SRED Unlimited Brewery Road Trip – August 2022
SRED Consultant David Reti
“What I found most interesting was that every one of these businesses are using SR&ED refunds to help grow their business, but each of them is doing it in very different ways.” – David R.
Part 1 – Merit Brewing
It was a gorgeous summer day in the middle of August when we piled into the van and started our SRED Unlimited Brewery Road Trip. I’ve spent the last few years talking to all my clients over a computer and this was finally my chance to meet them in person. I really wasn’t sure what to expect.
Arriving at Merit Brewing in downtown Hamilton, however, was a treat even just walking in. It’s a gorgeous, open space, with the brewery equipment visible through tall glass windows at the back. You can’t help but immediately feel relaxed and at ease.
We made our way to the patio, checking out the menus while we soaked in the sun. Merit is known for its excellent sausages and amongst the 6 of us, we tried every variety. I had the cauliflower bhaji (vegetarian) sausage. Normally I wouldn’t, but I know how much work Merit put into getting it just right. I mean, how do you get cauliflower to taste like a meat-based sausage? Well, if you want to know… this is where to find out! Delicious, full sausage flavour, on warm naan, with a side of mixed pickles (including pickled grapes). It was a real treat after the drive into downtown Hamilton. And totally worth it!
We grabbed some tasting flights and were given recommendations on what beers paired best with each food order.
Merit Brewing is of course known for its beer-wine hybrids and experimental drafts. Beer-wine hybrids are still very niche, but considering how quickly they sell out, the brewery is obviously on to something. As John W put it – “if you’re expecting a beer, you may be disappointed, but if you think of it as a wine, you’ll probably be very impressed.” There was some good consensus around SVP and Strange Animal and mixed reactions to their Roses Are Red and Violets are Blue beer-wine hybrids.
After lunch, Brew Master Aaron Spinney took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the brewhouse. We were treated to an informative session explaining the brewing process from start to finish and some insight into Merit’s philosophy.
“We really wanted to make Merit into an experimental playground for craft beer; to really see how far we could push the envelope of what we can do.”
And it’s working. Merit Brewing is not only selling out virtually every brew almost as fast as they can make it, but they are carving a niche for themselves in the beer-wine hybrid category – one of only a handful of breweries in Ontario even attempting such a complicated concoction.
“Aaron’s story really resonated with me. They’ve built a business that allows them to have fun with their beers and they’re clearly making something people love. Staying local and at their current scale means they can keep their customers happy and keep making great beer. I really liked that.” – Kon K.
After picking up some additional cans to take home for the rest of the SR&ED team that couldn’t join us, we trekked north to Mandioca Cheese Buns. Stayed tuned for SRED Unlimited Brewery Road Trip – Part 2 with our visit to Mandioca Bakery!