McAuslan Brewing began operations in January of 1989. Located at 4850 St-Ambroise Street in Montreal’s St-Henri district, it has established itself as Quebec’s foremost micro-brewery.
The brewery launched its first beer in February 1989. St-Ambroise Pale Ale was an immediate success. Its distinctive hoppy-ness and clear reddish hue set it apart and gained it an instant following. Shortly after, McAuslan Brewing became the first micro-brewery to offer its product in bottles.
Since that time, McAuslan Brewing has steadily expanded both its brewing capacity and its place in the market. The brewery has introduced four beers: St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout in December of 1991; the Griffon brands, Griffon Extra Pale Ale and Griffon Brown Ale in April of 92; and Frontenac – first test-marketed in the Quebec-City area in November 1995 and then launched province-wide in April 1996.
In June 1997, the brewery launched a family of seasonal beers. The four beers are brewed exclusively in season and include: Apricot Wheat Ale, brewed in the spring (now available year round); Raspberry Ale, available during the summer months; Spiced Pumpkin Ale for the fall; and Strong Ale, for the winter.
In 1998, McAuslan, in conjunction with Verger du Minot, began distributing cider on draft. Mystique Cider in bottles was launched the same year.
McAuslan Brewing is essentially the result of founder Peter McAuslan’s belief that he could brew a better beer and that Quebec consumers would provide a loyal following for it. Although he had been brewing his own beer for more than 25 years, it was only during the early ’80s that he began seriously considering going into commercial brewing. In August 1987, he left his position as a senior administrator at Dawson College and dedicated himself to turning his vision into reality.
The next year was spent consolidating funding, acquiring expertise and equipment, as well as gathering a team of people with the skills and temperament to make the venture a success. An English brewmaster, Alan Pugsley, was hired to develop the recipe for St-Ambroise and he, along with Ellen Bounsall, a biologist who trained as a brewmaster, set about the important task of establishing the brewery’s reputation for distinctive beers that have since been acknowledged by critics internationally as being among the world’s best. The brewery’s beers have now won over 12 medals in international competition including a platinum medal, a gold, five silvers and one bronze.
McAuslan Brewing’s commitment to being active in the community has been affirmed as the company has grown. Critical to this has been the company’s support of the arts, community events and charities that are a vital part of the social fabric of the communities in which its products are sold.
In 2013, the Brasseurs RJ, led by its president Roger Jaar, purchased 100% of the McAuslan Brewery when Peter McAuslan and Ellen Bounsall decided to retire.
More than ever, the McAuslan Brewery has become a fixture on the Quebec and Canadian brewing landscape, and a symbol of the renewal of Montreal’s Southwest borough. In addition to the redevelopment of the Terrasse St-Ambroise, which has already benefited for years from the many cyclists and walkers who frequent the Lachine Canal, we have also inaugurated the Annexe St-Ambroise, a pub that offers a unique McAuslan experience. A St-Ambroise boutique complements these new infrastructures and a mini brew house allows us to experiment, create new trends and push the art of brewing even further. Today, the McAuslan Brewery, an avant-garde pioneer among the micro-breweries of Quebec and Canada, is ready and proud to meet new challenges while faithfully protecting what has been its strength for so many years — the outstanding quality of its beers.
Roger Jaar, President
Born in Martinique, Roger Jaar went on to pursue his studies at l’École Polytechnique de Lausanne in Switzerland, where he graduated in electrical engineering in 1971. In 1998, Roger founded RJ Brewers, the very first group of microbreweries in Quebec; it included the Brasseurs de l’Anse in the Saguenay region, Brasseurs GMT in the Plateau Mont Royal and Brasserie Cheval Blanc in Montreal. He spent the following years working at developing RJ Brewers and its microbrewery beers in Quebec.
In 2008, he jumped at the opportunity to partner with Peter McAuslan of McAuslan Breweries and, eventually, decided to acquire Peter’s remaining shares when Peter decided to retire in May 2013. Since then, Roger has taken over the leadership of McAuslan Brewery as president.
Peter McAuslan, Founder
Peter McAuslan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sir George Williams University in 1972 and worked for the Montreal Y.M.C.A. and Dawson College.
Peter McAuslan credits his eclectic interests, his inquisitiveness and his broad-based experience in recreation, education, business, gardening and lately in farming for his success and the growth of McAuslan Brewing from a micro-brewery startup to one of the largest regional breweries in the country.
Peter was born in Lachine, Quebec, and educated at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia) where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1972.
Prior to founding McAuslan Brewing in 1988, Peter first worked for the YMCA as a community organizer and then for Dawson College where he occupied a number of management positions, rising to Secretary General in the years prior to his departure from the college. He occupied the position of president general manager of his new brewery until his retirement in May 2013.
Peter has served as the President of the Quebec Microbrewery Association, as a director of the Brewers Association of Canada and the Association of Brewers in the U.S. He also had strong community values and was personally involved on a number of levels. Peter was particularly interested in the development of the South West sector of Montreal.
Ellen Bounsall, Founder
Ellen Bounsall was the Master Brewer and Vice President, Production at McAuslan Brewing until she retired with her husband Peter McAuslan in May 2013.
Born and educated in Ottawa, Ontario, Ellen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Ottawa in 1973.
She subsequently went to work at Dawson College in Montreal, first as an Academic Advisor to science students and subsequently as Director of Records, Director of Admissions and finally, as Registrar.
Ellen left Dawson in 1989, to turn her scientific rigor and well honed management skills to the art of brewing. She was responsible for the development, quality and reliability of the brewery’s products in the years subsequent, expanding the brewing capacity and building the team of brewers, quality control technicians and other staff.
Ellen developed her brewing skills through hands on experience and by attending courses in brewing, brewing microbiology and quality control at the Siebel Institute of Brewing in Chicago.
The products for which Ellen is responsible have won dozens of national and international awards, including a platinum medal for St- Ambroise Oatmeal Stout at the World Beer Championships in Chicago and a gold medal for Griffon Extra Pale Ale at the World Beer Cup.
Ellen is one of the few female brewers to be a member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas and is a member of the Product Integrity Committee of the Brewers Association of Canada.