By Artyom Zalutskiy
Another exciting brewery is joining Ottawa’s already long list. Shillow Beer Company has recently opened its fixed location in the city, at 1458 Cyrville Road in Gloucester, after seven years of functioning as a contract brewery out of Toronto.
The brewery was founded by brewmaster Jamie Shillow and her husband, company president Ben Shillow, both of whom have considerable experience in the hospitality industry. Jamie gained a lot of interest and knowledge in beer from working at beer-centric bars and restaurants, which led her to try her hand at home brewing. That hobby eventually led her to enrol in the Niagara College Brewmaster Program and establish the contract brewery after graduating in 2014.
The couple chose to relocate to Ottawa due to it being much more family-friendly than downtown Toronto. They quickly fell in love with the city’s atmosphere, and saw a place for themselves within its growing beer scene.
The pandemic created many challenges for the couple, forcing delays and pivots in their plans. Jamie said that they “originally planned to have a tap room with food, but with restaurants being shut down [they] decided it made more sense to just focus on getting the production side going.”
In addition to its flagship beers Bitter Waitress Black IPA and Beer Snob Belgian Rye Ale, the company has released a lineup of small-batch beers that include Plain Sour Ale, Amber Wheat Ale, Summer IPA, and Brown Ale.
After years of little freedom, mainly brewing just the two longstanding beers noted above, Jamie is excited to experiment and try new things, which you can tell simply by looking at the wide variety in this initial lineup. “Finally being able to have complete control of my processes is something I’ve waited a long time for,” she said. “I’m mostly excited to be able to start trying lots of different styles. I started with a few basic recipes so I could focus on getting to know my new equipment and to develop a core list of beer styles.” In short, Shillow Beer Company doesn’t appear to be a brewery content with only brewing the same things. “I’m one of those brewers that likes to play with ingredients,” Jamie said.
Shillow has already been forced to change many aspects of their brewery due to the pandemic, and they are now demonstrating that they are not afraid to make many more changes to create the best possible brewery. Expect much experimentation to come, along with an eventual core list of beers that may be very different from the one above.
When asked about the future of the company, Jamie responded that their goal is “to be a community-focused company that makes great beer.” Once things begin to settle down and start going back to normal, the couple is excited to continue working on their tap room to one day create a social hub where people can gather with great food and some fantastic beer.
Shillow Beer Company’s beer shop is located at 1458 Cyrville Road. They are open Monday and Tuesday 12–6pm, Wednesday and Thursday 12–7pm, and Friday 12-5pm and closed on weekends.