B R E W E RY P R O F I L E
Even though the couple had no previous experience brewing
beer, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work on refurbish-ing
the fire hall and assembling a team. The Manzies and three
other partners, some of whom are family members, borrowed
most of the required $2.4 million to create the 270-seat taproom.
They lucked out and found a German-brewing system which they
imported from South Korea.
After almost three years of renovating and planning, Lake of
the Woods Brewing Company opened to the public on June 29,
2013. Just a week after opening the doors, Manzie knew his role as
CEO and president would involve finding ways to expand capacity
to meet the demand for the product.
Craft breweries pop up and then disappear, but the team at
Lake of the Woods Brewing Company brewed up some long-lasting
success. “We have a very creative brewing team,” Manzie said. “We
have made around 70 different recipes to date. Many of the recipes
are inspired by ingredients available in the region. Not every recipe
is a hit, but some are so successful that we can’t seem to make
enough to meet our customers’ demand.”
Manzie’s nephew, Joshua Manize, is LOWBrewCo’s head brew-er
who created and fine-tuned flagship beers such as Sultana
Gold blonde ale, Firehouse brown ale, Channel Marker light lager,
Forgotten Lake blueberry ale, Nautical Disaster dry-hopped IPA
and Lakeside Kolsch. The flagship beers are available in cans and
on tap at many restaurants and pubs in Ontario, Manitoba, and
Minnesota, all of which are listed on the company website.
Kenora is a seasonal town and the population swells from
15,000 to about 50,000 during the summer. During the peak season,
Lake of the Woods Brewing Company employs around 140 people
and around 80 people from October to May.
Manzie attributes much of the success to his team. “Attracting
talent is always a challenge, but a company is a sum of its parts,” he
said. “When we find good people, they drive the business forward.
That’s why we don’t give people jobs; we give them opportunities
to have careers – and we pay well.” Two of the brewers moved from
South Africa and Nigeria for the opportunities, and some of the
employees have been with the company from day one.
Expanding and entering new markets
Good beer can’t be contained by geographical borders. Once
Americans got a taste, they too had an appetite for Lake of the
Woods Brewing Company’s beers. To meet that demand, Manzie
partnered with the Minnesota-owned Warroad brewery. The
Kenora team shared their recipes with the U.S.-based brewery and
extended the “LOWBrewCo” brand. As with the Kenora location,
the Warroad brewery operates out of a refurbished fire hall with a
taproom that accommodates around 80 people. Since opening the
doors on June 1, 2019, the microbrewery has been a hit with locals
Closer to home, Lake of the Woods Brewing Company will
be building a carbon-neutral facility to expand brewing capacity.
In 2019, of the 9,000 hectolitres produced, roughly 4,000 to 6,000
hl were co-brewed in southern Ontario. “We want to bring all the
brewing back to Kenora and create more job opportunities for the
region,” Manzie said.
In March, Greg Rickford, the Minister of Energy, Northern
Development and Mines, visited Lake of the Woods Brewing
Company to announce the company will receive $1 million, made
up of a loan and grant portion, to expand its current brewing
wholesale and commercial operations by setting up an additional
brewing manufacturing facility in town. The expansion will cre-ate
24 full-time jobs and give the company the increased capacity
required to meet the demand for craft beer products.
In the news release announcing the funding, the Ontario
Government estimated that the craft beer industry contributes
approximately $1 billion towards the province’s economy annu-ally
and employs thousands of people in direct brewery jobs and
thousands more in indirect jobs in sectors such as tourism, food
service, agriculture, and packaging and distribution.
Lake of the Woods Brewing Company will refurbish part of a
71,000-square-foot building that was formerly owned by pulp-and-paper
company Abitibi-Consolidated. Construction will begin this
fall and the facility will be built to LEED standards with completion
slated for the fall of 2020.
Manzie has always admired Alaskan Brewing Co.’s goal to
have a zero-net negative effect on the environment by reclaim-ing
and reusing as much waste and emissions as they produce.
As an environmentally-responsible brewery, Lake of the Woods
Brewing Company’s new facility in Kenora will include sustain-able
features. “We won’t be able to get off the grid, but we will be
smart about heat and water recovery. We have to be responsible,”
14 § POURED CANADA § www.poured.ca