This weekend Dominion City Brewing Company will be celebrating its First Anniversary!
Doesn’t it seem like the was a dearth of breweries in Ottawa but a few years ago? Now Ottawa and region is home to more than 20 breweries. To get noticed in an increasingly busy market, you have to offer something special. DCBC has been able to do just that. Through quality brews and great customer service, the brewery has been able to elevate its game and carve itself a nice niche in the Ottawa beer scene, while expanding its reach and increasing production. It’s crazy to think they have only been in business for a year. We turned to brewer and co-founder Josh McJannet to get a quick rundown on the highlights from year 1.
apt613: Tell us about your growth over the past year – Are you surprised by your success?
DCBC: It’s felt like a crazy adventure since we first welcomed folks into the bottleshop last August. We’re grateful that so many other people are riding along with us on it. From the start Dominion City has felt like a community-built brewery and it still does. Ottawa craft beer drinkers are hands down the most passionate, most evangelical and increasingly, the most sophisticated in the country.
apt613: Last year you told us this decision to start a brewery all stemmed from a session among buddies at Vineyards Wine Bar and Bistro. You’re now on tap there (and across Ottawa). What’s it like walking into a familiar pub and seeing your bright blue tap proudly displayed?
DCBC: The novelty has yet to wear off. We’ve been humbled by the number of amazing chefs, restaurateurs and bar owners who’ve come on board and supported us. Consumer demand is a big factor behind craft beer’s growth in Ottawa, to be sure, but it wouldn’t be possible on this scale if the folks who decide what to pour weren’t getting on board. This city has an incredible local food scene and great people behind it. We love being part of it.
apt613: DCBC opened the doors with three staple brews: Earl Grey Marmalade Saison, Two Flags IPA and Town & Country. How many new styles have you added to the repertoire? How many are now staples?
DCBC: We still brew our three original mainstays and we’ve added Earnscliffe ESB to the roster of beers we commit to making available year-round. Our customers always want to try something new and experimenting with different styles and ingredients is what we love to do. We’ve really enjoyed working with Belgian styles–Seigneurial Saison is a tart, 100 per cent Ontario Nugget-hopped farmhouse ale we’ve been brewing through the Summer and our wet-hopped Belgian IPA, ‘Land Is Strong’ will be back mid-September. We’ve brewed more than 20 beers since our launch and we’re constantly piloting new recipes.
apt613: You guys have thrown a couple barnburners this year – including the wildly successful Dominion Day. Recap some of your favourite events this year and give us a sneak peak of next year.
DCBC: Dominion Day was our attempt to smash quirky-Canadiana, amazing local food, and great live music together for the most craft beer-infused July 1st party anywhere. We weren’t sure what to expect or if folks would get on board, but in the end we sold out and had a blast in the process. We’re already thinking about plans for 2016. In terms of what’s next, we love pairing delicious, locally-sourced food with our beers and working with passionate chefs and producers to do it. More to come on that soon!
apt613: You’ve made big upgrades to your Canotek shop. Tell us about your new bigger system versus the original setup.
DCBC: We quadrupled our capacity last January, less than six months into operation. We found by early last Fall we just weren’t able to make enough beer to keep up with demand. Our customers were amazingly understanding, but we knew standing still wasn’t an option. Now we’re able to brew more often and we’ve got more flexibility to do things like release four new beers on a single day, like we did at Dominion Day.
apt613: What’s next?
DCBC: The most important thing for us now is staying focused and remembering what got us into this in the first place; making quality, delicious, exciting beer that emphasizes a connection with the people and the land that make it possible. The gameplan from here is to do even more of it.
Congrats to Dominion City on what is hopefully (and likely) the first of many successful anniversaries! Make sure to check out their celebration this weekend and to sample the Beacon Hill-inspired Beacon Ale!