OUR STORY

Celebrating 45 years
of Craft Brewing

Charles MacLean’s journey from riding a Norton Commando motorcycle through the English countryside to becoming the Godfather of Ontario craft brewing is a tale of passion, tradition, and innovation. In the 1970s, what started as a trip for adventure turned into a life-changing odyssey into the world of brewing craft beer. 

During his adventures, Charles encountered brewmasters who introduced him to the intricate art and science behind brewing. This invaluable experience laid the foundation for what would become a brewing legacy.

Small Batch To Local Legend

Returning to Canada, Charles applied his newfound knowledge with fervor, setting up breweries and experimenting with brewing techniques on his farm. His small-batch beers quickly became a local legend, with community members eagerly awaiting his deliveries, ready to exchange their cash for his coveted brews.

But Charles’ journey didn’t end there. Even as he aged, his passion for brewing never waned. It was during these later years that he met Michael D’Agnillo and Curtis Schmalz, two partners who saw the potential in Charles’ artisanal beers. They persuaded him to expand his horizon beyond the small community, to share his exceptional brews with a larger audience. 

Charles, Michael and Curtis have progressed MacLean’s beers from a local treasure into the symbol of craft beer in Ontario and the hallmark of tradition and quality since 1979. Their collaborative efforts have resulted in an array of distinctive beers, each with its own story and flavour, echoing Charles’ original commitment to producing quality craft brews.

The Symbol Of Craft Beer in Ontario

And The Hallmark Of Tradition & Quality

The Heritage of MacLean's Craft Beers

Welcome to my journey with MacLean’s, a personal odyssey that spans the vibrant landscapes of Ontario and decades filled with dedication, craftsmanship, and connection with our community. This story, deeply rooted in the traditions of our land, is continuously renewed by the innovative flavours and enduring spirit of true craft beer.

Through the years, every beer we’ve crafted marks a defining moment in our collective adventure, capturing sparks of inspiration, fruitful collaborations, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. From our humble beginnings to the diverse range of beers you enjoy today, MacLean’s has evolved from a cherished local endeavour to a mainstay of Ontario’s craft beer scene.

But this isn’t just the tale of a brand’s growth; it’s a narrative about the flourishing of a community united by a love for exceptional beer. It’s my salute to the dedicated team behind each brew and every supporter who has ever lifted a MacLean’s beer in celebration.

Join me in honouring the milestones that define MacLean’s, from the deep, rich flavours of our stouts to the light, invigorating touch of our lagers. Here’s to the continuing legacy of MacLean’s — a legacy built on the bedrock of local tradition, community connection, and the timeless art of brewing. 

Cheers!

1979

Charles MacLean’s Journey Begins

Charles rides through the English countryside on his Norton Commando motorbike and learns the art of craft beer making. This year marks the start of a lifelong passion for craft brewing ales, lagers & stouts.

1979

1983 - 1985

Lobbie’s Canadian Government To Recognize Craft Brewing

Charles becomes an advocate for craft brewing in Canada, lobbying the government for recognition of “Real Ale” and the establishment of craft breweries. His efforts contribute significantly to the burgeoning craft beer scene in Ontario

1983 - 1985

1985

Co-Founder Of Wellington Brewery

Co-founds Wellington Brewery in Guelph, Ontario, elevating his presence in the craft beer industry and laying the groundwork for the craft beer movement in the region.

1985

1990 - 1995

Continues Work Paving Craft Beer Landscape In Canada

During this time, Charles consulted for various pubs and craft breweries, sharing his brewing expertise and continuing to influence the craft beer landscape in Canada.

1990 - 1995

1995

Co-Founds FM Brewery In Guelph

Co-founds FM Brewery in Guelph, Ontario, further cementing his status as a key figure in the craft beer industry and expanding his influence in the region.

1995

2009

Steps Back & Creates The Smallest Craft Brewery In Ontario

In this period, Charles took a step back from the hum-drum of commercial operations and began brewing on his hobby farm, returning to the roots of brewing with a focus on small-batch, artisanal beers, creating what was recognized as the smallest brewery in Ontario.
2009

2013

New Beginnings and Strategic Partnerships

Charles meets Michael D’Agnillo and Curtis Schmalz forming a partnership that would take MacLean’s brewing creations to the next level.

2013

2014

MacLean’s Brewery

MacLean’s brewery state of the art facility opens in Hanover, Ontario.

2014

2023

Relocation to Collingwood & The Blue Mountains

MacLean’s establishes a strategic partnership with the Collingwood Brewery.

2023

Today

Celebrates 45 Years!

With Charles now the brewmaster emeritus, MacLean’s has grown significantly and is now available not only in the brewery store but also in an ever increasing number of locations across Ontario. This milestone marks the culmination of Charles’ lifelong dedication to the success of the craft beer industry in Ontario.

Today

1979

Charles MacLean’s Journey Begins

Charles rides through the English countryside on his Norton Commando motorbike and learns the art of craft beer making. This year marks the start of a lifelong passion for craft brewing ales, lagers & stouts.

1979

1983 - 1985

Lobbie’s Canadian Government To Recognize Craft Brewing

Charles becomes an advocate for craft brewing in Canada, lobbying the government for recognition of “Real Ale” and the establishment of craft breweries. His efforts contribute significantly to the burgeoning craft beer scene in Ontario

1983 - 1985

1985

Co-Founder Of Wellington Brewery

Co-founds Wellington Brewery in Guelph, Ontario, elevating his presence in the craft beer industry and laying the groundwork for the craft beer movement in the region.

1985

1990 - 1995

Continues Work Paving Craft Beer Landscape In Canada

During this time, Charles consulted for various pubs and craft breweries, sharing his brewing expertise and continuing to influence the craft beer landscape in Canada.

1990 - 1995

1995

Co-Founds FM Brewery In Guelph

Co-founds FM Brewery in Guelph, Ontario, further cementing his status as a key figure in the craft beer industry and expanding his influence in the region.

1995

2009

Steps Back & Creates The Smallest Craft Brewery In Ontario

In this period, Charles took a step back from the hum-drum of commercial operations and began brewing on his hobby farm, returning to the roots of brewing with a focus on small-batch, artisanal beers, creating what was recognized as the smallest brewery in Ontario.
2009

2009

MacLean’s Blonde

 

Charles MacLean, leveraging decades of brewing expertise, crafts the first batch of MacLean’s Blonde. Inspired by his deep respect for traditional brewing techniques and the rich farmhouse heritage,this brew marks a significant addition to the burgeoning craft beer scene in Ontario.

2009

2010

MacLean’s Armchair Scotch Ale

In the pursuit of creating a beer that embodies comfort and tradition, Charles MacLean introduces MacLean’s Armchair Scotch Ale. This brew, crafted with care and expertise, offers a warm embrace to those seeking solace and richness in their glass.

2010

2013

New Beginnings and Strategic Partnerships

The pivotal year when Charles meets future business partners, Michael D’Agnillo and Curtis Schmalz. This partnership would lead to the next significant phase in Charles’ brewing career.

2013

2014

MacLean’s Ales Brewery

The trio establish a new facility, MacLean’s Ales Inc. Brewery. This move signifies a major expansion and the beginning of a new chapter for MacLean’s craft beers.

2014

2014

MacLean’s Luck & Charm Oatmeal Stout

This year marks the birth of MacLean’s Luck & Charm Oatmeal Stout, a creation that adds a new layer of richness to the brewery’s offerings. Charles MacLean, along with his new partners Michael &Curtis, with his seasoned hand and innovative spirit, crafts this distinctive stout to cater to those who seek depth and complexity in their beer.

2014

2017

MacLean’s Lazy Hazy IPAzy

This year, MacLean’s introduces a new dimension to their beer selection with the Lazy Hazy IPAzy, a brew that encapsulates the essence of leisure and laid-back enjoyment. Embracing the evolving tastes of craft beeraficionados, Charles MacLean crafts this India Pale Ale to offer a refreshing departure from traditional IPAs.

2017

2017

MacLean’s Cherry Porter

This year sees the introduction of MacLean’s Cherry Porter, a unique take on the classic porter that intertwines the smooth, deep flavours of the dark ale with the delicatetartness of sour cherries. This innovative blend marks another milestone for MacLean’s, showcasing the brewery’s continuous evolution and commitment to exploring new flavour territories.

2017

2018

MacLean’s Brewmaster Brown Ale

Marking a new chapter in the MacLean’s beer saga, the Brewmaster Brown Ale is introduced, encapsulating the mastery and personal touch of Charles MacLean himself. This year, MacLean’s pays homage to traditional English brewing techniques while showcasing the unique flair that the brewery is known for.

2018

2022

MacLean’s County Cream Ale

This year marks the introduction of MacLean’s County Cream Ale, a new venture for the brewery that combines traditional brewing artistry with innovative flavors. Embracing the spirit of Ontario’s rich agricultural landscape, this Cream Ale offers a unique twist on a classic style, reflecting the brewery’s dedication to creating versatile, enjoyable beers.

2022

2024

MacLean’s Light

In a move that signals both a nod to tradition and an embrace of contemporary tastes, MacLean’s introduces MacLean’s Light, a premium lager that captures the essence of simplicity and quality in craft brewing. This year, MacLean’s taps into the growing demand for light, refreshing beers that can be enjoyed on any occasion, adding a new dimension to its esteemed portfolio.

2024

Today

MacLean’s Beer

MacLean’s Beer has grown significantly and is now available not only in the brewery store but also in an increasing number of locations across Ontario. This expansion marks the culmination of Charles MacLean’s dedication to craft beer, from his early days learning the trade in England to becoming a celebrated figure in the Ontario craft beer industry.

Today
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