by John Pattee

GORE BAY—Split Rail Brewing Co. held a fall festival October 20, allowing beer enthusiasts to enjoy a pint and some local eats while taking in the sights of the Gore Bay waterfront.

“This is our first time having a fall fest,” said marketing and projects coordinator Jaime Kalmikov. “It’s especially important at this time of year to support the local community and vendors by connecting multiple people.”

It was an exciting day for a company with a very young history. Split Rail Brewing officially began operations just over three years ago, run by close friends Andrea Smith and Eleanor Charlton. Since then, they’ve been hosting seasonal events as a way to promote new blends of beer and welcome customers from around Manitoulin and the rest of the province.

However, this event wasn’t just about Split Rail’s own products, it was also about providing others with a platform. “The cross-collaborations and support of each of our local businesses is pretty huge,” said Split Rail co-founder Andrea Smith.

An example of this came from one of the dishes being served on the brewery’s patio. As production manager Brent Pottage pointed out, “Burt’s Farm [Country Meats] makes Manitoulin gold sausage, and he’s using one of our beers of the same name as one of the ingredients. So, we support them, and they support us. We think that’s really important to do.”

Another vendor, Ted Smith of Gypsy Family Farms, discussed the benefits of attending a seasonal event like this.

“It’s just a nice outlet for stuff to go out while the farmers’ markets are shut down,” said Mr. Smith. “You get to join the festival and move some product that would normally sit on the shelf all winter.”

Attendees were also treated to an acoustic brewhouse performance from Island musician Lori Gordon. Live music has been a staple at Split Rail functions thus far.

For those who could not attend this fall’s event, Split Rail said it doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. “We’ll continue to have these every season,” said Ms. Kalmikov. “We’ll have a Christmas open house, then a ‘winter warmup’ around February. We try to do an event every couple of months to keep engaged with the community and give everyone something to do on weekends.”

What made this event truly special, according to Mr. Smith, was that “everyone here has a beer in their hand and a smile on their face.”