Thunder Bay

What's on tap this fall for northwestern Ontario's craft breweries?

Heading into Oktoberfest season, craft breweries in northwestern Ontario are getting ready to roll out the barrels. Companies in Thunder Bay are expanding their hours of operation and moving to larger facilities, while the brewing company in Kenora is preparing more product for mass distribution.

Breweries mark National Drink Beer Day with expanded hours, more canned product, larger facilities

George Renner (left) and Jon Kivinen are the co-owners of Dawson Trail Craft Brewery in Thunder Bay, Ont. The company has yet to celebrate its first anniversary but is already expanding operations to six days per week. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

Heading into Oktoberfest season, craft breweries in northwestern Ontario are getting ready to roll out the barrels.

"We're pretty excited about doing events," such as the annual Oktoberfest street party on Saturday, said Taras Manzie, the president and CEO of Lake of the Woods Brewing Company in Kenora.

"It's about creating and building community, so these types of events give people a reason to come together."

The company is also starting to sell more of its beer in cans, and people will be "able to see some of the favourites that we have available on draft at licensees in takeaway packages through the Beer Store and the LCBO," said Manzie.

Taras Manzie is the owner of Lake of the Woods Brewing Company in Kenora, Ont. He believes part of his company's role is to help create a sense of community in the city. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

In Thunder Bay, the Dawson Trail Craft Brewery, which has yet to celebrate its first anniversary, also has an exciting fall on tap, said co-owner George Renner.

"We know there's a demand," said Renner of the company's move to expand its hours of operation to six days a week.

"I know personally I don't go out on a specific day to buy beer, I just go buy it when I'm out and we know a lot of our customers are like that, so it will be really good for us to be able to offer our service more days per week."

Sleeping Giant Brewing in Thunder Bay is also planning to make life easier for customers, said co-owner Matt Pearson.

By late October, the company will be in a newer, larger building.

Matt Pearson is a co-owner of Sleeping Giant Brewing Company. He says by the end of October the Thunder Bay business will be in a larger building, where they will be able to produce more varieties of beer. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

"We're going to be able to produce a much larger variety of beers and do some different styles. We haven't done barrel aging and these are things that this new space will allow us to do and then we're going to be able to do events, like tastings, and have some fun," said Pearson.

"For me that's every day," laughed Renner when he learned Wednesday marks National Drink Beer Day, at least according to one American brewing giant.

"It's nice to have a little celebration of beer," he said.

"I think it's a really cool day if you're a wine drinker, or spirit drinker to actually maybe step outside your comfort zone and try a beer that you haven't tried before," said Pearson.

"But for most of us, we'll probably be enjoying just what we enjoy all year round."