FEATURE: Craft Beer Week – Lake of Bay’s Brewing Co.’s Melissa Thompson

Lake of Bays brewmaster Dan Unkerskov
With National Capital Craft Beer Week
in full swing we thought it would be fun to preview some of the special
beers that will be making an appearance at the two day festival capping
off the week long celebration (August 16 & 17, Marion Dewar Plaza).

Another brewery making the long drive to Ottawa for the two day festival is Lake of Bays Brewing Company from Baysville, Ontario.  Thanks to its wide availability in the LCBO we've had the beer before, but don't necessarily know the story behind it.  We chatted with events and marketing intern, Melissa Thompson to get the story and to find out what they're bringing to the Craft Beer Week Festival this weekend.

Ottawa Beer Events: Can you tell us a bit about the history of your brewery? How did it get started?

Melissa Thompson (Lake of Bays Brewing Company): Darren Smith loved beer when he was in university. Student loves beer. Stop the presses. But he loved it so much that he started brewing his own, on the stove, in his Montreal apartment. He lived across the street from a brewpub and got to know the brewers there very well.

Upon graduation he vowed to start up his own brewery. A considerable undertaking that begins with where to put it… He was discussing the matter over a beer with his dad, Ian, who was facing a different conundrum. Ian and Darren's mom Liz had just bought a couple of old buildings in Baysville, near Algonquin Park, where the family has been summering for nearly two decades, and they weren't sure what to do with them…

Hmmmm. (Looking into the fire…) Hmmm…. A beer or two later Lake of Bays Brewing Company was born.

Lake of Bays Brewing Company opened the doors of its state-of-the-art brewery with a staff of four in 2010. Today there are 40 employees and our beer is available across Ontario, and recently in Manitoba. We are also hoping to ship stateside and out west in the near future.

What are your flagship beers?

Here at Lake of Bays Brewing Company we currently have 3 year-round beers available and 4 seasonal beers. This does not include the new releases with our new NHLAA partnership deal. That said, our main flagship beer is the Crosswind pale, which is a true to style American pale ale. Our other two year-round beers are Spark House red ale and Rock Cut Baysville Lager.

Your company is very active in supporting various causes. Can you tell us more about how purchasing your beer at the LCBO helps support Algonquin Park?

We have worked with “Friends of Algonquin Park” a couple of times in the past and we want to support them on an on-going basis. We admire what they do and want to be contributing members of our local community. Any 750ml bottle of our 10 Point IPA sold, a donation of 25 cents goes to support the on-going efforts of “Friends of Algonquin Park”.

Can you tell us more about your upcoming collaboration with the NHL Alumni Association?

As you may or may not know, Lake of Bays Brewing Company and the NHL Alumni Association signed a three year deal to produce a portfolio of beers for Hockey’s greatest family. Our first beer in the collaboration is called “Top Shelf Classic Lager” and is a nice refreshing lager. It is scheduled to come out at the end of September/ beginning of October just in time for hockey season. It is a craft beer in the sense that it is made locally and in small batch brews using only the finest local ingredients but it will be more of a mainstream taste then traditional craft brews.

We also have plans for a series of seasonal beers with the NHL Alumni, which the first is set to come out around November of this year.

Which beers will you be showcasing at the National Capital Craft Beer Festival this weekend?

This weekend at the National Capital Craft Beer Festival we will be showcasing and sampling all three of our year-round beers: Crosswind Pale Ale, Spark House Red Ale and Rock Cut Lager. In addition we will have our summer seasonal River Walker available. It is a big bold summer beer that features lemon and ginger, perfect for hop heads.

If we could only sample one Lake of Bays beer at the festival, which one should it be?

Hmm that is a tough question as it depends on your drinking tastes. I think I would have to recommend the Rock Cut as it will appeal to a larger crowd, it has been a summer crowd pleaser and is perfect on a hot day.

You can follow Lake of Bays Brewing Company on Twitter (@LB_Brewing) or Facebook (Lake of Bays Brewing Co.) or you can stop by and say hi at their booth during the Craft Beer Week Festival (with a beer in hand of course).

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BEER FESTIVAL: National Capital Craft Beer Week Starts Friday!
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FEATURE: Craft Beer Week – Sawdust City Brewing Co.'s Sam Corbeil

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