Niagara-on-the-Lake brewery buys out one of Ontario’s original craft beer-makers

Josh Graham of Virgil’s Silversmith Brewing and Ken Woods of Etobicoke’s Black Oak Brewing share a beer. The two craft breweries recently joined forces under ownership of Silversmith. Photo credit: Silversmith


One of Niagara’s most iconic craft breweries is expanding its business.

Virgil’s Silversmith Brewing, located in an 1890s church on Niagara Stone Road on route to Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake, recently purchased all assets of Etobicoke’s Black Oak Brewing Co.

The move will allow Silversmith to shift its focus to “small-batch innovations unique to the area known to most as Ontario’s wine country” and allow the brewery to seek out more “co-packing opportunities with other like-minded small beverage producers.” 

Both brewing facilities will remain in operation. 

“This move makes just makes sense as both Silversmith and Black Oak are stronger together,” said Josh Graham, president and CEO, Silversmith Brewing Company Limited. “Ken (Woods) is part of the fabric of craft brewing in Ontario and Black Oak has a long-respected history that aligns with our mission to brew authentic, quality, great tasting craft beer and as time progressed, the benefits of combining our strengths became apparent.” 

“We are at a place that feels right and is the start of an exciting future for both Silversmith and Black Oak.”

Founded in 1999 by Ken Woods, Black Oak was one of Ontario’s first craft breweries and helped revolutionize the local craft beer industry. 

Black Oak’s Pale Ale and Nut Brown Ale are two of the most well-known and revered craft brews on the Ontario market today. 

“Black Oak Brewing has been my mission for the past 23 years,” said Ken Woods, president, Black Oak Brewing Company Limited. “We’ve persevered through many challenges, and I am looking forward to what the future holds and the new opportunities that this purchase will bring.”

Woods and his entire team will remain in place at Black Oak under the ownership of Silversmith. 

According to a press release from the company, Silversmith began exploring a variety of options when it became clear that operations at its Virgil church needed to be suspended to carry out extensive structural repairs to the historic location. Early in 2022, Silversmith purchased a new canning line that was installed at Black Oak’s Etobicoke facility.

“As we take this important step in our brewery’s trajectory, we are optimistic about the future of craft brewing in Ontario and are committed to its success going forward,” concluded Graham. 

Silversmith was co-founded in 2011 by Chris Pontsioen and Matt Swan. 

Graham took over as president and CEO of the brewery in August 2022, after leading business development at Lake of the Woods Brewing for the past two years and serving in successive managerial roles at Muskoka Brewery over the six years prior. 

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