A decade ago, Red Tape Brewery’s owners met at Beau’s Oktoberfest — Sarabeth a customer, Shawn a volunteer behind the bar. But that wasn’t the name she knew him by initially. “One of my girlfriends yelled, ‘That’s Bacon Grease!’” says Sarabeth of her future husband’s unfortunate moniker following an oily incident at the festival. “And here we are 10 years later.”

Shawn Holden grew up with Steve Beauchesne, the CEO of Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. in Vankleek Hill, Ont. But it wasn’t until years later, when the Holdens toasted their son’s birthday with a custom bottle brewed and distributed to friends across the country, that the blueprint began to form for what would become Red Tape Brewery in the Danforth Village area.

“I think he’s a super-taster,” says Sarabeth of Shawn, a lifelong home brewer. “He understands the hops and he understands the science that brings them together to create this beautiful beer.”

Even with a great nose for beer, the couple needed all the help they could get to open a brewery at the start of the pandemic, and in this locale. “We were the first brewery to open in a commercial- residential zoned area,” says Sarabeth. “It wouldn’t have been possible without other craft breweries working with the city to change the bylaws.”

Vats inside Red Tape Brewery

Thanks to east-end pals like Left Field Brewery, Red Tape was able to get up and running, and has been serving delicious brews like their orange and ginger Celebration Saison, and the Starry Night Lager, which honours Pride and the LGBTQ2S+ community, ever since.

As Toronto’s first Inuit-owned brewery, it seems only right that one of the most popular beers, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, pays homage to ancestry and all that came before us. Brighter and more citrusy than a traditional American pale ale, the beer reduces waste by fermenting yeast and hops that would otherwise be thrown away. “When I tell people about it, they’re like, ‘Why aren’t more breweries doing that?’” says Sarabeth.

Red Tape Brewery: Bespoke brews

Beer at Red Tape Brewery

In addition to the mainstays on tap, the brewery creates bespoke beer for special occasions. Those looking to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or wedding can chat with the brewmaster for a customized brew. We’ll cheers to that.

Red Tape Brewery: Merch

Merch sold at Red Tape Brewery

In addition to cans, Red Tape has a merch store both in-house and online. Add everything from cozy hoodies and sweatpants, recycled cashmere toques, and even kids’ books from owner and author Sarabeth Holden to your shopping basket. 

Red Tape Brewery: Pop-up collabs

Seating inside Red Tape Brewery

The brewery doesn’t have a kitchen but it’s always cooking up yum collabs with local producers. Enjoy pop-ups from spots like Sunnyside Waffles and Tuck Shop Kitchen — then chase them with some brewskis.