LITTLE CURRENT — Winter is generally a quiet time at Manitoulin Brewing Company (MBC), founding partner Nishin Meawasige explains. “We wanted to launch the new beer now because there’s not a lot going on here. So this launch in February is an excuse to have a party.”
The sold out event saw all 75 tickets snapped up prior to the Saturday night launch. “Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre is a great venue,” Mr. Meawasige said. “They have great food and great people to work with, so we’re very excited to co-host this launch with them.”
He is enthusiastic about working with other local businesses too. “Collaborations have been key for us and we’re going to partner more and more. The more we can do together the more we can benefit ourselves and other businesses.”
“Last year we hit the ground running and there wasn’t a lot of planning time. But we’ve been making improvements inside the brewery, on the patio, the food truck, the silo and, of course, there will be live music too. We’re excited to have Rodger, Disarm! at the launch. They played on our patio last summer and it’s good to have them back.
“Even though it’s been quiet at the brewery, we’ve been busy in other ways, obtaining new licensees and LCBO stores for our family of beers. We’ve launched a couple small batch brews and received lots of good feedback. Islanders have been very supportive.
“Up until last year we had three beers. Now we have five, and we’re launching our first lager. It’s very exciting for us because we brewed it with local Island folks in mind. This is a different type of beer. It takes longer to make. It’s similar to other light lagers and it’s easy drinking. It’s smooth and refreshing, not big and complex.”
Mr. Meawasige is very excited about the launch. “What we’re trying to achieve in our repertoire with this new beer is – they’re all kind of on a spectrum and the lager is just another point on the spectrum,” he said. “Our Cup and Saucer brew has been on fire since we got it into LCBO stores. Just on fire. We can’t keep it on shelves across Ontario. We think our new beer is the right beer at the right time.”
Partner Blair Hagman thanked everyone for attending the launch and supporting the brewery.
“It’s been a great fall and winter season brewing some new recipes under MBC,” he said. “We had a great response to our two new small batch brews, a cream ale using local Manitoulin honey from Isleaway in Mindemoya. It was great to collaborate with them. For the porter we used local dark chocolate from Manitoulin Chocolate Works in Kagawong. Both of those got some great reception and it’s great to see people enjoying those two brews tonight.”
“We’ve got a new brew that we’re excited to add to the family of our beers, to put into the fridge and get people trying it out,” Mr. Hagman continued. “Ales typically only take two weeks to brew so there’s a lot less time to wait to package the product. A lager takes four weeks and there’s a lot of attention required for it. There’s a lot of quality and consistency that you have to be careful with in order to brew something like lager. That’s something we’re really excited to add to our family of beers and tonight’s the night we’re going to unveil it.”
“One of the great perks of brewing a new beer is creating a name for it,” he explained. “Swing Bridge was an awesome experience for us to be able to produce here, and the Bridal Veil Pale Ale and Cup and Saucer brews. For this one we were trying to think of a new name, something that we wanted to bring this beer under. We had some ideas but we went back a little in history, to Doran Northern Breweries that used to have several locations across Northern Ontario. We used the name for this beer and we worked with Kendra Edwards Design from Little Current for the design on this new beer of ours. It’s 4.3 percent, a light lager. We are very excited to be able to provide a light lager beer that anyone can enjoy any time of the year. And we’re very proud of this one specifically because the taste is crisp and clean. It’s got some nice lager flavour to it. I think we’ve hit this one out of the park. We’re very proud of it.”
Mr. Hagman pulled back the black sheet to a drum roll from Jason Kift (a Haweater) of Rodger, Disarm! “So this is Haw Eater’s Brew,” he said. “It’s a name that was brewed under Dorans Brewery and we wanted to bring that beer back with the name because of the pride that people have for the Island. It’s very exciting to bring the Haw Eater’s name back. Everybody can enjoy it tonight. You guys are the first ones to try this light lager beer and we’re so excited to see people being able to share this with friends and family across the island and across Ontario.”
Rodger, Disarm! began to play and guests lined up to try the new brew. The verdict? “It’s good!”