What’s on the menu at Bellwoods Brewpub, the Ossington brewery’s big new expansion next door
Name: Bellwoods Brewpub
Contact: 120 Ossington St., @bellwoodsbrewpub
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Owners: Luke Pestl and Mike Clark
Chef: Jay Browne
Accessibility: There are two universal washrooms, one for each of the main floor seating areas
Let’s start with a bit of background. Bellwoods recently expanded into the storefront next door (previous tenant VdeV moved to a bigger location on Dundas West), adding more than 1,000 square feet of dining area, an eight-seat bar and a spacious kitchen.
Before that, head chef Jay Browne worked with a small crew inside a 125-square-foot kitchen in the back, which shared space with the brewery. It made cooking difficult. Prep times were limited by the brewing schedule, and they had only a small oven, a tiny grill, a deep fryer and a couple of prep tables. “It was like a shoebox,” says Browne, who’s worn the Bellwoods apron for eight years.
Now, the kitchen is 625 square feet, allowing for more staff, more efficient prep and a bigger, badder menu. “We’ve pretty much doubled the number of staff,” says Browne. “Getting the food out is a breeze compared to what it was like before.”
The beer doesn’t really need an introduction. Head brewer John Gallagher works in the back of the brewpub, among the fermenters and finishing tanks, overseeing everything from recipe development to brewing to canning. He pumps out some of the best beer in town.
The current lineup includes:
- Bellweiser: this beer has the taste profile of a classic pilsner—crisp, clean, refreshing, easy to drink. It’s pretty cheap too.
- Wizard Wolf: a hoppy pale ale with a fruity finish (notes of grapefruit, tangerine and melon). And the name is really cool, making it nearly irresistible to order.
- A Stout with Coffee: the name sort of gives it away—a hearty, full-body stout with a caffeine kick. “It’s essentially how you make cold brew coffee, but instead of water, we use beer as the base,” says Gallagher. This beer is the product of an as-local-as-it-comes collab with Sam James, the coffee kingpins across the street.
- Jelly Royale Mango Lassi: imagine Jelly King, a Bellwoods sour staple, mixed with a mouth-watering mango puree. The result is a sour alcoholic smoothie.
- Radler Pink Grapefruit: crisp, tart and fruity, a rather refreshing (and less boozy) alternative to the other beer options.
- An APA: a lighter, hoppier version of an IPA. Notes include fuzzy peach, passionfruit and lemon zest.
The expansion was a long time coming, according to co-owner Luke Pestl. Ever since the brewery opened, in 2012, Pestl has wanted to increase indoor seating and move the kitchen, but the previous landlord next door didn’t want to rent to a licensed business.
“As a brewery, our food program has largely been ignored,” says Pestl. “We were hoping to provide a space where people could sit down and appreciate it a bit more.” Everything changed when Hullmark, a real estate investment company, scooped up 120 Ossington and approached the Bellwoods brass about doing business. Pestl and co-owner Mike Clark were able to negotiate a 10-year lease.
Regulatory approvals and a global pandemic delayed renovations, which began last fall. Then Futurestudio did their thing, and, by July, they were able to seat customers in the improved space. “It’s vaulted and open, reminiscent of the beer halls in Europe,” says Pestl. “We wanted something comfortable but slightly elevated.”