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Side Launch Brewing Co. acquired by London brewery

New owners at Equals Brewing said Collingwood brewery and taproom will remain open
Side Launch Brewing Co. was established in 2014 in Collingwood, Ont.

Collingwood brewery Side Launch Brewing Co. has been acquired by Ontario-based Equals Brewing in a deal that will see both brands maintain their flagship locations.

“Having been in the industry for so long and knowing the history of Side Launch and the history of the beers and the location in Collingwood, they’ve always been an admirable craft brewer, in my opinion,” said Justin McKellar, president of Equals Brewing in London. “As we were looking at potential partnerships and ways to grow our brand, Side Launch was honestly at the top of our list from the beginning.”

Equals Brewing Company was established in 2018 and is now a contract manufacturing partner for beer, cider, pre-mixed cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. Prior to this acquisition, the Equals-branded business consisted of Bangarang Hard Seltzer and Shake Lager.

As part of the acquisition, McKellar said the Side Launch brewery and taproom in Collingwood and the Equal Brewing facilities in London will both stay open, with plans to maintain existing brews and bring back some old favourites such as Side Launch Passionate Sour.

“Side Launch produced great-tasting kettle sours. We want to bring back those brands that were very successful,” said McKellar.

McKellar said discussions with Side Launch began earlier this year. 

“The more we learned, the more we liked the idea of working together and it morphed into a full acquisition of the space and brands,” he said.

McKellar notes that the Ontario craft beer boom started around 2014, around the same time as Side Launch. Over time, he says some breweries have flourished while others may fall behind, and merging and acquisitions of breweries could become more common throughout the sector.

“When they launched there could have easily been maybe 200 breweries (in Ontario). Now, there’s probably about 400,” he said. “The growth of the category... means it becomes more competitive. I think there’s an appetite for the Ontario consumer to support local.”

McKellar notes that the cost of sales and distribution can be a challenge for smaller craft breweries.

“So, when we saw the opportunity to bring the companies together, it was a no-brainer,” he said. “We’re excited to continue to build on that Side Launch brand.”

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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