Kingsville Brewery eyes expansion to U.S. markets
Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Local company targeting Lone Star State,
co-owner Marty Turco tells TSN
KINGSVILLE — The Kingsville Brewery received a big shoutout last week from a guy whose job was to shutout opposing NHL teams.
Former goaltender Marty Turco, a native of Sault Ste. Marie and a co-owner of the brewery with Kingsville cousin Mark Muzzin, was interviewed at length by TSN's Leaf Lunch co-hosts Andi Petrillo and Mike Johnson.
He talked a lot of hockey, but he also talked a lot about beer — Kingsville Brewery beer.
“You know, Canada’s known for great beers,” he told the two hosts. “I was like, hey Mark, I want to make a great Canadian beer. I want to crush in Ontario, across Canada, which we are on our way to doing.”
The former goalie for the Dallas Stars, who now lives in Texas and has an executive position with the NHL club, said he is also looking to expand the brand beyond Canada to the Lone Star State.
The brewery, through Turco’s connections, has formed a business alliance with Joe DePinto, CEO of 7-Eleven, and is selling beer — as a pilot project — at 350 convenience stores in Texas. A similar plan is slated for Michigan.
“I really want my colleagues, my friends and Texans to enjoy a good Canadian beer,” Turco said.
Headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth, 7-Eleven has 8,500 stores across the United States.
Turco also talked about the brewery winning a silver medal for its Light Eh! In the light beer category at the Canadian Brewery Awards, a competition that also saw Walkerville Brewery in Windsor win four awards.
When asked when and where his passion for beer started, Johnson interrupted before Turco could answer.
“Lots of beer drinking, lots and lots of training (at the University of Michigan) and from the Sault, a lifetime of training finally comes through.”
Later Turco, after talking about Muzzin, his wife Izabela and brewmaster Derek Bilokraly, returned to Johnson’s observation on the origin of his bond with beer.
“To be honest, Mike really nailed it. It’s been a lifetime of drinking beer. Ever since, you know, probably 15 years old having a good northern beer from Sault Ste. Marie.”
Muzzin said he found the clip entertaining and said his cousin is a born salesman and networker. He said the TSN Toronto 1050 Toronto market is huge and the plug for the brewery would have an impact.
“You can’t buy that sort of thing,” he said.
Muzzin and Turco’s fathers are first cousins: Muzzin would spend summers with Turco in Sault Ste. Marie at their family cottages. The two are friends as well as relatives. Muzzin started brewing his own beer after looking out his backyard on Linden Beach and seeing his neighbour Bilokraly’s brewing set-up.
He wandered over, was intrigued and decided to buy his own equipment and start brewing.
“He said if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right.”
As his skills grew, he entered a tasting competition in Michigan and did well; bigger plans developed, and once he purchased the property next to his family-run butcher shop — now the Kingsville Brewery Taproom — he decided he would enter the brewing business.
That’s when Turco stepped in.
“He said if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right,” Muzzin said.
Once the brewing plans grew to a grander scale, Muzzin put his ego aside and decided Bilokraly should be his brewmaster.
“At that point, I realized this was bigger than me and I needed to bring in Derek because Derek’s beers were just incredible. I looked up to him and said this can’t be me … I have to bring in someone who is bona fide, someone who has a better knack for making beer,” he said.
Muzzin declined to discuss how large an investment he and Turco have made in the brewery.
The Kingsville Brewery currently contracts out its brewing to Brunswick Beer Works in Toronto; the canning, kegging and packaging are done in London at Equals Brewing Company.
By the end of November, brewing, canning and kegging will be done at the company’s new brewery on Park Street.
“It’s almost done. It’s very, very close,” Muzzin said of the brewery.
Between the taproom and a fully functional brewery, there will be 50 employees.
Curling team visit on tap
The 127 on each can of Kingsville Brewery beer is the number of wins goalie Marty Turco earned during his four years on the University of Michigan hockey team.
Mark Muzzin played Triple-A peewee hockey with Ed Jovanovski, a former Windsor Spitfire and the first-overall pick in the 1994 NHL entry draft.
Turco was the third-string goalie when the Dallas North Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999. He retired from the NHL in 2011.
The Kingsville Brewery will have a 35-barrel, four-vessel system that will be capable of turning out 90 hectolitres, or 9,000 litres, of beer in one run. It will be one of the largest microbreweries in Southwestern Ontario.
Team Jacobs, one of the top curling teams in Canada, is sponsored by Kingsville Brewery and will attend an event at the taproom on Wednesday.
Over his 11-year career in the NHL, Turco had 41 shutouts.
According to 2017 statistics, Texas had the 10th largest economy in the world. The state has a GDP of $1.65 trillion, slightly ahead of Canada.