Get to Know the Shakespeare Brewing Company in Stratford, Ontario
Shakespeare Brewing Co. serves a small beer community in the Stratford area of Ontario, following a Shakespeare theme! Get to the brewery and why breweries in smaller communities is so important.
By Emma Zhao on Aug. 19, 2022
Metro cities typically boast a large pool of selections in regards to breweries, but what does the brewing industry look like in smaller cities?
With a population of around 2.6 million as of 2021, there are more than 100 breweries in the Greater Vancouver area. This makes Vancouver as one of the hotspots of the brewing industry.
Toronto itself hosts more than 70 breweries in the metropolitan area alone, and is included as a powerhouse for the brewing industry in Canada.
Among these vibrant and populated brewing communities, the Shakespeare Brewing Company is making a name for itself in Stratford ON, a smaller Canadian city, among thousands of other small-city breweries.
About Shakespeare Brewing Co.
The idea for Shakespeare Brewing Co. came about in 2014, after Katie and Ayden Gautreau, a husband and wife duo, had completed a nine month trip in Europe. They found inspiration while working on a farm in the quintessential English countryside, which had its own brewery to supply a pub they had just over the hill.
“While we were there their, the brewer hurt his back and was unable to brew, so they asked Ayden to be his arms and legs and in the process Ayden learned how to brew,” said Katie Gautreau. “When we came back home to Ontario, Ayden, a trained mechanical engineer, decided to put together a resume to brew.”
He would gain some brewing experience working as a brewer at Bell City Brewing Company in Brantford, where he worked for about 2.5 years. After Bell City Brewing Company purchased new brewing equipment, Katie and Ayden Gautreau came into possession of the brewery’s old equipment, which allowed them to open Shakespeare Brewing Company in July of 2017.
Located in the village of Shakespeare, Ontario, the brewery serves Stratford’s 33,000 people, including populations from surrounding areas.
“Now the rest is history,” she said.
How does Shakespeare Brewing Co. create new beers?
From references to animals and feather-adorned hats, each beer produced by Shakespeare Brewing Co. has a specific character.
According to Katie Gautreau, they typically start with the style of beer when creating new flavors. From there, the malt base for color is decided, alcohol percentage, and flavors such as roasted notes or wheat. Hops is then added, depending on the type of beer. Smaller details are added last.
“For instance, for our dandelion, we add those to the boil,” said Gautreau, in regards to their unique Dandelion Pale Ale. “But for a fruited beer like our blueberry wheat, we add those in the fermenter.”
“When we were first opening our brewery in Shakespeare, people thought we may go really heavy on the Shakespeare theme,” she said. “We decided that wasn’t really us and we didn’t know enough about Shakespeare, so we put a spin on it.”
The brewery cleverly enhances their own style with that of the Shakespearean style. Their website is littered with various Shakespeare quotes related to beer and drinking, and even their beer aesthetic has taken on a somewhat Shakespearean look.
“We know this area is very big on farming,” said Gautreau. “So we took animals, primarily farm animals, and put them in Elizabethan clothing to mix the two together.”
What to try at Shakespeare Brewing Co.
Katie Gautreau is particularly fond of the seasonal beers that Shakespeare Brewing Co. produces. The affirmation Dandelion Pale Ale made with real dandelions is an interesting and unique beer to try.
“In the fall we make a delicious Pumpkin Brown Ale with local pumpkins that we roast with brown sugar before adding to the beer,” she said. “We also like to do fun summer beers like the cocktail beer series we have currently that consists of a Pina Colada Pale Ale, Mojito Pale Ale, Hawaiian Punch Ale and Long Island Iced Tea beer.”
The Importance of Breweries in Small Cities
Breweries are important lifelines for communities. Not only do they serve creative and innovative beers, they also serve local community hubs. But something that people fail to realize, is that breweries, especially breweries in less populated areas, come to play a vital role in the community’s industry.
According to the Brewer’s Association in America $55.7 billion was contributed to the U.S. economy by the brewing industry alone. About 80 per cent of American live within a 10 mile radius to a brewery.
In fact, a separate study conducted by the Brewer’s Association is that brewers per capita increase the lower the population is. While it’s expected that larger metropolitan areas will have more breweries, urban clusters actually have the most breweries per person.
Although there is no exact reason why, experts at the Brewer’s Association believe this is due to lower competition and thus, lower costs.
The importance of breweries, not just in metropolitan areas, cannot be forgotten. These breweries provide jobs for their local community members, a creative outlet for beermakers and designers, as well as a welcoming and affordable environment for people to socialize.
What makes Shakespeare Brewing Co. special?
“We are a very family friendly brewery,” said Gautreau. Families and children are often welcome to spend some quality time at the brewery. “We have a little playhouse on our patio and we are happy to be a place for parents to enjoy a good fresh beer while their kids can play.”
They also strive to always have the freshest beer possible. The brewery is small, and it serves a smaller community, so their great stock rotation means that all of their beer is freshly brewed.
The Legacy of Shakespeare Brewing Co.
Shakespeare Brewing Co. is only one of the many talented and innovative breweries located in a smaller Canadian community. Having survived incredibly hardships like the pandemic, the brewery still upholds its community-friendly and creative drive.
“I would like to be remembered as the little family brewery that could,” said Katie Gautreau. “That pushed through the pandemic and continued to try to support the community through donations and events.”
For more information on Shakespeare Brewing Co., check out their website here.
To find a local brewery near you, check out JustBeer’s brewery guide.
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