Get your fridge ready.
It’s hard to believe that it was only as recent as late 2014 when the announcement of an on-site nanobrewery at the renowned Habits Gastropub at 928 College Street was underway. Brewers Christina Coady and Chris Conway, both with extensive homebrewing experience, were invited by Habits owners Michelle Genttner and Chef Luis Martins to produce beers out of their pilot system.
Right off the bat, Habits managed to set itself apart from other nanobreweries with a greater focus on food and making saisons their primary style—an odd choice for many at the time, given that every brewery and its dog had a pale ale or IPA coming out of the gate.
But it was only a matter of months before they soon outgrew their current setup.
Coady and Conway were only working part-time as brewers, creating small batches of beer on days when the kitchen at Habits was unoccupied. After it became clear that beer production needed to be expanded, Coady, Conway, Genttner, and Martins all set out to create a full-on brewpub with enough space to brew a number of different beers and a food menu that would complement the beverages served.
Exactly one year following the announcement of Habits entering the world of in-house beer, the newly branded Folly Brewpub made its debut.
And it was a hell of a debut. The beers, mostly Belgian-inspired, ranging from sour to dry to somewhat fruity, ended up being such a hit that they, along with nearby newcomer Burdock, became the toast of Toronto. Combined with its extensive spirits list, Folly did its bit in putting to rest city residents’ long-held cynicism toward brewpubs.
Making a successful beer isn’t all down to the brewers. If you ask Coady and Conway, they’ll say the critical acclaim some of their beers have seen is partially, if not significantly, due to the incredible yeasts put out by Guelph-based Escarpment Labs. Flemish Cap Old World Saison, for instance, made with pilsner malt and malted wheat, is a fantastic lesson in what a good yeast can do to simple ingredients. The beer provides a lovely tart note with slight hints of citrus and grain character. With all of its complexities, it’s hard to believe that it’s the easiest beer for Coady and Conway to make.
A bottle shop was always in the works, and I’m pleased to see that it has finally opened up. Today, the shop will have Folly’s four core brands—Imposter Syndrome Farmhouse IPA, Flemish Cap Old World Saison, Inkhorn Farmhouse Bruin, and Praxis New World Saison—for sale. Additionally, there will be a modest amount of merch like shirts, glasses, and gift cards available.
Also available on Saturday both at the bar and in the bottle shop is the beer made by Coady and more than 20 women for International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. Bechdel Brett, named in honour of famed cartoonist Alison Bechdel, creator of Dykes to Watch Out For and Fun Home (adapted into the Tony-award-winning Broadway show). More apt to the beer, she is the namesake of the Bechdel Test, a standard usually applied to films which requires they contain at least two female characters who talk to each other about something besides a man. Bechdel Brett is made with Calypso and Cascade hops, and all proceeds of the sales will go to Working Women Community Centre.
It hasn’t taken Folly long to be a welcome addition to the Toronto beer scene. Now, with the opening of their bottle shop, it will take even less time to be a welcome addition to my fridge.
Folly Brewpub’s bottles are available beginning at 4 p.m. Friday.