Inside Junction Craft Brewing’s new, hundred-year-old brewery

Built inside a decommissioned trash incinerator, the facility features a tap room, bottle shop and some cool eco-friendly touches


The new Junction Craft Brewing facility (150 Symes, at Glen Scarlett, 416-766-1616, junctioncraft.com) once went by another name: The Destructor. Pretty sweet, huh?

The 25-hectolitre brewhouse near the Stockyards was built in the early 1930s as a garbage incinerator – though you might not guess that from the handsome, striped-brick exterior. 

“It was built under the R.C. Harris term – he was the commissioner of public works,” explains Junction brewmaster Doug Pengelly. “He wanted to make public works at a really, really high level, so everything was built to a high standard, with art deco features.”

Exploring the various parts of the building, from the taproom to the brewery floor, you might see patches in the exposed brick where smokestacks snaked, or neat diagonal slashes where a stairwell once sat.

“We didn’t want to make it a Pottery Barn, but rather to show how this building was used at different phases of its life,” Pengelly says. 

“You can just sit here with a beer, and you don’t need a television set – you could spend a whole day just looking around, just mesmerized by the whole thing.”

Store at Junction Craft Brewing, Toronto

Natalia Manzocco

Staple and limited-edition brews and merchandise sold at Junction Craft Brewing in Toronto

Of course, there’s plenty of beer to enjoy here while you’re ruminating – 30 taps’ worth, from their classic Conductor’s Craft Ale to fun one-offs like a mango IPA made in conjunction with Caribru.

Flights are available, and the bottle shop stocks a selection of staple and limited-edition brews. Soon they’ll be contract brewing for smaller west-end breweries like Rainhard, adding even more variety. 

Beer at Junction Craft Brewing, Toronto

Natalia Manzocco

Flight of beer to at Junction Craft Brewing in Toronto

And since this is not just a brewery but also a full-scale event space, they’ve made a point of bringing in stuff that appeals to a wider audience: Red, white and bubbly from Tawse, cold brew from Balzac’s (which Junction is actually brewing onsite for the coffee chain), and a kitchen that will host rotating food pop-ups. Currently,When the Pig Came Home is doing breakfast sandwiches and BBQ, and Etobicoke’s Cellar Door pizzeria will likely move in soon to sling some pies.

The new facility marks the first time Pengelly and co. will be brewing on their own turf (previously, their beer was produced at Wellington’s facility in Guelph). They opted for a smaller brewing rig that allows them to make several batches in a day, kitting the space out with some energy-saving, eco-friendly touches.

“Ultimately, we want to be a good neighbour. We want people to support us because we’re doing all the right things,” Pengelly says.

People at Junction Craft Brewing, Toronto

Stefan Randstrom

Visitors at Junction Craft Brewing in Toronto

Side streaming, or setting aside waste for alternate use, was key when designing the facility. Spent grain from the brewing process is sent off to be used as animal feed. Proteins and hop pieces, separated from the unfermented brew (also known as wort) via whirlpool, get added to that animal feed for an extra nutrient boost.

“There are a lot of breweries that, once they get that nice separation, take the hose and send it all down the drain,” Pengelly says. “It’s like – are you frickin’ crazy?”

Junction Craft Brewing, Toronto

Natalia Manzocco

Brewery tanks at Junction Craft Brewing in Toronto

Nitrogen- and protein-rich tank rinsings are put aside to make fertilizer. And vapour from the boiling kettles or water used for heating and cooling are recirculated elsewhere within the facility to warm or cool other things, ensuring none of that precious energy gets wasted.

“Because our brewery is set up to make many brews in one day, you get started with the first one, and by the time you’re into it, you’re using the energy from previous brews to make the next one,” Pengelly says. He estimates they’ve been able to save 50 to 60 per cent of the total energy they would otherwise use.

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Natalia Manzocco

The massive bright tanks, where beer is stored post-fermentation, are perched on a mezzanine floor high above the rest of the brewery — but since that’s where the garbage incinerators used to sit, they’re not worried about the floor giving way. And true to form, the high position even takes advantage of gravity, letting beer flow more freely down to the rest of the brewery.

“We’re trying to use nature to our advantage,” Pengelly says. “It’s been really fun, trying to take a building that was designed for a totally different purpose and give it a new life.”

nataliam@nowtoronto.com | @nataliamanzocco

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