The booming business of brewing in the Ottawa Valley
Stalwart Brewing is located in Carleton Place. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)
CARLETON PLACE, ONT. -- Over the last decade, the craft beer scene has grown rapidly in the Ottawa Valley, evolving from a niche trend to a thriving industry.
A common name throughout the region, Whitewater Brewing Co. joined the scene early in 2013.
"When we started we were the sixth brewery between here in Cobden and Vankleek Hill where Beau's (Brewing Co.) are," says Chris Thompson, president of Whitewater Brewing. "And now there is over 40."
Over 40 craft breweries, Thompson says, that bring employment, tourism, and good times to the region.
"I think people really love the area and want to just give back where possible, and a brewery is a great way to do that," said Thompson.
Joining the scene in Carleton Place at the end of 2015 was Stalwart Brewing. Co-owner Adam Newlands likens the emergence of so many breweries to similar small town staples.
"It's nice to have a bakery in town, or a couple different bakeries, so it's the same thing I think with beer," says Newlands. "It's kind of the way it used to be when beer didn't travel well and you just had lots of little breweries in every little town you went to."
"I think people have figured out that drinking beer in a more traditional way," Newlands continues. "Which meant drinking beer that was close to you and that was quite fresh is something that people are into."
As more craft beer options become increasingly available throughout the valley, the challenge becomes standing out from the rest. For Cartwright Springs owner Andre Rieux, he uses the fresh spring water that flows just metres from his brewery.
"I make as much beer as I can and it all disappears, I don't think any of the breweries that are out there right now are lacking customers," says Rieux, acknowledging the abundance of options available to consumers.
Despite the competition to have his product stand out from the rest and make sales, Rieux - along with the other brewers we spoke to in the valley - say there is no competitive nature between brewers.
"Every time we have little hiccups with supplies or anything like that, we can count on our neighbours to get us out of a jam," says the Cartwright Springs owner.
Whether your choice is ales, stouts, or IPA's, Thompson says there is no fear of the valley's craft beer scene being waterlogged with choices.
"I think there is a limited space for breweries that want to be producing for province-wide distribution," says the Whitewater brewer. "I think there is almost unlimited space for those that want to be their small town's local brewery."
Newlands says that Stalwart is happy being Carleton Place's mom and pop brew shop.
"We're not trying to be the next biggest brewery in Ontario. Because to do that requires a different type of business than what we are."
And with the valley's palette now wet, customers can continue to expect more variety.
"I don't think we're at the maximum amount of breweries," says Rieux. "You're going to see more come up."