by Andrew Burns, Head Brewer
Meetinghouse. Meetinghall. Chapel.
As head brewer of a future brewery, I've had to rewrite my title plenty of times. I thought for my inaugural blog post, I'd share a little bit of what has gone into the development of our business, and especially its name.
One of the interesting things about opening a brewery is that you spend a lot of time “test driving” ideas. I've had plenty of opportunities to pour my beers for our future customers, offering free samples, using it as a chance to experiment and tweak my recipes. The reactions and criticisms have helped me shape my recipes, and develop my own personal voice as a brewer.
What I didn't expect was that this would also prove valuable to test drive our brand and image. Followers of this project know that we're now on our third name—and at least as many logos. While this might seem like a lot of changes for a fledgling business, in truth, it represents a continuing evolution towards what is the right image for our brewery. Just like our beer recipes, we've had time to tweak and adjust our branding before we open our doors.
It's better to make these changes now, before we open.
What hasn't changed is the spirit of our name. Our location is steeped in history, and we want to honor that. We want you to know that you're not just getting high quality ales—you're also getting them in a setting that has a past, that has stories to tell.
At first, Meetinghouse seemed like the perfect fit...until we realized that too many businesses were using that name in too many cities. Our team decided on a subtle change: Meetinghall. Nobody was using this name, and it seemed like a great fit to reflect the history of our space. Meetinghall also evoked the idea that our brewery was to be a gathering space for the community, that we wanted our brewery to be a place where friends came to meet.
So we test drove the name—and it was a bumpy ride.
I found myself saying “Meetinghall,” only to have people ask me to repeat what I had just said, or ask me to spell it. There was confusion as to whether it was one word or two. It was too similar to Meetinghouse, so people often got the two confused, and couldn't remember which one was the “right” name. It was a mess.
We needed to find a name that was simpler, easier for people to understand, easily recognizable, and true to our space. So we asked ourselves, “Why was this building built in the first place?” Though it had served as everything from a county voting precinct, to the town jail, to a photography studio, it's original intent was probably to be a Sunday School. Not a church, necessarily, but a meeting place. A place for religious study, sure, but also a gathering spot for the community. It was, we realized, a chapel.
We're not building a chapel for any one belief. We're not building a space to be visited just once a week. We're building a gathering space. We're building a home for a community that believes that good beer, shared with good friends, can make a place special.
We're building Chapel Brewing, but we don't have to start from the ground up. Thanks to the community of Dundas, and its rich history, we already have a strong foundation. Now it's our turn to leave our mark on 15 Hester street.