PREAMBLE & PHOTOS BY CHRIS TIESSEN
It’s Tuesday. Middle of May. Just past eleven in the morning. And when my TOQUE Partner Cai and I pull up to the main entrance of Anderson Brewing Co there’s already a long lineup of people waiting in a queue out the front door. ‘This place is absolutely hopping,’ I remark to Cai as we join the back of the line, ‘there must be something big going on.’ A middle-aged man decked out in a business suit and a couple spots ahead of us
in line is quick to reply: ‘It’s Hundred Pack Day.’ Before I can ask what this means, an Anderson employee emerges from the brewery’s front door, massive box perched on his shoulder and happy customer in tow. On the side of the box I read the succinct answer to my question: ‘Hundred Pack.’
Certain that this bit of theatre will make for a great photo, I pull out my camera. ‘Just make sure you don’t get me in the shot,’ our man in the suit says with a chuckle, ‘my wife thinks I’m at work.’ I flash a grin, re-compose my Nikon (guilty culprit out of frame), and snap away. What a fitting beginning to our tour of London’s Old East Village ‘Libation District’ – a Forest City ‘hood sprinkled with an array of craft breweries, distilleries, roasteries, and even an organic grocer that makes London-based drinks.
This motley neighbourhood certainly does not disappoint.
Before long, Cai and I make it inside the brewery and snag a table near the bar. No hundred packs for us. It’ll be pints for this adventure. When I begin with an Anderson IPA, the first sip takes me back to when my oldest kid was competing next door at London’s Junction Climbing Gym. (Back in the day, we climber parents snuck into Anderson now and then, for a quick and tasty reprieve.) When I look around the place now I am struck by just how archetypal this craft brewery is. Anderson’s warehouse – with retractable garage door, chalkboard menus, and barnboard accents – elicits a certain comfortable, familiar feeling. With its strings of Edison bulbs and loft seating overlooking the busy brewhouse, it hits all the right notes for craft enthusiasts like Cai and me – and it’s the perfect jump-off for our adventure.
And what an adventure it turns out to be. There is Anderson, of course – to set the mood. And Powerhouse Brewing Co – an industrial-themed brewery whose ‘Hip Things’ IPA and smash burger are the perfect pair. We stop by Asmara Coffee for americanos featuring house-roasted beans; and then visit Paradign Spirits, whose cocktails are made with such lovely ingredients as beeswaxed gin, chamomile honey syrup, and pollen. We also hit up London Brewing, which features the hippest vibes and an ‘Organic Local 117’ amber ale whose ingredients are all grown within a stone’s throw of London. Then, also, The Root Cellar – a ‘farm-to-fork, plough-to-pint’ joint. There’s Dundas and Sons Brewing Co – a raucous brewery and live music space whose owner Rob embodies the OEV spirit. And finally, to lay our heads, The Woodfield Hotel – featuring large modern suites with a minimalist vibe, beautifully situated close to all of our ‘Libation District’ destinations.
Now come along with us on a photo essay of our adventure. And then go visit oldeastvillage.com to set up your own exploration of this colourful ‘hood. Bottoms up.
11:12AM – ANDERSON BREWING (1030 ELIAS ST, LONDON)
At our first stop in the OEV Libation District we found Anderson Craft Ales owner Gavin Anderson shouldering ‘Hundred Pack’ boxes of beer, transporting them to happy patrons’ vehicles. The boxes, each containing a customer’s choice of one hundred Anderson brews for two hundred bucks, festooned the line-up emerging from the front door. We opted for pints of Anderson IPA – featuring a complex bouquet of citrus, melon, stone fruit & floral notes supported by a subtle malt backbone.
Pro tip: enjoy a pint on the Anderson loft and watch the brewers at work.
11:42AM – ASMARA COFFEE HOUSE (700 YORK ST, LONDON)
For our second stop in the District, we grabbed ‘between-beer’ americanos at Asmara Coffee House – the only Eritrean coffee shop in London. (Asmara recently opened a second location downtown.) Roasted in-house and delectable, Asmara beans make this joint a must-visit OEV destination.
Pro tip: ask for ginger in your coffee – it’s flavourful, brewed the traditional Eritrean way.
12:12PM – POWERHOUSE BREWING (100 KELLOGG LN, LONDON)
At Powerhouse Brewing Co – our third stop in the District – we grabbed a pint, Shirley Temple, and smash burgers for lunch. The brewery is a staple on the 100 Kellogg block and is a regular participant in largescale Kellogg events – including the Merry Market, the Spring Market, and the inaugural Beer Fest (to be hosted by Powerhouse and held on brewery grounds).
Pro tip: if you’re not up for the boozy stuff, Powerhouse makes a mean hop water.
2:02PM – LONDON BREWING (521 BURBROOK PLACE,LONDON)
Every tour of Old East Village’s Libation District must include a stop at London Brewing – a co-op brewery that’s a hotbed of live music, game nights, community events, and more. The brewery’s tucked-away location makes it feel like a cozy home away from home, and its laid-back vibe makes you never want to leave.
Pro tip: if you’re hungry, the brewery’s warehouse neighbour, On The Move Organics, provides on-site local food offerings.
5:12PM – PARADIGM SPIRITS CO. (100 KELLOGG LN, LONDON)
This high-end craft distillery and event space, located next to Powerhouse Brewing Co on the 100 Kellogg block, is one of two distilleries in OEV. Featuring state-of-the-art, beautifully-appointed digs, Paradigm produces traditional gin, vodka, and whisky with seasonal flavours, and even some canned creations. And it offers tours and tastings too. When we stopped in, mixologist Melissa crafted us a signature cocktail featuring beeswaxed gin, chamomile honey syrup, bee pollen & more.
Pro tip: be sure to take a peek at Paradigm’s distilling operations – the shiny set-up is a sight worth seeing.
6:47PM – DUNDAS AND SONS (400 ADELAIDE ST N, LONDON)
Our sixth stop in the Libation District was at Dundas and Sons – an OEV nano-brewery run by charismatic owner/brewer Rob Dundas. This local serves as a community hub of sorts – featuring live music & comedy, karaoke, and more. When we arrived, the bar was filled with regulars – including one sporting a Dundas and Sons tattoo. The love is real. Our fave brew on tap: Rob’s ‘British Golden Ale’ dressed up like a West Coast IPA.
Pro tip: Rob’s ginger ale is a fantastic non-alcoholic option for folks looking to take it easy.
8:30PM – ROOT CELLAR
(623 DUNDAS ST, LONDON)
Our last stop of the night was at The Root Cellar, a favourite London hangout that, until the pandemic, offered a farm-to-fork, plough-to-pint experience with a fully-organic, locally-sourced menu. The restaurant remains closed, but The Root Cellar has launched a new live music concert series at its upstairs venue, Taproot. Stay tuned for more music and events announcements in 2023.
Pro tip: you can still experience The Root Cellar Menu, of sorts, through other OEV endeavours – On the Move Organics and On the Move Eats available at London Brewing.
10:11PM – THE WOODFIELD HOTEL
(364 DUNDAS ST, LONDON)
After such a busy day in the Libation District, it was so restful to come ‘home’ and unwind at The Woodfield – a completely-renovated, ideally-located downtown accommodation that offers large, modern-designed ‘industrial-esque’ boutique rooms, king-size beds, and easy underground parking.
Pro tip: don’t forget to shower – every bathroom features rainfall showerheads that’ll bring a smile to your (drenched) face.