Whatever happened to Niagara Falls Brewing Company on Lundy’s Lane?


Published January 6, 2022 at 2:11 pm

It all started with a photograph posted recently on Twitter. A friend’s wife had brought home four branded beer pint glasses, likely bought at a Goodwill-type outlet.

The friend, Greg, said he suspected the glasses might be “classics.” The branding was Niagara Falls Brewing Co and because Niagara is now my turf to roam, I started to investigate. The name definitely rang a bell but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why.

The glasses that kicked this whole story off. My friend, Greg, got four
Niagara Falls Brewing Co glasses from his wife. Without knowing
anything about the brewery, he suspected the glasses were ‘classics.’

But any Google mention of Niagara Falls Brewing Co instantly reverts to Niagara Brewing, which, of course, is a popular Clifton Hill establishment, heavily frequented by tourists these days. This was an entirely different establishment. Several pages into Google, I found a few clues. One was a piece written by Cass Enright, a well-known Toronto beer figure who established The Bar Towel, the company that organizes the Ontario Brewing Awards every year.

Enright did have some memories of the old, long-gone brewery that was located at 6863 Lundy’s Lane but also confessed he popped into the place when he was a university student so the memories were a touch faded.

“I loved them back in the day. When Wally left they started to change from the old ones that I was enamoured with back in the day. Not really sure about them in recent years, I kind of lost track of them,” Enright confessed. Wally would be Wally Moroz, the brewer Enright remembers creating their signature Eisbock and Kriek style. Enright wrote at length about their Maple Wheat beer, certainly a first of its kind in Ontario.

Enright laid out the reason there’s so little information about the the brewery, which existed from 1988 to 2004. “They pre-date today’s web so there wouldn’t be much about them online from the old days.” But he remembers this much. “They were so ahead of their time in Ontario.”

One day we’ll drive by to see if the building at 6863 Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls still exists
but from 1998 to 2004, it housed the Niagara Falls Brewing Company.

After Enright, we went to well-known Ontario beer (and other beverages) historian Gary Gillman who remembered the brewery quite well, as well as the storied tale behind it.

“Back in 1988, the beer circle in Toronto was still quite small,” Gillman remembered. One day, he and famed British beer author Michael Jackson, who passed in 2007, drove out to the brewery so that Jackson could pose for a photo beside Niagara Falls holding the brewery’s renowned Eisbock. (The Eisbock was dropped in temperature to freezing in the brewing process. Ice chips from the water were then siphoned off and because alcohol needs a far lower temperature to freeze, the potency of the beer increased.)

But Gillman remembers brothers Bruno and Mario Criveller started the brewery in 1988 after coming to Canada. Their father, Luigi, had made a name for himself creating a brewery in Ethiopia and the family was invested in beer and wine equipment businesses.

Gillman laughed that there was also a chocolate making component to the business and that both he and Jackson bought some chocolate on their way out the door. But as far as the brewery was concerned, “they made about 15 or 16 beers but were best known for three or four.” (RateBeer has the brewery listed making 18 beers in total but certainly some were one-offs.)

Notable Toronto beer figure Cass Enright, left, and renowned beer historian Gary Gillman,
right, both had fond memories of the long-gone Niagara Falls Brewing Co.

“The beers they were best known for would have been the Maple Wheat, the Eisbock, Gritstone Ale, Old Jack Strong Ale and Brock St Stout,” Gillman recalled. And with that revelation, the curtain opened on my memory.

Having worked part-time at a Mississauga Beer Store from 1991 to 2000, I remembered we stocked the brewery’s Gritstone Premium Ale and Millstone Lager at some point during that decade. I still remember the packaging for the six packs and that coupled with Upper Canada Brewing, they were all alone in that cooler for craft beers at the time.

“That Eisbock was a flag-waver for uniqueness in its time,” said Gillman. “It had this peachy, fruity taste.”

When the brewery was bought by Moosehead in 2004, the Lundy’s Lane operation shut down, its components shifted north to Brampton to become the large independent’s Hop City wing. “Kevin Gray, the brewer I remember, moved up to Hop City and is still there,” said Gillman. (UPDATE: Troy Burtch, the head of sales/social media at Etobicoke’s Great Lakes Brewery, tells me Gray is now the brewmaster at Blackburn Brew House in Niagara Falls.)

So Greg, the recipient of those Niagara Falls Brewing Co glasses, was bang-on. Those pint glasses are ‘classic.’ Just as the long-gone brewery remains an Ontario classic to those who remember it.

Three of Niagara Fall’s Brewing Co’s best known beers. The yearly release of the Eisbock, left,
the commercially available Gritstone Premium Ale and Cass Enright’s old favourite, the Maple Wheat Ale.

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