Right now, the building that has just been leased by Mandie and Mark Murphy, the pair of masterminds behind Left Field Brewery, is still a raw, empty space. One of a series of small industrial buildings in an otherwise residential neighbourhood in Leslieville, the property—with its huge ceilings and fragmenting paint, strange bathrooms and gnarly little office spaces—is lovely in the way that abandoned buildings loved by urban explorers are lovely. Only the Left Field Brewery banners hanging proudly from the rafters like championship pennants hint at what it soon will become, but you can see the potential in the lonely space—a poky alcove with a skylight begging to become a patio, a huge main area ready to be filled with the sound of production equipment.
Left Field was named in honour of Mark and Mandie’s mutual love of baseball, and the deep relationship both believe exists between the sport and enjoying a beer. The theme of this natural pairing informs everything from their logo design, which features a stylized baseball, to the naming convention of their beers: they offer a double IPA called 6-4-3 after baseball’s most common double play, for example, and a pale ale dubbed Maris after the player who finally beat Babe Ruth’s home-run record. “There’s great potential for baseball puns,” Mandie notes.
Despite not having its own brewing facilities, Left Field Brewery has been making delicious brews and acquiring fans since early 2013. After attending brewing school at Niagara College, Mark Murphy quit his day job as a chartered accountant and began working on Left Field. By the end of the year, the business had taken off, and in January, Mandie also quit her job to become Left Field’s second full-time employee. “Now our entire household income is Left Field,” Mark notes, sounding confident.
The Murphys have good reason to put their faith in Left Field. Their beer is currently produced by two other breweries following their recipes—Grand River brewery in Cambridge and Barley Days Brewery in Picton—and they’ve rapidly outgrown this outsourcing model. Mandie says, “The question that we get at least a couple of times a day from beer fans is when and where can they get our product.” Having their own brewery would increase their capacity and vary their packaging options (right now they’re limited to draft), meaning they’d be able to supply the LCBO and Beer Store as well as their current restaurant and bar clients. “We can’t brew enough beer at the facility that we’re working out of,” Mandie elaborates. “We know the demand is there, so the priority is getting this up and running as soon as possible.” “We’ll also have more ability to do one-offs and seasonals,” Mark adds.
Opening its own space will allow Left Field to take the final step from hobby home-brewery to fully functioning micro-brewery. In the meantime, there are architects to meet with, renovations to be planned, and more equipment to be ordered. While this open house is taking place before Left Field technically has a functioning house to open, the Murphys see Left Field Brewery as a future community hub, and are eager to invite the Leslieville community to become a part of what they’re building.
The post originally provided incorrect spellings for Mandie Murphy’s first name. We regret the error.