Sweet summertime! There’s nothing more invigorating than the hustle of a cottage-country village when the sun is shining and the cottagers, boaters, fishermen, and day trippers mingle along jam-packed sidewalks.
Now, along with picking up supplies and meeting up with friends, the summer worshippers can also quench their thirst. Westport Brewing Company opened its doors late last fall, the brainchild of Wolfe Lake cottagers Tamara Phillips and Kevin Quinlan and their friend Marcqus Laver. The three partners share a love of beer and had the skills to turn their passion project into a reality.
Phillips and Laver, who are both interior designers, made the brew tanks the star of the microbrewery, designing an intimate space in which those shiny tanks are visible from every corner. Quinlan, meanwhile, used his skills as a former contractor to renovate the 100-year-old building, turning it into a character-filled and cozy 30-seat microbrewery. And those views! Visitors who get lucky will find their way to the eight-seat back deck with its picture-perfect views over a packed-out Westport Harbour and Upper Rideau Lake.
Brewmaster Tyler Swan, who learned the finer points of the business in England, is behind a line-up that includes Lakeside Lager, Upper Rideau Blonde Ale, Rideau Lakes Red, and Beaver Pond Trail Brown Ale.
Like a snack with that?
The microbrewery’s star attraction is the shiny brew tanks behind the bar. They take up a lot of space, leaving just enough room for 30 seats and a compact prep kitchen. With that in mind, the owners have put together a tasty menu of nibbles that highlights local food businesses.
Look for charcuterie boards filled with cheeses from Elgin, cured meats from Sharbot Lake’s Seed to Sausage, and salmon smoked in Westport. Smoked meat sandwiches, nuts, and pepperettes round out the classic menu.
And those out-of-this-world pretzels? Made in nearby Delta by Bastard Bakery Company, cooked onsite at the brewery, and served with homemade mustard made by brewery co-owner Tamara Phillips. (History buffs will appreciate that the bakery’s name pays homage to John Pollexfen Bastárd, a British MP from Devonshire, England, after whom this particular Canadian township was named in 1796.)
Beyond the brewery
While Wesport Brewing Company is a true microbrewery, their beer is also on tap in a couple of local spots. Find it at the historic Opinicon resort, recently renovated and fast on its way to making Chaffeys Lock famous.
Scheuermann Vineyard & Winery, located at the other end of Westport, also carries WBC.
And while the brewery is a popular spot for locals and visitors looking for a comfortable place to sip and savour a brew, it’s also available to go. Cottagers and boaters love the brewery’s “cottage crowlers” — one-litre cans, freshly bottled and sealed on the spot when they stop by the bar. Guaranteed fresh! Oh, and safer to transport than their breakable cousin, the growler.
Find it: 41-B Main St., Westport
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Hot Tip: Look for an extended outdoor deck to be ready sometime in July, pushing the outdoor seating from the current eight seats to 24 seats overlooking the scenic Westport Harbour.
Hot Tip #2: Keep up on Facebook, where the owners regularly update special events at the brewery — there’s musical entertainment most Sunday afternoons — and post about upcoming regional festivals where they’ll be slinging brews. The Westport Backyard BBQ Cookoff (Saturday, July 20) will be a biggie, with more than a dozen avid barbecue enthusiasts feeding guests and vying for prizes at Scheuermann Vineyard, with its scenic views of Sand Lake.