According to a feature in Hamilton Business magazine this week, the craft beer business in Hamilton is hopping.
Ok, pour pun, but the news is very positive for the industry and holds strong prospects for the city’s economy as a whole.
For one thing, the article notes that craft beer has grown to represent 4% of beer sales in the province. This may not seem like a huge amount, but there has been a groundswell of public interest in craft beer to complement our growing thirst for new and authentic flavours and brewing traditions. Not to mention the recent report by the Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets – which worked with the industry to create new distribution channels for small brewers – states “the New Beer Framework requires TBS [The Beer Store] to allocate a minimum of 20% of all shelf space, and merchandising, marketing and promotional programs within TBS to small brewers”, which is roughly triple their current market share and shelf space.
Hamilton already has a few small and craft brewers setting up shop in the area, like Nickel Brook and Collective Arts in the North End and Shed Brewery in Dundas. Contract brewers (those who brew their beer at other brewers’ bricks-and-mortar establishments) like The Hamilton Brewery, are also selling their suds in local establishments.
So, what does this mean for Hamilton?
Take a look at this 2014 article on a report from commercial real estate brokerage Colliers International on the Vancouver craft brewing scene. Specifically:
Real estate market conditions in Vancouver seem ideal to facilitate growth of nano-scale breweries, according to a recent report by commercial realtor Colliers….Light industrial and warehouse businesses have fled Vancouver for larger buildings, outside storage and better transportation access in the suburbs, leaving the city with a supply of modest-sized, aging buildings that are considerably less expensive to lease than commercially zoned space, said Colliers property broker Matt Smith.
A similar story is found in a Boston Biz Journal article from last month:
Communities with manufacturing legacies often have the kind of existing infrastructure breweries are seeking. That includes the bones of the buildings themselves, which can lend a certain character and feel to a brewery, but also the water, sewer and power capacity that would ideally service a full-scale manufacturing operation, said Art Robert [director of community and economic development for the town of Framingham, Mass]. And that type of real estate decision can make or break a brewery’s success.
Finally, tying it together, another Hamilton Business article notes that Colliers believes Hamilton is well positioned to support businesses (in this case, relocating from other parts of the GTA) due to five key attributes, these three in particular for breweries: Lower overall rent, taxes and development charges for the corporation and costs of living for employees; A highly skilled labour force; and, Redevelopment opportunities in terms of industrial and office stock and city incentives.
To summarize, Hamilton boasts the physical infrastructure in its supply of appropriate building stock, has the opportunity created by a new (provincewide) distribution framework, a growing and supportive audience and, of course, the talent to make the fine beers the market craves.
This is not surprising, as Hamilton has a long tradition in skilled craftsmanship across a range of industries. Hopefully, this will help existing beer businesses grow and encourage others to jump onto the scene to help write a new history of craft production. Cheers!