Manitoulin’s Split Rail Brewery to locate in Gore Bay

GORE BAY—Gore Bay’s gain is Billings’ loss, as the entrepreneurs behind the proposed Split Rail Brewery recently announced that they would be setting up their manufacturing facility in Gore Bay, hopefully launching the facility in the summer of 2015.

“We had the opportunity to open up/launch in Gore Bay and it is what we feel is a really good fit,” said Andy Smith, co-owner of Split Rail along with Eleanor Charlton. “Having the building secured is a big relief. It is across from the Gore Bay Harbour Centre building and we are very excited to get started in this location.”

Ms. Smith described the location as “just about ideal” being on the water. “We have been looking for a location for about four years,” she said. “It has been a very long process.”

Billings council had hoped to add the business to its community, but in the end it was not to be.

“We knew last summer really,” said Billings Mayor Austin Hunt. “But it was only in September that we knew for sure it was going to be in Gore Bay.” Although he admitted some disappointment, Mayor Hunt was philosophical about the decision. “We always knew that they were looking at other places,” he said, adding that all was not lost. “They are looking at perhaps setting up a sales office or something.”

Mayor Hunt said that the town was aware that locating the facility in Kagawong would be a challenge. “They went so far as to look at what a building would cost,” he said. “We talked with provincial and federal agencies about what we could do.”

The requirements of the brewery were a challenge, however. “The building in Gore Bay has really high ceilings as I understand,” he said. “There are not many communities on the Island that have the kind of building that would accommodate the delivery trucks and that sort of thing.”

Ms. Smith made it clear in a letter to Billings council that the company was grateful for their support.

“We’re targeting the summer of 2015 to launch (the manufacturing facility),” Ms. Smith told the Recorder. “Although there is any number of hurdles that could mean changing this date. “We’re still sourcing financing, and final licencing approvals and are looking for investors. We are getting close, but we still have a ways to go. But we’re excited about the business and locating in Gore Bay.”

The brewery has settled on their inaugural brew, a lager, but they also have a couple of other recipes in development. “One is a hawberry wheat beer, but that is proving a challenge in sourcing a supply of hawberries,” said Ms. Smith. “We have been involved in some very intensive research in perfecting those recipes.”

One thing that isn’t in short supply is offers to help taste test the brew. “No taste testers are not in short suppl