The idea originally came to Brian Doig in 2017. A building previously housing a Canada Post sorting facility became available in Terrace Bay, and it worked perfectly for a craft brewing spot. Doig has a background in IT, but has had a passion for home brewing on the side.
The result was Slate Island Brewing Co.
Slate Island’s most standout beers so far? Doig says the Kolsch is one of the most popular and the lager is also in high demand. Their stout is distinct, with notes of oak and vanilla. A summer favourite this year has been a glass of the stout, topped with vanilla ice cream.
“Like most good ideas, it was done on a dare," Doig said. "It’s turned out really well. We sold out quite quickly on our first run of stout.”
The brewery opened on St Patrick’s Day in 2021 but with rolling COVID restrictions, they didn’t have a long continuous operation.
Now that things have normalized, the business is returning to its original plan of growlers, howlers and expanding distribution. Over the next few years, they also hope to start bottling and canning their beers for distribution to specialty food stores and other locations.
Slate Island currently employs a small crew of about six staff members - three on the brew team, and two who run the taproom, with plans to hire on more staff soon. In this stage of their operations, they're now also expanding into local bars and restaurants.
The idea is to work with those venues to “develop a beer that will be uniquely theirs, and will compliment their food well,” Doig explains. "Currently we have our Kolsch available at Drifters, a local restaurant here in Terrace Bay, and I think it compliments their Italian menu quite well.”
Slate Island uses small volume batches of beer to experiment with unique flavours, like a ‘Caezer,’ a beer version of a Caesar. or orange-flavoured beer to replicate a creamsicle.
"We try to make our beer as appealing to as many people as possible, because Terrace Bay is a small market," Doig explains. “When you come in, you don’t necessarily have to have a beer flavoured beer to enjoy. You may find something more of a cocktail variety you might like.”
Doig expressed gratitude to the Township of Terrace Bay and the locals for their support. The brewery offers a members club, which meets Thursday nights.
Members get their own personalized and monogrammed beer mug and the chance to join a wall of VIP members, who can come and drink beer out of their own personalized mugs.
“It is a way of thanking our regulars, and there’s also people who are tracking through once a year, who want their name on the wall.”
People following the Ale Trail (a circle route around Lake Superior highlighting different spots along the way for great craft brewing) will be pleased to know that the gap from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste Mari, where there were no craft breweries, is now filled with a new stop in Terrace Bay.
Visitors can check out the brewery on their next trip along Superior'r North Shore at 9 Simcoe Plaza, Terrace Bay.