Check out Spearhead Brewing Company’s Success Story
From the brewing vessels to the bottling line, Spearhead beer is truly crafted in Kingston.
The award-winning brewery faced a tough decision several years ago, says Spearhead Enterprises president and CEO Martin Villeneuve.
Spearhead Brewing Co. was founded in 2011 in Toronto, with its beer brewed under contract by other breweries.
But after about five years, the business partners faced a decision: shut the brewery or throw themselves into it full time and open a bricks and mortar operation to boost capacity.
The economics in Toronto simply didn’t add up, says Villeneuve. “The risk to capital was just too great but an investor from Kingston suggested his town. He rallied the investment community, found a location and engaged the community.”
That investor was Richard Ward, president of Pure Ingenuity Inc., a Kingston engineering and fabrication company, which custom designed and built the brewery. He also owns Spearhead’s new home.
Spearhead took over a former air- brake factory in May 2017, fully gutted and renovated 16,000 square feet and opened its brewery in April 2018.
“It was really perfect timing for us because this great location became available,” said Villeneuve, who quit his job as a Bay Street banker, sold his house and moved his family to Kingston. “This kept the dream alive. Kingston offered us a way to make this project viable.”
Spearhead employs more than 20 people and plans to grow. Villeneuve says the support of local officials and the community has made everything easy.
“People were genuinely interested in our success. Coming here gave us a second chance,” he said. “If you come here with the outlook that you will become part of the community and support it, people will rally behind you.”
At full capacity in its current footprint, Spearhead can produce about a million litres of beer a year in its best-in-class, $5-million custom brewery. It features a 35-hectolitre, four-vessel system, a tasting taproom and retail space.
“Many microbreweries opening now have equipment built abroad like in the US or China but ours has been built and designed locally. Our builders are our neighbours.We are a showcase for the work of Pure Ingenuity.”
And Spearhead wanted a showpiece brewery that featured cutting-edge brewing and sanitation equipment, state-of-the-art energy efficiency and advanced packaging equipment to preserve freshness and extend shelf life.
Spearhead brews feature unusual ingredients and have won many awards under the direction of veteran brew master Tomas Schmidt. Its most popular beer is a pineapple-based Hawaiian Style Pale Ale. Its Moroccan Brown Ale is made with dates, figs, raisins and cinnamon. Its Sam Roberts Band Ale is a blend of English and American ales. Villeneuve underestimated what a shift in lifestyle moving to Kingston would bring.
After years of battling congestion in Toronto, Villeneuve has more time at home with his kids and more leisure time to enjoy all the recreation Kingston has to offer.
“I found more balance and less chaos in my life.” From a business perspective, the city provides terrific access to major markets in Canada and the U.S., first-class post-secondary institutions, and the affordability and quality of life young people are looking for, says Villeneuve.
“Everyone knows everybody here and there is an environment of collaboration. People are proud of Kingston.”
Pure Ingenuity Inc. had never built brewery equipment before working for three years to bring Kingston’s new craft beer maker to life, says company president Richard Ward.
The 47-year-old Kingston design and engineering firm specializes in the manufacture of sanitary process equipment for the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries.
The beer industry is an exciting new segment for Pure Ingenuity, says Ward.
“We’re already pricing other brewery projects. Definitely Spearhead is a showcase for us.We designed and built it from the ground up.”
Pure Ingenuity Inc. employs 25 people who engineer and manufacture equipment for companies across North America, but Ward said it was special to work on a project in their own backyard. Spearhead is located right next door to the Pure Ingenuity shop.
Ward says Kingston is a great location for the company because it is at the heart of a growing food cluster while offering great education and amenities for staff and their families.
“There are a lot of cultural and lifestyle attractions for a town of 130,000 people,” said Ward, who came to Kingston to study engineering at Queen’s and then met his wife, a native of the Limestone City. “I feel lucky to live here.”
If you are looking to start-up or relocate a craft brewery please connect with Kingston Economic Development. Time to start your new business life…click here.