The Ottawa Valley and the Pontiac’s Tap and Cork producers are delighted to provide their carefully crafted, delicious beverages – and meals in some cases — to clients during this time of COVID19.
Mind you, all have needed to reassess their services. Accordingly, the Tap & Cork breweries, cideries, wineries and distillers of spirits are looking at their businesses in new, innovative ways. From take-out to deliveries, all these establishments welcome you to contact them, to investigate their times of operation and services.
We’ve all come to understand that there’s nothing as sure as change, especially during these times of restricted travel. Our individual health – and moreover, the public’s health security – is top of mind for us all.
Therefore, here’s my special tip: Before you venture out of your home, first check their social media pages for recent updates or contact the producer by phone, Facebook Messenger, Twitter or e-mail. Ensure they’re open, that the product you want is available, and ask how to pay in advance, via e-transfer or PayPal, for example. In some cases, producers may permit you to use your credit card onsite: simply ask, then everyone’s sure to be safe – and get the products they want.
So who’s doing what, where? Read on.
Six T&C establishments are currently open to welcome you on the Ottawa Valley side of the Ottawa River.
André Rieux is excited to offer us his seasonal brews right now. And of course, because it’s maple syrup season, the new kid on the block at Cartwright Springs Brewery is the Maple Porter (with 7.3% alcohol). With a limited production run of seasonals, the word to the wise is call and order promptly, so you can taste that wonderful bit of Spring that just comes once a year.
Rieux told me, “There’s no water in it, only the maple sap itself, right from the tree. So this is special, and our customers really appreciate this seasonal, real Ottawa Valley taste.”
That’s not all he makes come spring. Also available is Cartwright Springs’ Carbonated Maple Sap. Says Rieux, “I call it ‘Nature’s Energy Drink’ because it contains the maple tree’s own minerals and sugars which makes it a nutritious drink for you.”
Regarding how to order and get your brew? “Of course, we’ve altered our strategy for serving clients,” Rieux explains. “People can drive up, honk or call me on my cell, and shout out what they want. Or, what’s better is to pre-order. We have an online shop where you can order and prepay, then drive over and pick up what you want, curbside.”
Pending the order size, deliveries of $80 or more within an 80 km radius of the brewery are free; all others have a $10.00 fee.
As mentioned above: it’s always advisable to check they’re open before heading out. Call or visit the website, where you’ll find the latest instructions regarding opening hours, ordering, pickup – as well as Twitter and Facebook connections.
This family cidery, where I spoke with Jim Davies, one of Farmgate Cider’s founders who’s also the general manager – and yes, they’re delighted to accept your orders.
Says Davies, “There are no open hours at the Cidery but you can order cider on-line and pick it up. Or, if you live in the Ottawa area we are doing home delivery, and even up the Ottawa Valley we do one delivery run a month as far as Deep River. As a special acknowledgement to our customers, we’ve waived the minimum order size for home delivery.”
He says that these days, ordering and payment is conducted electronically, only, using credit cards, PayPal or e-transfer. If you want, Davies says you have the option of delivery but you can also arrange to drive to Arnprior and pick up the cider yourself, off the cider porch. Call in advance to ensure the order’s been processed and when you arrive at the cidery, call or text so that they’ll be ready for your pickup.
Andrew Kenny is one who honours core beliefs – as anyone who’s read his O’Kenny Craft Spirits’ website already knows. Core belief #2 notes: “Kenny is your local distillery and it is our duty to produce the products that you want.”
No surprise, then, during this current era of COVID19, Kenny aims to add alcohol hand sanitizer to his list of products we can purchase… Distilleries like his are capable of making this because the distillation process used to make O’Kenny’s moonshine, rye whisky, single-malt whisky, and vodka allow the production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
At time of writing (April 3), Health Canada has not yet given the go-ahead to its production, but Kenny anticipates receiving it soon. “And of course, when we get it, we’ll be bottling it in a completely different container than our spirits,” he said.
Check his website’s online shop for this and his other products. Three products – O’Kenny Moonshine, O’Kenny Rye Whisky and Valley Spirit Vodka can all be pre-ordered online, and delivered to addresses within Renfrew County only.
Want to be supportive of this producer? Consider pre-ordering Kenny’s Single Malt Whisky which costs $75.00 – bottling date is February 2022.
President Marc Bru told me, “For sure! We are still in operation, but our brewery and retail store are closed to the public for the time being.”
That’s because Square Timber Brewing Company believe in top-quality service, where customers come first. Said Bru, “We felt it was important to close our retail store for the continued safety of our staff, customers and community as a whole. We have moved all our sales online with free delivery in our general area. All orders and payments are through our online store.”
And just like most brewers, Bru notes that they’re planning brand new beers “for the late spring/early summer season.”
As well, the company is encouraging their customers “to continue supporting our local restaurants that are offering take out and/or delivery options. As a family, we have made it our goal to support at least one of these businesses once per week.”
That’s what the Ottawa Valley’s all about, isn’t it? That pride in community, and in supporting one another’s efforts.
So check out their website and place an order for their hand-hewn ales and lagers.
Thomas Wong, is the president and co-founder of Two Hawks Brewing Company, which is open for business.
He clarified, “Hours vary and most of our sales are pre ordered. But since we are at home where the brewery is people are free to stop by anytime.”
One aspect of the business which has definitely changed due to COVID19 is that they don’t refill returned growlers (jugs) so as to carefully limit what comes into the brewery.
Wong notes, “We are launching an online pre order and curbside pickup soon based on our website and we’ve been accepting more EMT payments as well – although of course, we still continue to take tap debit and credit for our customers’ convenience.”
Whenever they can, Two Hawks partners with local shops for giveaways in order to send them more support and emphasize that buying local is the best way to promote community.
As president and co-founder of Whitewater Brewing Company, Christopher Thompson was delighted to tell me that Whitewater’s Lakeside Brew Pub in Cobden’s “drive-through” is open daily. Times differ slightly: Sunday — Thursday is open from 11:00 — 7:00, whereas Friday — Saturday from 11:00 — 8:00. What’s more, during this difficult period of time, Whitewater is offering free unlimited coffee as well as a free meal to healthcare workers through this drive-through.
Now, anyone who knows Whitewater knows they have a restaurant and offer tours of the brewery, too. Unsurprisingly, these have had to be temporarily closed due to COVID19, but they have plenty of videos on their social media pages to keep you entertained while we all isolate at home.
But Thompson told me, “Luckily, we already had a drive-through program in place, so it was relatively easy for us to adapt to this new business climate. Through our drive-through, guests can order from our take-out menu and purchase beer, merchandise or gift cards.”
“We are also offering a home delivery service in the Ottawa Valley as well as Ottawa, plus reduced shipping rates for the rest of the province. You can order beer and merchandise on our website or call in your food and beer. We are accepting debit/credit and cash/cheque now. The menu can be found here and on our social media pages, at: whitewaterbeer.ca/drivethrough/
And what’s brewing, you ask? There’s a new seasonal that will be ready in May… Thompson’s keeping that a secret for now, so tune in at the end of April to check out what Sean Goddard, the brewmaster, is concocting for us all.
Four establishments are currently open to welcome you on the Pontiac side of the Ottawa River.
Greg Graham is director of a family business named Coronation Hall Cider Mills, which he operates with his parents, Garry and Norma Graham. Their apple products – from ciders to apple pies and cookies – are regional favourites.
Says Greg, “We still make all our products for delivery to local grocery stores and to regional online markets, the Marché de l’Outaouais and Ottawa Valley Food Coop.”
Coronation Hall doesn’t have regular opening hours just now, because they operate “winter hours” until May. However, customers can phone to arrange pickup of goods. Or, the online store published on the website lets us order and have certain products shipped.
Says Greg, “If ‘stay at home’ measures are still in place by May, we’ll extend our ‘winter hours’ practice.”
He adds, “People can place orders by email or by phone, and people can also pay by credit card over the phone.”
Pavel Khol and his wife Maude-Emmanuelle Lambert are owner-operators of the Domaine de Pontiac Village, their home property located immediately east of Quyon and north of the Ottawa River.
As is usual at this time of the year, the winery is closed for the winter-spring season.
In early spring, the couple can be found pruning the vines with their two young children, Ingrid and Anton, who are keenly interested in helping their parents with the grape vines.
During our interview, Khol said, “We usually open for the long weekend in May, and hope that we will do so this year, too. However, if this is not possible or suitable, we will look at other options like a pick-up station or delivery. Agrotourism in times of social distancing is challenging. We intend to come up with something that will still package some fun along with the pleasure of savouring local wine.
“Please do frequently check our website and Facebook sites: we will continue to post the most up-to-date information on how we’re operating!”
Mike Chaput is owner and brewmaster at L’Ancienne Banque, which serves as a restaurant and Brew-Pub in Chapeau on Allumette Island.
“Yes for sure we’re still open for business,” says Chaput. “In fact? It’s been really very good lately: we’ve been very busy. People can pre-order and pick up. Or, they just knock at the door and we’ll take orders. They only come in one person at a time just so as to protect the staff and everyone just now, you know. Then people wait in their cars in the parking lot, and we call when their order’s ready.”
Chaput paints a very homey, supportive scene here – and that’s precisely what customers receive: delicious food and refreshing beer.
Always enthusiastic, Chaput adds, “We’re constantly updating the menu and also, this coming week I reduced the price for growlers: Only $6.00! And of course we like to be supportive so we’re also offering our neighbouring Tap and Cork business, Little Red Wagon Winery’s wine. Some people like a wine with their meal, so we like to accommodate folks here.”
In the next couple of weeks, Chaput’s new beers will be ready, too. “Oh I’ll make those hop-heads happy. I have a very hoppy IPA and also a Belgian Saison. They’ll be ready in the next couple of weeks.”
And yes, Chaput does do local deliveries. “We deliver from Waltham to Sheenboro and all over Allumettes Island. And we’ve been able to meet Ontario residents at the border, too.”
All in all? Give L’Ancienne Banque a call and get such items as fish and chips, hamburgers (check their Facebook page for their new menu) – and of course, a refreshing beer and wine to accompany your meal.
When I called to interview Todd Hoffman, owner-brewer at Brauwerk Hoffman, he said, “Can you call me back in an hour? I’m canning right now!”
Of course, I did – and discovered a relaxed, easy-going chap who’s excited about continuing business through this current, extraordinary situation. Although the brewery itself is not currently open, customers can find all Brauwerk Hoffman beers in local depanneurs, from Portage-du-Fort to Shawville.
“Frankly I’ve been a bit surprised,” he shared. “Our beer sales have gone up, where we’re selling so much through the local depanneurs and grocery stores.”
The run on people’s demand for beer “took us completely off guard,” Hoffman added.
With the microbrewery running at full capacity, he says there is no time for on-site sales or tastings. But of course, during this period of extenuating circumstances, Hoffman said his popular restaurant plus their tasting and merchandise boutique are closed.
Appreciatively, Hoffman said, “When this all blows over, we want to do something special for the hardworking local business men and women who are operating the depanneurs and shops. They’re doing so much for us with our beer – but honestly, doing so much for everyone. We are very grateful for these people remaining open in these challenging weeks and months.”
Jennifer Dale and Scott Judd are the owners/winemakers at Little Red Wagon Winery.
Because their beautiful winery building serves as a restaurant and tasting room – as well as being an increasingly popular destination for live music concerts – they’ve had to close down operation of this side of their business.
Explains Dale, “We are not opening our building at all in an effort to keep everyone safe. However? We’re still selling wine and thrilled to accommodate any requests from our customers.”
Customers can go to their website to make online orders. Otherwise, text or phone them, else use Facebook messenger.
Dale says, “We offer curbside pickup. Payment is made via e-transfer or we can email an invoice to the purchaser. Really we wish to give options so folks can pay by credit or debit.”
How to pick up the wine? The couple sets the ordered wine out on their front porch at the main entry to the winery on the requested pickup date.
In an effort to be helpful, Dale told me that, “In exceptional cases we will deliver nearby. But we just aren’t equipped to offer full delivery at this time. After all, we are also dairy farmers and we have that outfit to run — - and of course, along comes spring pruning so we’re busy here at our farm and winery!”
Is anything new, I asked, with her product line? “No,” She explained. “We are, however, exploring barcodes in an effort to increase distribution to other grocery stores and depanneurs so as to be even more convenient for our clients. Of course, this will take some time for us to accomplish.”
This generous couple who is well-known for supporting local residents hopes to be able to offer some sort of celebratory appreciation for health-care workers after this extraordinary situation is over.
Let’s all join them in hoping this celebration can come before too, too long.