I have always said, or at least have said for the last two years or so, that there are two or three Ontario craft breweries in which I would readily and speedily invest my money, were I to have such sums to invest.* One of them was the King Brewery, but I have been beaten to the punch.
Located just north of the city of Toronto, King is one of the province’s and, indeed, Canada’s finest brewing companies, largely thanks to the skills and dedication of founder Phil DiFonzo. Problem is, King lingered consistently on the fringes of craft beer because for many if not most die-hard beer aficionados, ale rules the craft beer roost. And DiFonzo had the temerity to specialize in – gasp! – lagers.
But oh, how good those lagers are! King Pilsner is a beer that can stand up to the best lagers the Czech Republic can produce, even if it has from time to time strayed a little too heavily towards the dicetyl side of the style, and King Dark Lager is a Bavarian-style dunkel of serious repute. And when DiFonzo decided to try his hand at a Vienna Lager this past year, he nailed it on his first release with this beauty.
Now the good news. Among the reasons I selected King as one of the breweries in which I would invest is that it has, to my mind, at least, long been under-capitalized. That, however, should end with the revelation that Beer Barons, a young but apparently well-moneyed beer importing firm, has purchased the brewery with plans to grow the brewery significantly, possibly to other provinces, with DiFonzo remaining at the helm.
What this hopefully means is more King beer available in more places, no loss of direction for the brewery and greater prosperity for a brewer and brewery owner whose day-to-day passion and devotion to his craft should be seen as a template for others in this business.
* If you’re looking here for the names of the others, sorry, I ain’t telling!