By Connor Lynch
BATH — Seven years of working away from the family farm and Ivan MacKinnon was feeling the pull to go back home, as was his brother, Daniel. But the idea of expanding the Bath-area crop farm, northwest of Kingston, to make room for the pair didn’t much appeal to them.
So Ivan, a mechanical engineer by trade, and Daniel, who has a master’s degree in brewing and distilling from the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, decided to launch a local brewery on the farm, converting a century barn into the brewery and growing their own hops, wheat, and barley for the beer.
They started their on-farm brewery in 2014 and last year launched a 100 per cent farm-sourced beer and scooped up a $5,000 premier’s award for agri-food innovation excellence.
Ivan splits his time between working with their father, Mike, on the farm and with his brother on the brewery. The farm is older than Canada and has been in the family for more than 200 years. They grow 1,300 acres of soybeans, wheat, hops, barley, and certified seed.
Starting a brewery on farm was a way to diversify the on-farm operations. “We both liked beer,” said Ivan. “ And it was a good market opportunity because we both saw the demand for craft beer. It was an opportunity for us to do something unique because there wasn’t anybody in Ontario growing ingredients on-farm (to produce their own) beer.”
The brothers already have bottles in the LCBO and over 100 taps across the province, but they still do most of their business locally, with 80 per cent of the beer they make being sold within 50 km of the brewery, thanks to nearby Kingston, said Ivan.