Torched Brewing Company – What’s in a name?

Before we get started on the Torched Brewing Company, let’s share how our current name was founded.

It all started almost 200 years ago with water and fire.

A man named Benjamin Brewster, popularly known as Professor, and his friend, Mr. Pettis. The story started long ago before there were any known settlers in the area.  Let us take you back to 1832 when Professor and Mr. Pettis had a dream to erect a mill and a mill dam, here along the crooked waters. The two of them bought the lumber rights and got to work.

Professor and Pettis were soon in over their heads and needed to hire help, 30 people were up to the challenge and expected to make 3 million boards in one season (long hours, dangerous work and no craft beer nearby!)

Word of the mill spread. Just like word of the brewery has. Eventually, the Professor lent his namesake to that of the new nearby settlement, which became Brewster’s Mill. The town, Brewster’s Mill eventually changed to the ever-popular Grand Bend, as we know it today. Community is a cornerstone to our brewery, the rich history of Grand Bend, the current community and the future of this community. Paying tribute to the important events and people who have shaped Grand Bend from the past to the present through our name and the brewery is important to us. And this my friend was the inspiration behind our name.

Fast forward to today, our brewery is sticking with local history and giving our company a new name, Torched Brewing.

If you like a good story, read on! (We say grab a cold one and keep going…)

Well, there are certainly a few unanswered questions to this story around why they decided on that exact location to build the mill and dam. One could say that common sense was not a big factor in their decision-making. Why build a mill so far upstream, 10 miles to be exact, from the nearest shipping port at Port Franks and miles away from any neighbour, in either direction. Can you imagine the effort it took to get those loaded barges of finished boards downstream along this stretch, with not much of a moving current?

This leads to the next oversight and a very critical detail of the natural winding course of the Aux Sables; the river flowed almost level with its banks. Once the dam went up, the insufficient fall of the river made drainage extremely difficult, and the flooding began. Thousands of acres flooded upstream, in several townships, for several years, creating what was referred to as the drowned lands. Flooding had local residents and farmers quite angry, to say the least. And then they grew much angrier when the mill was not going to compensate for all the lost crops and farmland, denying the new settlers their livelihoods over the years.

Now this is where our ‘Professors’ differ. At our brewery, Torched Brewing Company, we are extremely passionate about our community and local farmers. In fact, we source as many local and fresh ingredients as we can to create our craft beer flavour profiles.

The beginning of Grand Bend

Locals begged the Professor and Pettis to take down the dam, but the two were not ready to let go of their dream. So, one dark night, the angry locals armed themselves with axes, picks and spades, or whatever they could find in their sheds. The vigilante mob tore down the dam and lit the rest of the structure on fire and by morning, the Aux Sables River ran free once again. Fast forward, without Professor Brewster and the mill never rebuilt, the settlement needed a new name. The town was renamed Grand Bend after the hairpin turn in the Aux Sables River.

This my friends is the significance of the brewery rename to Torched Brewing Company. Not because any locals were angry or anything was burned down but because it shows that when something is ‘torched’ it can bring on a new identity and thrive well into the future, as Grand Bend has. Torched Brewing Company is proud to carry on this legacy of revival.

Why the long tale?

History, tales and stories are what we hope are shared amongst friends at Torched Brewing Company. We hope you enjoyed the tale of the past and venture in to try what Torched Brewing Company has to offer!

Information gathered and summarized from:
Grand Bend – Our Stories, Our Voice (
OAC & Brewsters’ Mill – Southcott Pines Park Association