New beer on tap

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON News Staff

RURBAN BREW: Andy Rorabeck stands in front of the fer­men­tors at his fledg­ling brew­ery in Corn­wall. The Green Val­ley res­i­dent and Char-Lan District High School teacher hopes to have his brew­ery, which he will call Rurban, up and run­ning this spring.

Beer lovers re­joice. A brand new brew­ery is start­ing up in Corn­wall and it’s be­ing over­seen by a pop­u­lar sci­ence teacher at Char-Lan District High School.

Andy Rorabeck, 42, says he’s been dream­ing about open­ing his own brew­ery for a num­ber of years but he only got se­ri­ous about it in 2013 when, he de­ter­mined, the mar­ket was ready for a new brew­ery in Corn­wall. He got a loan from Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Canada, added that to his sav­ings, and set out to chase his dream.

So far, the 2,500-square-foot shop on Cum­ber­land Street is a work in progress. He’s got most of his ma­chin­ery in place – four fer­men­tors, two brite tanks and a three-ves­sel brew­house (all cus­tom made in China) – but there’s still plenty of work to be done. Other pieces, like a can­ning unit, will ar­rive soon.

If all things go ac­cord­ing to plan, he hopes to have the brew­ery up and run­ning in April.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” he says. “I need to get some per­mits, have some con­struc­tion and go through two lev­els of govern­ment.”

One thing’s for sure though, he won’t be lack­ing for peo­ple in­ter­ested in his prod­uct. Ask him how many restau­rant and pub own­ers have ex­pressed in­ter­est in his prod­uct and he’ll re­ply that the more per­ti­nent ques­tion is how many draft ac­counts will he be able to take on.

“I should be able to take on half a dozen draft ac­counts,” he says.

The brew­ery will sell canned beer at the store and also ship kegs to var­i­ous restau­rants. And what’s the name of this brew­ery? “Rurban,” Mr. Rorabeck says, ex­plain­ing that the name is a port­man­teau of ru­ral and ur­ban.

As for what the beer it­self will be called, Mr. Rorabeck says he hasn’t de­cided yet. He is plan­ning on brew­ing 16 dif­fer­ent kinds of beer ev­ery year – four for each sea­son – although he doesn’t plan on us­ing spices or sug­ars to flavour his beer as other brew­eries do. His beer­mak­ing phi­los­o­phy is more tra­di­tional; he plans on em­pha­siz­ing beer’s ba­sic in­gre­di­ents.

“There are dozens of types of hops and yeast,” he ex­plains. “And there’s plenty of things you can do with your wa­ter too.”

At the on­set, Mr. Rorabeck will be the brew­ery’s sole em­ployee. He has the skillset to do it, he says, as he ran a small brew­ery from his home in Green Val­ley and he’s also com­pleted the Beer Judge Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Pro­gram out of the United States.

Even so, he’s not too ea­ger to do any prog­nos­ti­cat­ing, say­ing he just wants to get the brew­ery up and run­ning be­fore he con­cerns him­self too much with the fu­ture.

“More than 95 per cent of the beer mar­ket is con­trolled by the con­glom­er­ates,” he says. “Craft brew­eries have less than five per cent.”

Tap­ping a growth mar­ket

But de­spite this small mar­ket share, these small craft brew­eries ac­count for al­most 30 per cent of the brew­ing in­dus­try jobs in On­tario.

Ac­cord­ing to On­tario Craft Brew­ers (OCB), the in­dus­try has cre­ated more than 5,000 jobs – both di­rectly and in­di­rectly – and has an an­nual eco­nomic im­pact of more than $400 mil­lion.

OCB me­dia con­tact Chris­tine Mulkins says craft beer con­tin­ues to be the fastest grow­ing seg­ment within the LCBO’s beer cat­e­gory, grow­ing at any­where from 20 to 30 per cent per year.

Mr. Rorabeck is op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture. He says that the com­mu­nity has been very sup­port­ive of his new ini­tia­tive and that a num­ber of peo­ple even stepped for­ward to help move the equip­ment into his new home and, in his words, “keep me sane.”

STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON PHOTO

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