Shovels hit the ground for Manitoulin Brewing Co. facility in Little Current

The Manitoulin Brewing Company’s brewery building on Highway 6 in Little Current is now under construction. Partners Nishin Meawasige, Blair Hagman and Joet Phatt are joined by brewmaster Mack Lewis and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha for a ground-breaking ceremony outside the building being renovated on the Little Current Lions’ Haweater Weekend. photo by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT—Construction of the new Manitoulin Brewing Company facility on Highway 6 in Little Current is underway and the three partners were joined by the company’s brewmaster and the MPP for Algoma Manitoulin for a tour of the facility.

“What better way to start Haweater Weekend,” said Algoma Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha, “than to be here at the future site of the Manitoulin Brewing Company’s retail outlet. This will benefit not only Little Current, but the whole Island and help create a tourist destination. The beer has a wonderful taste and these types of businesses being created by young entrepreneurs’ points to a positive future for the region.”

“We really wanted to launch the construction on Haweater Weekend,” noted partner Blair Hagman, who along with Nishin Meawasige realized their dream of launching a craft brewery with the introduction of the company’s ‘Swing Bridge’ signature blond ale last year. “We are celebrating the building of our full scale brewery and we plan to start brewing in this facility as soon as possible.”

The brewhouse and retail outlet is expected to be completed by mid-September of this year.

“You couldn’t ask for a better location,” pointed out Mr. Hagman. “We looked at a number of locations in Little Current, but when this location became available it was perfect.”

With the summer ferry link to the Bruce Peninsula through Highway 6, a huge sampling of the target market for the beer travels right past the doorstep of the new brewery, which will be offering tours when it is complete.

“We appreciate the support of the local community and Manitoulin Island as well,” said Mr. Meawasige. “The licenced establishments across the Island have been supportive as well.” The brewery has established deep inroads into the restaurants and other licenced venues since they announced their products were available, feeding into the trend for local beers that has swept North America in recent years.

“The response across the North has been fantastic as well,” said partner Joet Phatt, who came on board when the original partners sought out his marketing company to promote their brands. “We look forward to expanding and helping tourists to get to know the Island.”

The wide ranging marketing and branding campaign the company has been engaged in has the added bonus of helping to promote Manitoulin, even as it leverages the Island’s own brand as a tourism mecca.

Brewmaster Mack Lewis, who was instrumental in assisting Mr. Hagman and Mr. Meawasige in bringing their vision (and taste) to fruition in the form of scalable recipes, was also on hand for the construction start.

This is the second year that Swing Bridge blonde ale has been featured at the Lions Haweater Weekend’s Hawfest Dance and ball tournament, where it has proven to be a winner.