Think local, drink local: Smiths Falls opens its first microbrewery
Five years ago Nick Ritchie and Andrew Howard sat down at a small restaurant in downtown Smiths Falls and made a decision: come hell or high water they would build the town’s first licensed microbrewery.
Together with the help of their families, friends and eventual co-owners Joe Adams, Chris Haines and Tim Vandermeer – 4 Degrees Brewing Company was born. Their first official pint was poured back in 2016, and in the fall of this year their doors were officially opened to the public.
“Many hands make light work,” Ritchie maintains, who says that all those involved with the brewery, particularly their wives and children (most of the brewery owners are married with young kids) have contributed something key to the business.
Since 4 Degrees’ self-serve store and brew pub opened their doors, steady streams of curious neighbors have been rolling through each day to sample the product and learn more about the business. Co-owner Andrew Howard firmly believes that the “ideal temperature” to serve a beer is at four degrees Celsius, hence the brewery name.
A cornerstone philosophy behind their business is that they do all they can to support do-good clubs, organizations and public services throughout the local community. Since opening, 4 Degrees says they’ve already hosted several charity events including a private fundraiser for the local public library and one for the Rideau Lakes Skating Club.
4 Degrees’ four flagship brews can already be found on tap at two bars in Ottawa as well as at pubs and bars across Perth, Kingston, Merrickville, Spencerville and Cornwall. The team says they hope to expand further but stress that serving Smiths Falls, their hometown, is their top priority. “We’re staying regional,” Ritchie says.
“The main thing is all of us have a vested interest in Smiths Falls,” says Howard. “We all live here, all of our kids go to school here, and we’re all [volunteer] firefighters here.”
For a town with a somewhat shaky reputation as the ‘Little Chicago’ of the Ottawa Valley, Smiths Falls has seen its fair share of economic hardships over the years. But since Canopy Growth Corporation, formerly Tweed Inc., opened up in the old Hershey Chocolate Factory and young Brooke and Brittany Henderson took the golf world by storm, with Brooke representing Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, there’s an all-new pride and energy around town for the first time in years.
“We love this place and it’s had its struggles with lots of industry leaving,” says Howard. “But you can just sit and watch it go by, or you can do something about it.”
Small town living certainly has its appeal–particularly when there’s great local beer on tap.