New Brewery Report: Willibald Farm Brewery in Ayr

Waterloo region has a new brewery with a brewmaster, Joe Freund, who brings the experience gained from stints at top-notch breweries like Monkish, Jolly Pumpkin and Beavertown.

The name of the operation, Willibald Farm, will be familiar to fans of Ontario craft spirits. Cam Formica and two friends, brothers Jordan and Nolan van der Heyden, started it a few years ago on the brothers’ family farm outside of Kitchener. It has since grown into a cult favourite for its oak-barrel-aged gin.

After a short period of brewing and on-site sales, the brewery had its first can release this week. The beer list (both cans and growlers) was:

  • Party House Special IPA (7.2% ABV)
  • On My Way IPA (6.5% ABV)
  • With Me double IPA (8.2% ABV)
  • Three Hands double IPA (8.3% ABV)
  • Brick Tour coconut stout (4.5% ABV)

Why the tight focus out of the gate? “We started with the three big IPAs just because of the hop order we got first,” Formica says.

But he tells me that the IPAs and stout will be joined by a lager soon and then plenty of mixed-fermentation creations in the new year. “We have lots of casks,” he says, “that get turned over from the spirits side of the business.”

Freund’s diverse experience (from Monkish to Jolly Pumpkin) will mean a wide-ranging roster of styles coming out of the 10 hectolitre system at Willibald.

Willibald has no plans for an LCBO release but plans to focus on selling through their on-farm shop and getting on the lists at better beer bars. As well as listings in Guelph and Hamilton, they’re also in Toronto at the new Volo and the Queen East outpost of Boxcar Social.

In terms of package format, they have their sights set on both tall and short cans, for now, with growler fills available to those who visit the brewery.

If you can visit, do so. “We’ve built a destination and we want people to come out and experience it,” Formica says.

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