Side Launch Brewing Co. sails again
From the moment of the announcement of the purchase of Collingwood’s Side Launch Brewing Company by London’s Equals Brewing, a company that specializes in co-packing and contract brewing, the reception by beer lovers was one of cautious optimism. The company had been brewery of the year in 2016, and was named the best brewery in the province by the first edition of the Ontario Craft Beer Guide.
“On the first day, when we brought the staff from Equals and Side Launch together, the word was potential,” said Justin McKellar, CEO of Equals. “Our attitude towards the previous ownership is one of grace and gratitude.”
McKellar’s approach has been scientific. With the craft beer market in the province maturing, he’s asking, “Who are we? Who are our consumers, and what do they want?”
The result is a concerted effort to reach out and re-establish Side Launch as a community hub within the Blue Mountain region. The city’s industrial heritage and its everyday outdoor ethos are hallmarks of its character, and vitally important to the people living in Collingwood. The legacy of shipbuilding, represented on the brewery’s cans, is going to play a bigger part of their branding going forward.
Outreach includes an improved experience in the taproom, which has been doubled in size to 180 seats, and a patio that has also been doubled in size. “This is a four season paradise with skiing, biking, sailing, and hiking. The beer has to be great. If we can create the meaning, a reason for people to visit, they’ll keep coming back.”
Speaking of coming back, McKellar intends to resurrect brands that have been successful in the past. “We want to focus on what has worked in the past and resonated with people.” This summer will see the return of the Passionate Sour and Hibiscus Sour in the LCBO. This fall will see the return of Mountain Lager and the Dark Lager. An IPA mixer pack, featuring a Pineapple Sour IPA and West Coast IPA will highlight some of the more innovative products beginning in April.
It looks like a successful second voyage for Side Launch.