It's that time. The new edition of The Session is here. This month A Tale of the Ale asks us to consider the history of a local brewery. Then, in true craft beer style, defined local to include distant: "within about 8 hours' drive from where you live." That places me in a circle from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Riviere Du Loup, Quebec on the east-ish to west-ish as well as from Philadelphia Pennsylvania to just about the southern tip of Hudson Bay on the up and the down. Local... hmm... Fortunately for you, Jordan and I have a book coming out in the couple of weeks on the history of Ontario Beer in which you will find the brief history of the Peller brewery of Hamilton, Ontario just after World War 2:
In December 1945, something happened in Ontario that had not occurred for over 30 years. A new brewery opened. The Peller Brewing Company in Hamilton. It was founded by Andrew Peller, a former brewer with the Cosgrove brewery who was backed by Hamilton businessmen. Although it operated independently for only eight years, the brewery he built shows up a few more times in the province's brewing history. Peller went on to open a daily newspaper in Hamilton that soon failed but moved on to create one of Canada's first large scale wineries, makers of Baby Duck and Peller Estates brands. In brewing, he is best remembered for getting around the restriction on advertising by opening an ice company and plastering the brewery's trucks and ads "Don’t Forget The Peller’s Ice" with the emphasis on the Peller.
OK, that's a short history. Granted. But it's a book chock full of stuff and, frankly, the real pop culture thing Peller did was produce Baby Duck. Apparently, at one point in the 1970s one-quarter of the wine sold in the LCBO, the provincial system, was that one product. But the brewery did good while it lasted, the building lived on to spawn the buck a beer movement and, I suspect, it served as the model for the evil regional macro brewery, Elsinore, in the early 1980s movie, Strange Brew featuring Doug and Bob MacKenzie - reflecting the time when the brewery was part of a cross Atlantic operation named Henninger. And that, I would suggest, is reason enough to remember the place.