Drink

Brewing Magic in London: Anderson Craft Ales

Wayne Newton
Written by Wayne Newton

What happens when a new brewery moves into an old neighbourhood?

Magic.

Anderson Craft Ales, which brewed its first batch last summer, has already become another good reason to explore London’s Old East Village.

Brewmaster Gavin Anderson behind the bar, the focus of Anderson Craft Ale’s retail operation.

Brewmaster Gavin Anderson behind the bar, the focus of Anderson Craft Ale’s retail operation.

Located in a former industrial building on Elias Street, Anderson was started with two beer recipes and the goal of helping to make the neighbourhood a hip destination.“We would love to help shape tourism in London by encouraging people to spend time in the OEV,” said Aynsley Anderson, who handles special events and social media. “There are already great places to eat, grab coffee and shop. We can help round that out, with the city’s help, to create an environment with character and connectivity that people want to hang out in.”

Aynsley’s brother, Gavin, is the brewmaster. His brewing journey started more than a decade ago when he was a 19-year-old home brewer, and included stops at craft breweries in Kentucky and the Maritimes. He has a PhD in microbiology, meaning he’s well equipped to understand the science of brewing. Dad Jim is a director of the company, and has been known to pitch in with any task from bartending to, as Aynsley says, “ideas man.”

The first two beers to be launched were Anderson IPA and Anderson Amber. Brewing an India Pale Ale is de rigueur in the craft beer world, but Anderson choose to go a less-hoppy, more accessible route for its recipe, compared with many other craft brewers. Recommended pairings include big, bold spicy foods like fajitas. Anderson Amber, with its notes of caramel and toffee, has broad appeal as a beer to pair with anything from seafood to pizza or grilled cheese.

Grab a sample or a pint and stay awhile, or purchase growlers and cans to go.

Grab a sample or a pint and stay awhile, or purchase growlers and cans to go.

Having tips on which beer to pair with what food comes in handy on Friday nights, when Anderson hosts food trucks at the brewery, featuring COCOVille Caribbean and a different guest truck each week.

Anderson has organized the Beer Run Club on Wednesdays, and other special events have included fundraiser and awareness nights for causes as diverse as men’s health and Paws United Dog Rescue.

“We love having different activities because we love the social aspect of drinking and appreciating craft beer,” Aynsley said. “Drinking beer doesn’t have to be done in a dark bar by yourself. It is important to us to maintain a family-friendly environment, and encourage people to come and meet friends, family or work colleagues in a setting where they can have a beer, but also just relax and socialize.”

Anderson quickly added to its roster of beers. While the core brand IPA and amber are always available at the brewery store, there is also a constant rotation of seasonals. On the board last fall were a brown, a cream ale, a winter ale, and a Stout Cask Series of four different stouts released on four consecutive Saturdays. In 2017, more seasonal brews are coming as well as cask series releases.

Enjoy a game or conversation upstairs in a communal space that overlooks the brewing operation.

Enjoy a game or conversation upstairs in a communal space that overlooks the brewing operation.

The neighbourhood may soon be known as London’s Beer District, now that London Brewing Co-operative has opened just a two-minute walk from Anderson in another part of the former industrial cluster of buildings. Having LBC as a neighbour along with places such as the Junction Climbing Centre adds to the cool factor, Gavin and Aynsley said.

“Just because it’s a light industrial area doesn’t mean we can’t be pedestrian-friendly and encourage foot traffic between us, the businesses on Dundas, Boyle Community Park and LBC,” Aynsley said. “We’re seeing it happen organically. Many of our customers arrive on foot or bike. Many will also seek us out to spend the day — climbing next door at Junction, then having a couple of beers, then heading to True Taco for dinner, for example.”

Anderson beers can be enjoyed at an on-site bar, where take-home growlers can also be filled. Cans are 355 mL.

Anderson Craft Ales
1030 Elias St., London
andersoncraftales.ca

Flagship Beers
Anderson IPA
Anderson Amber

Available in cans at the brewery store and in cans or on tap at various pubs from Windsor to Guelph.

About the author

Wayne Newton

Wayne Newton

Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist in London who enjoys writing about beer and travel.