In four sentences or less, tell us about yourself and what you do.
My name is Robin Molloy, and I am the co-owner and brewmaster at Descendants Beer and Beverage Co.
We sold our first keg back in February, so we are pretty new.
Where is your brewery located?
Wellesley, Ontario. My wife is really good at doing her research and she found us a location that is literally a 20 minute drive from our front door.
The brewery is located in an old mill that is about 130 years old and about 3600 square feet. After we finish renovating the place in October, there will be a 1200 square foot tap room and tasting room.
What did you do before opening your own brewery?
I was a mortgage advisor at Scotiabank.
Why did you move from banking to brewing?
I really liked my job at Scotiabank, but I didn’t find it fulfilling. My wife was a teacher and we both realized that we were kind of in a funk, so we started looking at what we could do to change our careers.
So what made you decide to open your own brewery?
I had always been a home brewer and enjoyed doing it, and so we played with the idea.
So once you made the decision to change careers, what came next?
While still at Scotiabank I took some time off and went to the Siebel Institute, which is the oldest brewing school in North America; it’s out of Chicago, and I did a short program there and really liked it
We then decided—after I worked at Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery for a short period of time—to look into proper brewmaster training, at VLB in Berlin.
So you are coming into this with a pretty formal beer education.
I moved in the direction to formalize it. I knew I could brew really drinkable beer—I just didn’t want to run into any problems, especially if we were going to invest a lot of money.
Why did you choose the name ‘Descendants’ for your brewery?
The idea behind the name is two-fold.
First, I am from Ireland and my wife’s father was born in Scotland, so we both have Celtic backgrounds and are descendants of that heritage.
Second, we design our beers so that they’re not strictly traditional. So, if we do an English style pale ale, it will be an English style pale ale with our twist on it. It will be a “descendant” of that style.
Your flagship beer, an American Pale Ale, is called Harbinger, another powerful name.
In the olden days, before the Royal Family showed up at a town, somebody would come out and announce that the Royal Family was coming. He was called a harbinger. We really liked this character because he tells people of what’s to come.
The APA was our first beer so we wanted everything around it to be about telling people who we are and what we’re going to try to do in the future.
Speaking of things to come, what trends do you see emerging in the beer industry?
Some trends I’ve noticed are that many bar owners are moving more and more toward rotating taps, which I think is a game changer for small breweries. In the old days, you made three beers and tried to push them as hard as you could. Now that bars are looking for rotating taps, it forces small brewers to rethink their approach.
So then you will be changing things up all of the time?
We are still going for one or two main brands, but we’ll also make sure we have a few rotating beers to keep it interesting and to satisfy all the bars that are out there.
And what do you think about the Ontario brewing scene?
I think it’s great. I do enjoy seeing all the different breweries popping up because they’re all going to have their own styles of beer.
I like that the scene is staying Ontario-ish and that we’re not just following the American craft beer scene.
As some one who has spent time in both Germany and Ontario, do you find the younger beer culture in Ontario allows for more freedom to experiment with different techniques and beer styles?
I would say yes, but I would say that there is a group of people in Germany that is frustrated because the legal laws define what they can and can’t do with their breweries there.
So there is a small group in Germany that wants the more creative beers like what we have over here in North America or even in Belgium, but they have to go on the road to get them.
But Germany has its great beers. They have a brewery in every town and what they do they do really well.
What are some of your favourite beers, outside of your own?
I really like Railway City’s Dead Elephant.
I also like Steven Innocente’s brewery (Innocente Brewing Co. in Waterloo). He’s a real hop head, so when we want our hop fix, that’s where we go.
Outside of brewing and beer, what do you like to do?
We just had a son. He’s 10 months old, so he is basically the same age as the brewery. When I am not brewing, I spend time with him and it’s a lot of fun.
Will your beer be listed in the LCBO?
We have had some conversations with the LCBO, and our Harbinger APA should be in stores by March 2015.
Photo by Dylan Leeder.
Brian Tavares is a contributor to Toronto Standard.