Capital Pint by Travis Persaud is published regularly at OttawaMagazine.com. Follow Travis on twitter @tpersaud.
Whitewater Brewing Co. will make their first appearance in Ottawa this weekend.
The Ottawa Valley brewery, about an hour and a half northwest of Ottawa in Forester Falls, opened its doors this past summer to a very warm welcome. “Currently we’re selling out every week,” says Thompson, one of Whitewater Brewing’s three owners. “I would say for a lot of people in the Valley [drinking our beer] is a learning curve, it’s tough to move people from Blue and Canadian, but everyone loves to support local guys trying to do something new.”
And now they’re ready to give Ottawa a taste of what they’re brewing. They’re one of the eight breweries on the bill for the last Brewery Market of the year at Parkdale Park on Oct. 20. They’ll be pouring all four of their beers — Farmer’s Daughter (blonde ale), Whistling Paddler (English style ale), Class V (IPA), and Midnight Stout (oatmeal stout) — to give us a sneak peak before they start popping up on taps across the city.
“We should be rolling into [Ottawa] bars and restaurants by Christmastime,” Thompson says. “I can’t say where, just yet, but we’re talking to places that prioritize local food and that have similar ethical values as us.”
The three owners — Thompson, James Innes, and Chris Thompson (that’s not a typo, there are indeed two Chris Thompson’s at the helm) — met in the Ottawa Valley, while whitewater rafting with Wilderness Tours, about eight years ago.
The threesome were on a rafting and kayaking trip through the Grand Canyon in 2009, drinking New Belgium’s Fat Tire, and were inspired not only by the taste, but also by the brewery’s philosophy. “We were reading the can and saying how cool it was that they use renewable energy, and natural ingredients, and things like that,” Thompson says. “We thought: a) how much better the beer was than what we were used to in the Valley, the typical Canadian and Coors Light, and b) how cool the ethical side was, supporting the local economy and creating real craft beer.”
That ethos became the foundation of Whitewater Brewing and it extends to where they desire to sell their beer. “We recently went on tap at the Neat Café [in Burnstown, ON] — we love their ethical values, how they support local community and food. We want to be in places like that.
“In the long term we want to provide jobs for people in the Ottawa Valley. And it provides another reason to come to the Valley, whether you come for the Ottawa River and then have a beer after kayaking, or for people coming from Ottawa to see the brewery and then get to experience all that the Ottawa Valley has to offer.”
The three owners completely self-financed Whitewater Brewing, so they’re focused on sustainable growth. They currently make 3,200 L of beer a month, but they’re about to double their production when they welcome a new fermenter to their small setup. They eventually plan to install a 10- or 15-barrel system in the future, but are thankful for the flexibility their current brewhouse offers them.
“We couldn’t afford to go straight to that size,” he says. “We’re so wrapped up and overwhelmed with what we’re doing so far!”
The Brewery Market takes place on Oct. 20 at Parkdale Park. Admission is free. Drink and food tickets can be bought on site.