Silversmith Brewing Company is being “born again” next weekend, with a three-day celebration designed to “bring the lustre back,” and to repay the community for its patience and support.
Vice-president and director of operations Kate Brzozowski says the past couple of years at the popular local craft brewery have been somewhat challenging. The weekend celebration is a chance to re-brand, re-invigorate, and look to the future.
That future will be laid out to some degree next weekend, as Brzozowski says the new plans for construction, which began in October, 2017 and was suspended indefinitely a year ago, will be announced.
Last October, problems with the foundation on Silversmith’s 11,000 square foot expansion caused grief for investors and put a halt to plans for new retail and office space out back. Brzozowski is quick to point out that the project wasn’t shut down by an inspector, but by Silversmith management itself.
“It had just gotten out of control. The material that they (the construction company) used never set properly, and was not meant for this kind of project.”
The delay caused financial difficulties for Silversmith, as that open hole out back became a bit of a money “sink-hole” of sorts.
Original founder Chris Pontsioen stepped away in July (co-founder Matt Swan left in 2016), and Brzozowski says new CEO, Kyle Getty, is determined to get things back on track.
To that end, a new architect/engineer has been brought in to redesign the expansion. Mantecon Partners, out of Dundas, has experience in working with brewing facilities, having completed the $7-million Nickel Brook and Collective Arts Brewery project in the Hamilton Harbour.
The new Silversmith design will see the expansion housing all production facilities, as well as some much-needed office space. That means the current production area will be converted into an added entertainment space, perfect for concerts, special events and private parties. Plans are for that space to maintain a bit of its industrial feel, but without the brewing vats currently visible from Niagara Stone Road.
Through it all, Brzozowski promises the integrity of the old church building, the centrepiece and main attraction of the Silversmith experience, will remain intact.
As they get ready to restart construction some time this winter, Brzozowski says Silversmith has a lot of goodwill to rebuild with the Virgil community.
“I think it’s time. We can’t leave that eyesore, it’s not respectful of the community. Next door, at Niagara Motors, they’ve been putting up with us and this mess. We’ve had to change our locations for off-loading and loading onto that side of the building, and it’s inconvenienced our neighbours. We value that they’ve put up with us so long.”
Of course, with the redesign, there may be new hoops for Silversmith to jump through.
“The drawings aren’t completely finalized,” says Brzozowski. “The town has been completely supportive all along, but we will have to go through the approval process all over again with them. We don’t know if any of our original approvals will still stand, and we hope that we get the town’s support and understanding.”
Having learned from the past, Silversmith is not planning to rush the project. A starting date hasn’t been chosen, but they hope the work is done by the end of 2020.
Silversmith began production in 2011, with its first beers brewed off-site. The current production facility, next to the church, opened in 2013. At that time, Silversmith was one of 43 craft breweries in the province.
Over time, the landscape has changed, with now more than 300 such breweries in Ontario. And Silversmith’s business has evolved, as they now regularly welcome more than 10 tour companies who bring groups of visitors to their space.
Brzozowski says at least 50 per cent of the 250,000 litres they sell per year is on-site. The rest of their revenue comes from their contracts with restaurants and pubs, as well as space on LCBO and grocery store shelves.
The evolution continues this year, as they have just received approval to begin selling their black lager in cans on those LCBO shelves.
The celebration next weekend will kick off Friday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m., with entertainment by DJ Dave Stiles. Saturday afternoon they welcome live music from the Feverish Lemons, out of Bradford, Ontario. And Sunday, the party continues from noon until 4 p.m.
Each of the three days, Silversmith will be launching a new brew, and holding giveaways for its loyal customers. They will also be serving a new fall menu and offering new, rebranded merchandise.
“It’s an opportunity for us to say we’re not going anywhere, folks, and thanks for sticking by us,” says Brzozowski.