Elora Brewing Company taps into successful venture

Craft Beer in the heart of downtown Elora is proving to be a small town success story in this community.

Jonathan Laurencic, of the Elora Brewing Company, spoke of the tale behind the brewery at the Nov. 26 Centre Wellington town hall meeting.

Before speaking, Centre Wellington Mayor Kelly Linton quipped “I was just thinking you’d have growlers available at every table tonight.”

Laurencic thanked Linton for providing the chance to share the story.

He said part of the brewery focus is on happy, healthy living.

Laurencic spoke on the roots of the business, why Elora was chosen and potential paths for the future.

“The brewery is a matchup of five guys … we just came together and some weird serrendipidous occurnaces brought us together … but it all came about because of a love of beer and wanting to bring craft beer to Elora.”

Laurencic stated up front “Elora was really the only community where we wanted to do this.”

While they took inspiration from other communities, “we looked at what worked and what we wanted to improve upon.”

Laurencic provided a slideshow of before, during and after photos showing the transition from the former hardware store to the current brewery and gastropub.

“The thing that we wanted to capture the most was the feel of community ownership in our business.”

One of the ways of doing that was by opening the business on the main street in Elora.

“We wanted people to have the ability for people to walk in, pick up a beer or to sit down and enjoy the environment.”

Laurencic said proponents were really lucky that under an insane amount of drywall, pegboard, plaster and wood … “was this beautiful old limestone building which took the better part of a year to renovate to bring it up to the standard we were hoping for.”

He said one of the small things was just being able to take the coverings off the second floor windows and allowing light to come in.

“We did that like within the first 10 minutes of getting into the building.”

The building was stripped to its bare bones to present the historical local essence.

“It was built in the 1860s and burnt down in the 1880s and you can still see some of that fire damage.”

Laurencic said the renovations provided an incredible learning experience and those involved recognize how strong a partner the township was in this process.

“There was so much support in every aspect from the building department. Kudos to the township for having such a progressive and business focus  mentality. It helped us a lot.”

Laurencic said that in talking with others involved in microbrewery startups – “they’ve run into nothing but red tape.”

“Instead of closing doors on us, (Centre Wellington) did nothing but open them up.”

Also helping the local startup was the assistance of the township’s community improvement plan which helped finance some of the façade improvements – such as the sign and the glass garage doors.”

The building does not provide a patio area, but opening the garage doors brings the outside in.

Laurencic said there was a joke for sometime among the partners that it seemed more like a construction business than a brewery.

Key areas of focus are community, sustainability and culture.

He added they were really fortunate to be able to pair up with Ben Sachse.

“He’s a great chef, but what he brought to the table was then ability to become a farm-to-table restaurant.”

Laurencic said everything served on the plate comes from locations close to the brewery.

“You’ll never see one of those big rig trucks pull up and deliver huge boxes of food.

Laurencic noted one of the other things the partners wanted to do was provide a blank canvass to the township and artists.

“I’ve only been living in town for about a year, but I’m always blown away by the amazing people I meet in town … it’s just spectacular.”

Moving forward, Laurencic said “we’re going to try to wrangle the beast we have right now … and hopefully approaching the LCBO in the near future.”

The application has been submitted “… and if they like us they’ll let us in.”

Even so, Laurencic said the focus will be Wellington County, Kitchener-Waterloo and Orangeville.

“We’d rather go deep where we are and become the local staple.”