Bayside Brewing Co.

Erieau is known for its great sport fishing, fantastic beach and laid-back atmosphere. And now people are getting to know the lakeside community better for its local beer — Long Pond Lager.

Welcome to ‘The Eau’ and Bayside Brewing Company.

Ken Royal, Nancy Cowan, Frank Thompson and Josette deBrouwer are behind the operation on Ross Lane that includes a micro-brewery, retail area, tasting room and BrewPub.

With a bit of spit and polish, they’ve taken the former ‘Tilt ‘N’ Hilt ‘N’ Hotel from an inglorious decline to a place where friends and family can meet over cold beer and light snacks. And it’s all been done with the support and encouragement of the villagers.

“It’s just been fantastic,” Royal said.

“The people of Erieau have been incredibly supportive and have bent over backwards to help us.”

DeBrouwer said she and her husband had been throwing around the idea of starting a brewery for some time, but were involved in other ventures. When they were ready to seriously consider it, they called on Cowan to help them put together a business plan.

Cowan and Royal had recently retired to Erieau, having moved here from Oakville to be closer to Cowan’s parents and brother. Their research took them to numerous small breweries in Ontario and Quebec, and they always brought home plenty of product for the four to try. As Cowan and Royal settled into village life, they saw a perfect opportunity in front of them.

“Our objectives were to create local employment, find an investment that utilized local talent and our collective strengths, and have work that was fun,” Cowan said.

“We are doing just that!”

The ball really got rolling when they learned that a Windsor businessman was closing down his bar and looking for a buyer for his in-house brewing equipment.

“It just all fell into place after that,” Cowan said.

The pressure to find a suitable home for the brewery grew once the equipment was purchased. Cowan and Royal had noticed the grey building on the corner of Ross Lane at Vidler Ave., and went out on a limb, calling the former owners to see if they would consider selling.

The building was in need of repair, but it had a couple of things going for it: a great view of the bay, and room to grow.

With the brewing equipment in storage, it was all hands on deck to restore the former hotel and ensure that it was strong enough to support the five copper kettles and other equipment. Family came from far and wide, and it was not uncommon to see Cowan’s parents or Royal’s nephew working at removing the seven layers of flooring.

“I don’t think people realize how old the building is,” Cowan said.

During the renovations, and even after the opening, villagers have been coming by to share stories, photos and memorabilia of the former Lakeside Hotel.

As for the name of the beer, deBrouwer said a local sports fisherman can take the credit for that.

“I was at a backyard barbecue in Chatham, and Dave Thompkins told me about the ‘Long Pond’ that’s out in the bay. He said it’s a great spot for fishing, and since we had a fish in our logo, it made sense to go with that theme.

“It really makes the beer a product of Erieau.”

So come on down to The Eau, where we have a cold Long Pond Lager waiting for you.