Ontario entrepreneur brews success
Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
OWEN SOUND, ONTARIO — At 26 years of age Spencer Wareham is one of the youngest brewery owners in Canada.
His company, Kilannan Brewing Company Ltd., produces outstanding beer and that’s thanks to Wareham’s passionate exuberance. His enthusiasm becomes evident early in our conversation as he shares his story, explaining with pride how he knew the direction his life was going to take him long before he was legally able to drink.
“There’s a loophole in the law. You can legally drink at any age in Ontario, as long as you have parental consent,” Wareham says with a beaming smile.
“Really?” I reply, somewhat surprised. “That can’t be true. Can it?”
“Yes,” replies Wareham without losing a step or his grin for that matter. “If your parents are present, you’re allowed to have a glass of wine at dinner. They can’t go to jail for that. So there’s a loophole for that. And there’s no real law around making your own beer. So it kind of fits into that whole loophole and luckily my parents were cool enough with it. They saw me (brewing) as more of like a hobby or passion, not just making big jugs of beer and going out and chugging them down.”
Well, I am not a lawyer or police officer and I don’t pretend to be an expert on provincial drinking laws except for the obvious don’t-drink-and-drive rule, but I did reach out to the Ontario Provincial Police and it seems Wareham’s take on the law is pretty accurate — all things in moderation, of course.
Ontario Beer With A Grey County Twist
Located in Owen Sound in the heart of Grey County, Kilannan’s name is a blend of two small towns nearby, Kilsyth and Annan. Wareham’s entrepreneurial spirit, devotion to exceptional beer and ambition to be one of the best in the country at what he does is clear. Don’t think Kilannan Brewing is a novelty or phase for the young man, either. Wareham has earned the respect of seasoned beer drinkers and producers in Canada and the United States — not to mention the hearts of the residents of Owen Sound, a city of about 21,000 people near to picturesque Georgian Bay.
Wareham won two gold medals in 2014 and 2015 from the Ontario Brewing Awards for the New Zealand Red Ale, a silver in 2016 for Kilannan’s Cucumber Kölsch, and the young entrepreneur of the year award from the Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce in 2014 and 2016.
“I’ve been brewing since I was 17,” said Wareham, who explained his beers can be purchased at his brewery, but only the Altbier and Cucumber Kölsch are currently listed for sale at the LCBO and The Beer Store. “I get tons of great feedback all the time. We get people emailing who have tried it, I had some guy up in Tobermory email who said he bought six cases and took it back to the States. So yes, we get overwhelmingly positive feedback about the beer and the store.”
If you’re in Grey County make a point to visit the brewery and taste what Kilannan has to offer. I enjoyed The Men Who Stare At Oats (Oatmeal Stout), a seasonal favourite brewed with flaked oats that add a beautiful creaminess to the body and helps support the roasted malt character. I also gave The Aussie (Australian-hopped pale ale) a try and I was impressed. Brewed with only Australian hops, The Aussie is described by Kilannan as an unfiltered pale ale with an intense aroma of citrus and tropical fruit that also carries over to the beer’s flavour. The hop character and bitterness is supported by a blend of Canadian, German and British malts.
While it is a great story to be one of the country’s youngest brewery owners, Wareham knows drinkers are not going to buy his beer unless it’s cutting edge and unique.
“The story behind the brewery, that’s a great hook, it gets people interested. But then you have to have the product,” Wareham says. “The thing with craft-brewing enthusiasts is that they always want to try something different. So that’s basically how we stay ahead of the curve, always brewing new beers like the new IPA we have on the go. So I like to have at least one new beer every month coming out of these new tanks. I keep my hands pretty full. But that’s what I have to do, create different beers. That’s kind of the fun with brewing, you get to be pretty creative with all these new styles.”
MORE ABOUT KILANNAN BREWING COMPANY LTD.
Address: 103015 Grey County Rd 18
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 12-5 pm
Thursday-Friday 10 am-5 pm
Saturday from 9:30 am – 5 pm
MORE ABOUT OWEN SOUND TOURISM
Phone: 1-888-675-5555 or 519-376-4440 ext. 1245
MORE ABOUT GREY COUNTY TOURISM