Left Field Brewery's baseball-themed beers are starting to flow from Toronto's taps.
Southern Ontario’s beer boom continues with the launch of a new brewery, just in time for the start of the Blue Jays’ season. The baseball-themed Left Field Brewery is currently leasing production space at the Grand River Brewery in Cambridge, but founders Mark and Mandie Murphy (yes, they’re a married couple) are working on opening their own facility in Toronto.
“I’ve always been a huge Jays fan and it’s fantastic to finally see the city embracing both our team and our local beer scene,” Mark Murphy said. “At the end of the day, the baseball branding is really just a way for us to have some fun and to help people remember us. For me, the big focus is really the beer.”
Murphy attended the Brewmaster program at Niagara College. “The Niagara program covers everything from sensory training to brewing science and brewery management, which was really great and helped me land my last job with one of the big brewers,” he said. He also has a background in accounting, and Mandie has one in marketing. The couple hopes this experience will help them with the business end of their venture.
The process of finding a Toronto location for Left Field Brewery is still in its early stages, Murphy said. He and his wife live in the city’s east end, and would like to set up shop there.
In the meantime, beer and baseball fans can enjoy Left Field’s flagship brew at Bar Volo, Tequila Bookworm, and The Only Cafe. All three spots are currently pouring Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale, which is named after a very rare baseball pitch. Murphy expects that Left Field’s beer will soon be on tap in even more locations in the city. “We’re technically only a week old and I’m talking to new bars and restaurants every day,” he said. “The response so far has been really good. We hope to be announcing some new accounts this week.”
Left Field Brewery is part of a continent-wide craft-beer wave, of which Ontario is a part. The share of beer sales for craft brewers in the province is still relatively small, at about five per cent of beer volume sold, but it has more than doubled since 2002. Craft brew is the fastest-growing segment in the beer category for the LCBO, with sales increasing by about ten per cent annually.
Murphy thinks increased focus on local food production is helping to fuel growth of the craft beer industry in the province. “The foodie movement and an appreciation for more flavourful and diverse beer options is also playing into it,” he said. “Our demographic seems to be a lot more knowledgeable when it comes to beer styles, and they’re looking to experiment each time they go out for a pint.” Craft sales in Canada are still far behind those in the U.S., he pointed out, so there’s plenty of room for new breweries like Left Field to grow.
If you want to try Left Field’s other two beers—6-4-3 Double IPA and Maris American Pale Ale—as well as Eephus, head to 3030 Dundas West on the evening of April 5, where all three will be on tap for the brewery’s launch party. It’s the first time all three of Left Field’s beers will be on tap all at once. The game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox will be playing on a big screen, and baseball-themed food pairings by Chef Adisa Glasgow will be served.
This post originally stated that Grand River Brewery is located in Guelph, when in fact it is located in Cambridge. We regret the error.