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It was 4 a.m., and Warren Pyper was making sausages. That's when the grocery store butcher realized the city he loves is missing something.
“Hamilton doesn't have a craft brewery,” he thought to himself. “Over 500,000 people and no craft brewery.”
Pyper, a former Hamilton-based military master corporal, graduated from Niagara College's chef program, and was racking his brain for a way to build his own business.
“I wanted to work for myself,” the 31-year-old said. “Being a professional solider really brings out your work ethic.”
Now, two years later with a business plan that has been refined as many times as his own beer recipes, Pyper is bringing craft brews to the Steel City.
And, he's chosen a rapidly growing market. Eric Hoskins, Ontario's economic development minister, said Friday as he kicked off Ontario Craft Brewing week, craft beers sales have increased 575 per cent in the past six years.
Pyper just signed a lease on a vacant, 4200 sq. ft. warehouse in the north end, near Burlington and Wellington streets. He'd viewed dozens of properties until this one came up. It's the perfect place with enough space for all this brewing equipment, a retail store and room to grow.
“It will bring jobs back to the lower city,” Pyper said. “And the fact it's not tied to steel is a good thing.”