Meet Aaron Lawrence, founder and part owner of London Brewing Co-operative in London, Ontario’s Old East Village (OEV) at 521 Burbrook Place. This is the first worker-owned co-operative brewery in Ontario, meaning that every employee has an opportunity to be a part owner. Aaron and his team put a significant focus on owning an ethical operation that gives back to the community, all while producing a wide range of refreshing and delicious beer. The new headquarters (as of late 2016) offers twelve beers on draft, bottles to go, a retail space and an overall relaxing atmosphere complete with pinball machines. This is a must-visit destination for beer connoisseurs and amateurs alike!
At the brewery, there is an impressive range of beer available to buy: from year-round options and seasonal brews to special releases. Try the Neighbourhood Tart for a refreshing and crisp rhubarb-flavoured beer – made with rhubarb grown right in the OEV! Looking for a more hop-forward flavour? Sample the Fresh-Hopped American Brown, brewed with hops grown in Kitchener by their very own worker-owner, Marcus. The local focus takes the sense of community to the next level as it is, “not just local folks working making a locally made beer, it’s using local ingredients.” This brewery was the first to manufacture commercially available “plough to pint” brews with organic ingredients, making it traceable back to the farmer. The use of organic ingredients is a challenge to competitors, as it produces superior flavour and quality in every sip.In addition to producing local and organic goods, the ownership model of this brewery is what differentiates them from the rest. What exactly is a business co-operative? In Canada, co-operative companies encompass a sense of community while complying with earth-friendly practices. All co-operatives are owned by the worker-owners rather than external shareholders. The team at London Brewing Co-Op are passionate about owning a company that produces excellent craft beer while ensuring earth-friendly practices.The space does not just produce beer; they also host events such as paint nights and themed parties! It has been work-in-progress for Aaron and his partners. From brewing on a stove-top, expanding to a garage and then partnering up with The Root Cellar; it is safe to say they truly started at the bottom and built their way up. The continued support from the community is an ode to the quality of beer they are churning out. From a unique ownership model providing employment opportunities to Londoners, to sourcing local and organic ingredients, this brewery should no doubt be added to your list of places to visit! Do not forget your quarters and stop by for a flight of beer and classic game of pinball.