working for Six Pints's Specialty Beer Company (the Molson Coors division that operates its craft and specialty imports) reached out to me. This morning I talked to Six PInts General Manager, Jennifer Davidson about what's going down. She detailed the staff firing, and confirmed the Beer Academy name is no more—but she was vague about the new concept, except to say that Creemore would be at the forefront, and Granville Island, not so much. Oh, and she is very excited about it.
When pressed on whether it would indeed be a Creemore Springs Brewpub, she answered, "it "won't be called Creemore Springs Brewpub." Hmmm. OK.
Here's our quick Q&A:
What's going on with the Beer Academy and will a Creemore Springs Brewpub be opening in its place?
We are closing for significant renovations and opening with an interesting, unique concept—the Creemore brand being one of the brands we're considering. But it's not as straight forward as a Creemore Springs Brewpub. The timing is Fall 2015.
We did have to let 11 people go—seven of which were casual, part-time staff. They're great people and it was a difficult decision for me as I work with them everyday. We did give the group double the amount of customary notice [that's four weeks instead of two], and really treated people well financially. It's unfortunate that the timing does fall over the holidays. We told staff at the beginning of December.
So is the Beer Academy concept done?
It won't be called the Beer Academy. Although that name could find its way in there, I see the arm of Beer Academy being more about beer education and beer training, so the name beer academy could live on that way.
But it's also not going to be a Creemore Springs brewpub?
It's not going to be called Creemore Springs Brewpub, no. Creemore is a big brand for us in the province, and we've invested lots of money at the brewery at Creemore recently, so it will be a brand that’s featured.
What about Granville Island?
Well, Granville Island could be available, potentially. We have that portfolio and we know that drinkers here are open to West Coast beer, but it won’t be fronted. We have the Granville Island taproom on the island (in Vancouver) so that brand is more focused for us in the west.
Will Stephen Rich be staying on as head brewer?
Yes. He's young and energetic and he makes great beers, we are happy that he's staying on.
So can you give any more information on the new concept?
We are going to keep the brewing there. Food will be part of it and beer will be at the forefront.
Are the renovations about expanding the brewery, or are we talking cosmetics?
We are making some upgrades to the brewing, but a lot of the renovations will be on concept and design.