McAuslan Brewing began operations in January of 1989. Located at 4850 St-Ambroise Street in Montreal’s St-Henri district, it has established itself as Quebec’s foremost micro-brewery.
The brewery launched its first beer in February 1989. St-Ambroise Pale Ale was an immediate success. Its distinctive hoppy-ness and clear reddish hue set it apart and gained it an instant following. Shortly after, McAuslan Brewing became the first micro-brewery to offer its product in bottles.
Since that time, McAuslan Brewing has steadily expanded both its brewing capacity and its place in the market. In the ten years since launching St-Ambroise, the brewery has introduced four new beers: St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout in December of 1991; the Griffon brands, Griffon Extra Pale Ale and Griffon Brown Ale in April of 92; and Frontenac – first test-marketed in the Quebec-City area in November 1995 and then launched province-wide in April 1996.
In June 1997, the brewery launched a family of seasonal beers. The four beers are brewed exclusively in season and include: Apricot Wheat Ale, brewed in the spring; Raspberry Ale, available during the summer months; Spiced Pumpkin Ale for the fall; and Strong Ale, for the winter.
In 1998, McAuslan, in conjunction with Verger du Minot, began distributing cider on draft. Mystique Cider in bottles was launched the same year.
McAuslan Brewing is essentially the result of president Peter McAuslan’s belief that he could brew a better beer and that Quebec consumers would provide a loyal following for it. Although he had been brewing his own beer for more than 25 years, it was only during the early ’80s that he began seriously considering going into commercial brewing. In August 1987, he left his position as a senior administrator at Dawson College and dedicated himself to turning his vision into reality.
The next year was spent consolidating funding, acquiring expertise and equipment, as well as gathering a team of people with the skills and temperament to make the venture a success. An English brewmaster was hired to develop the recipe for St-Ambroise and he, along with Ellen Bounsall, a biologist who trained as a brewmaster, set about the important task of establishing the brewery’s reputation for distinctive beers that have since been acknowledged by critics internationally as being among the world’s best. The brewery’s beers have now won over 12 medals in international competition including a platinum medal, a gold, five silvers and one bronze.
Although the staff at McAuslan Brewing has expanded from five to 40 people, the brewery retains its character as a business on a human scale and with a human face. McAuslan Brewing’s commitment to being active in the community has been affirmed as the company has grown. Critical to this has been the company’s support of the arts, community events and charities that are a vital part of the social fabric of the communities in which its products are sold.
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