International Insights: Jeff Dornan, All or Nothing Brewhouse — Ontario, Canada

International Insights is a continuing series of Q&As with brewing members, but this time branching outside of the US and into the rest of the world.
In this series, Brewer will share personal insights from international breweries each week about the craft beer market in other countries, where those brewers get their inspiration, and how the market compares to craft beer in the US.

Jeff Dornan, owner & co-founder, All or Nothing Brewhouse — Ontario, Canada

BREWER: What can you tell me about the history of All or Nothing and the most popular beers at your brewery?
DORNAN: All or Nothing Brewhouse started out in 2014 as a contract brewery based in Oshawa, Ontario (just east of Toronto). Our company has grown through organic sales growth and acquisition over the last seven years. Our company purchased a bricks and mortar brewery & distillery on the west end of Toronto in 2016 as a means of getting a physical production facility to move beyond our contract brewing phase. The brewery continued to operate out of the acquired space for about three years until we outgrew the space and moved the business back across the city in 2018 to Oshawa where it was founded. The company purchased an abandoned former Beer Store in Oshawa in 2018 that had been selling thousands upon thousands of cases of beer a year since the 1950s when it was built. We moved the brewery (all 16 transport trucks worth) across the city and reinstalled all of the equipment into our newly renovated 25,000 sq/ft space where we currently reside. Our brewery’s most popular and recognizable beer would be our Hustle Over Hype Pale Wheat Ale. We have been brewing this beer non stop since we started seven years ago, and it is a unique blend between a German Wheat Beer and a West Coast Pale Ale.

BREWER: What are the popular styles in Ontario? How does that compare to the rest of Canada?
DORNAN: Ontario over the past few years has seen an explosion of Hazy IPAs (NEIPA, BRUT, etc.) of all variants and beers with all varieties of fruit being added. We have seen very strong sales for many releases of New England IPAs and Fruited Sours. I would say the trends have been very similar right across Canada. What makes Canada interesting for beer is due to its large geographic distance it can be very hard getting beers from different parts of the country in your local liquor store so it’s hard to try all of the new trends that are being released in different parts of the country. Canadians, if they are looking to drink craft beer, typically drink beer that has been produced within their own province due to the extreme distance between provinces that makes distribution hard. 

BREWER: Where do you/does the brewery get inspiration for new beers?
DORNAN: Our brewery gets inspiration for new beers from two sources. A) We watch the trends taking place in the United States as they have historically led on innovation for new beers. B) We try to also bring our own local twist to new beers. We have done this through our own partnerships with local food producers to receive and use ingredients they have grown locally/seasonally. This has led to beers such as our sweet potato Stouts or a Kolsch with papaya and pineapple sage added.

BREWER: How has COVID-19 affected your country and your brewery? What restrictions have been put in place by the government, and how are you adapting?
DORNAN: Handling the pandemic has been tough in Canada. Restrictions have varied based on the severity of the outbreak in each province and each municipality so some areas have seen complete closures at times versus some more remote areas where population density is less with fewer infections has been more lenient and stayed open with fewer restrictions. Where we are located — just outside of Toronto — we were forced by the government to close our taproom and patio since March but were allowed to continue to sell through our on-site retail store for product to-go. Restaurants were in a similar situation as breweries and were all forced to close at the start of the pandemic. Restaurants were only allowed to sell take-out food. This hurt many breweries sales as they were heavily reliant on draught beer sales to restaurants that could no longer take place. The Government has taken action in many parts of the country and have temporarily updated laws to now allow for alcohol to be sold with take-out meals which has helped keep the restaurant industry partially afloat along with breweries. Over the past four weeks our food service industries in Ontario (breweries, restaurants, etc.) have slowly been allowed to open patios where space is available. We have had to adapt in a few ways during COVID. We have had to change the layout of our retail store to allow for social distancing and also for contactless curbside pick up. One of our other big pivots was converting our distillery business to be strictly producing Ethanol to be used in hand sanitizer. We have produced tens of thousands units of hand sanitizer that have been distributed across Ontario to frontline and essential workers to help keep them safe during COVID. We will be continuing to produce the hand sanitizer as long as there is a need for it so we can help do our part to help flatten the curve of infection.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *