Manitoulin Brewing goes Belgian at its Winter Brews Away party

Manitoulin Brewing Company describes the new Small Batch Series Belgian Ale as having an extensive aroma and flavour, with slight orange peel and citrus notes, as well as a mild pepper spice note. This is the company’s 10th type of beer.

LITTLE CURRENT—If anyone knows how to throw a party, it’s the Manitoulin Brewing Company, whose team demonstrated their flair for fun festivities at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre earlier this month to celebrate the launch of their new product: the Small Batch Series Belgian Ale.

“With the success of last year’s lager launch, we decided to do another event, and with the old-fashioned winter we’ve been having, we called it Winter Brews Away,” said John Kift, brand ambassador at Manitoulin Brewing Company.

It was a popular party. Tickets sold out the day before, making it a packed room full of eager patrons who could not wait to sample the latest creation. This is the brewery’s 10th beer release.

“We’re really happy to see this strong, local support, and this event is just a sample of things to come in 2019 from Manitoulin Brewing Company,” Mr. Kift said.

He acknowledged general manager Corey Stacinski and executive chef Erik Kinghan from the conference centre who were helping to co-host the event, including providing the serving staff. The label was produced by Island graphic artist Kendra Edwards Design. There was also live music provided by Rodger, Disarm! from North Bay. This is their third Manitoulin Brewing Company event, and Mr. Kift jokingly refers to them as the brewery’s house band.

It was not clear whether the brewery team would have even had the product ready in time for the event. The shipment of the particular yeast used for the brew was delayed approximately a week due to bad weather. President Blair Hagman said he added the yeast to the batch on the day he received it, and it finally finished fermenting and conditioning the day before the event.

“It’ll be the freshest beer in terms of launching a product of ours,” he said.

Belgium is known for its high-quality and diverse range of beers that tend to be higher in alcohol content.

“We put our own twist on that and brought down the ABV (alcohol by volume) so it could be more sessionable. Belgian ales are typically about six to eight percent ABV, but we’ve brought ours down to 5.2 percent,” Mr. Hagman said.

He described the beer as having an extensive aroma and flavour, with slight orange peel and citrus notes, as well as a mild pepper spice note.

“It’s a good spring beer,” Mr. Hagman said. “When the sun is coming out, your deck is melting, you absorb the sun and can imagine having a beer on the porch. That’s the perfect time for this beer.”

Manitoulin Brewing Company co-owners Nishin Meawasige and Blair Hagman say they were pleased to see so many people at their Winter Brews Away launch party for their Small Batch Series Belgian Ale earlier this month. photos by Warren Schlote

For the time being, this beer in the Small Batch Series is only available in cans at the brewery retail store in Little Current. A limited run of kegs will be available to some of the brewery’s licencees. Mr. Hagman said there was about 1,800 litres of finished product after the run, enough to make roughly 120 cases of cans and fill 15 to 20 kegs.

“Last year, our Haweater’s Brew started out as a small batch run, and now it’s available from Thunder Bay to North Bay. We foresee the Belgian Ale will eventually reach markets across Ontario,” Mr. Hagman said.

It was all smiles at the launch party for the many people gathered for some live music and socializing to break the spell of winter.

“It’s great to celebrate, especially with the weather starting to warm up. We’re hoping people will enjoy our new beer and all the others we have at the party, catch up with people and have a good time,” Mr. Hagman said.