Thirst for craft brew has business booming at Bayside

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Bayside Brewing Co. owners, from left, Ken Royal, Nancy Cowan, Frank Thompson and Josette DeBrouwer celebrated their business' grand opening Feb. 12 in Erieau. On tap for their future is an expansion of their craft brewery to double capacity, and the addition of a patio with a view of Rondeau Bay and seating for about 60 patrons.
Bayside Brewing Co. owners, from left, Ken Royal, Nancy Cowan, Frank Thompson and Josette DeBrouwer celebrated their business’ grand opening Feb. 12 in Erieau. On tap for their future is an expansion of their craft brewery to double capacity, and the addition of a patio with a view of Rondeau Bay and seating for about 60 patrons.

Windsor’s loss last April is truly Chatham-Kent’s gain.

I’m talking about the demise of Charly’s Brew Pub in Windsor and the birth of Bayside Brewing Co. in Erieau.

We couldn’t have one without the loss of the other, you see.

Bayside snagged the brewery equipment, including the copper beer vats, from Charly’s. But more importantly, Bayside also made off with brewmaster Mike Dumouchelle, the mastermind behind Long Pond Lager, the brewery’s tasty product.

Bayside held its official grand opening Feb. 12, although it has been producing beer since last July. But the building on Ross Lane has undergone a massive transformation as well.

The structure was once home to the Tiltin’ Hilton, and had seen better days when Bayside took it over. Owners Frank Thompson, Josette DeBrouwer, Ken Royal and Nancy Cowan have invested about $1 million to date in the business, Thompson said.

“We wanted to start a fun business and bring something different to Chatham-Kent, employ folks and invest in the community,” he said.

A great deal of work went into refurbishing the building, which is now home to a restaurant as well, Bayside BrewPub.

The concept actually began a year ago in Thompson and DeBrouwer’s kitchen, where DeBrouwer said all four gathered to make a small batch of home brew to see if it was feasible.

Since then, they’ve sold more than 17,000 glasses of their lager on site alone, Cowan said.

I think they found their niche.

They also sell beer to restaurants as close as Molly and OJ’s across the street to as far away as Sarnia; 21 establishments in all, and the number keeps growing.

“When we opened in July, Molly and OJ’s and The Sandbar were some of our very first customers,” Thompson said.

Demand for Long Pond is now so great that Bayside purchased five more brewing vats, slated for delivery later this month. The added vats will double the brewery’s capacity to 200 kegs a month, Thompson said.

For the citizen who would like to take the Bayside beverage home, most of us will have to wait. They sell beer in a growler – a two-litre glass jug. Purchase a full jug on your initial visit, and bring it back for refills when desired.

The problem is this concept was so successful, Bayside sold out of growlers. The owners have since ordered another delivery.

Seating at Bayside, specifically the number of chairs, is in need of improvement as well, something the owners are already addressing. Plans are in the works to build a patio that will seat 60 overlooking Rondeau Bay.

Bayside is becoming quite the destination place for Erieau. The owners, as well as fellow business owners, couldn’t be happier.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Josette and Frank,

    Congratulations on your “Fe-brew-ery” Grand Opening! Fantastic news for the community. Way to fulfill a dream!

    • Thanks, Jim. Not sure how the story could be covered hours earlier, rather than actually being there during the event. Then again, it’s not even in today’s paper….

  2. Frank
    This is one great story. What an exciting business concept bringing this to fruition! All the best to you and your partners .
    Cheers
    Mark

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