Craving a can of Long Pond Lager? Look no further than one of two LCBOs in Chatham-Kent.
The folks at Bayside Brewing Co. are all smiles these days after learning the LCBOs on Wellington Street in Chatham and on Marlborough Street in Blenheim – along with a number of agency grocery stores in small communities in the region – will carry cans of Bayside’s beer.
The Chatham downtown location and the agency stores, including the Pain Court Market and Erieau Marina, feature all four Bayside beverages – Long Pond Lager, Lighthouse Lager, Honey Cream Ale and Bronzeback. Blenheim’s LCBO will just carry Long Pond.
Expansion to other LCBOs in the region could come quickly.
Nancy Cowan, one of the co-owners of Bayside, said it’s been a long effort to get their beer into the liquor stores.
“Our strategy has been to go down the craft (beer) path with the LCBO,” she said. “We’ve been working on this for two years.”
Cowan said the LCBO has a lengthy process before approving a product for its shelves, including a label review, product review and tasting.
“They carry thousands of products, sourced globally. They have a high degree of quality control,” she said. “You have to meet all their value tests.
“We’ve run the marathon, but it was well worth it.”
Owned by Cowan, Ken Royal, Frank Thompson, and Josette deBrouwer, Bayside has come a long way since it opened in the summer of 2012, brewing beer and serving food and beverages on a side patio of its Erieau location.
“Our original goal was to make an investment in Chatham-Kent that kept us busy and stimulated the local economy a bit,” Cowan said. “It’s just taken off like crazy. We’re still investing everything we make right back into it because it’s growing so fast.”
It’s not just the beer that keeps Bayside ownership and staff hopping, as the restaurant attracts a crowd.
“We thought it would be a little spot to have a pint,” she said of the brew pub. “But we’re busy all year.”
The success is thanks to everyone involved, Cowan said.
“There has been a lot of hard work. We have a great team here,” she said of Bayside personnel.
As for the future, Cowan said there are many options. With Bayside beers going into provincial liquor outlets in the region, she said production will increase.
“We’re going to have to revisit the business plan.”
Bayside currently has its beer canned offsite, at 1,000 litres a batch, a couple of times a week.
They will soon be at capacity with the onsite craft brewery. Options are to stay the course with what they have, or look at expansion, possibly in Erieau, Blenheim or perhaps even Chatham.
For now, Cowan said they’ll enjoy the moment of getting their beer into LCBOs.
“It actually hasn’t sunk in yet,” she said of the accomplishment. “Maybe when we walk into the LCBO and see our made-in-Chatham-Kent product on the shelf.”
As the Bayside cans rolled into the downtown Chatham LCBO Friday afternoon, store manager Darren Lopes and beer ambassador Rob Shaw were happy to put the product on their shelves.
“People for the last two years have been asking for it,” Lopes said of the locally brewed beverages. “Going into the cottage season, it’s going to be flying out of here.”