The London Brewing Co-op has transformed from a nanobrewery to a microbrewery, with the help of a $92,600 grant from both the provincial and federal government.
The money comes from a $2.1-million investment into agriculture and agri-food projects across southwestern Ontario, announced Friday by London North Centre MPP Deb Matthews and London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos.
“In one year, we went from one barrel all the way up to 15 barrels,” said Jeff Pastorius, who describes himself as a worker-owner with the London Brewing Co-op.
That means instead of 117 litres of beer per brewing run, they’re up to making 1,800 litres.
The money started flowing into the co-op last year. Pastorius said they purchased the first chunk of equipment at the start of February 2017, and the government reimbursed part of the cost. The step-by-step process of buying and reimbursing continued until the end of the year, allowing the Co-op to boast four fermentors, one brite tank, a hot liquor tank, a cold liquor tank, a mash tun and a boil kettle.
“We had a commitment from Day 1 to use local and organic ingredients as much as possible,” said Pastorius.
“Percentage-wise, we use the most local ingredients out of any brewery in the country … I think that got the fund’s attention, and they realized that if we got bigger — we’d use more local ingredients.”
Growing Forward 2 supported 33 projects in southwestern Ontario. In London, Black Fly Beverage Company received $250,000, Forked River Brewing Corporation received $108,000, The Original Cakerie received $100,000 and McCormick Canada received $100,000.
“What this announcement makes possible, is for over 30 businesses in the food processing and business sector to be given help that will allow them to increase productivity. Increased productivity means more jobs,” said Fragiskatos, who appeared on behalf of federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay.
The investments went towards various equipment upgrades.
“Both of our governments understand how important the agri-food business is to our economy,” said Matthews.
“It’s particularly important to southwestern Ontario, more than 800,000 jobs across the province are from the agri-food sector, and contributes more than $37 billion to our economy.”
Matthews noted a challenge from Premier Kathleen Wynne to double the number of jobs in the agri-food sector by creating 120,000 jobs by 2020.
“I’m happy to say we’re well on our way to achieving that goal.”
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