A small brewery with a big voice. That’s the mantra for Outspoken Brewing, a micro-craft brewery located in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario since 2011.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with Katie Babcock, Outspoken Brewery’s Brand Ambassador. She told me that the brewery is the brain child of Vaughn Alexander and Graham Atkinson who took their passion of making quality, unique beer from the home brew/hobby level, to the next level, by opening a thriving and growing microbrewing business.
It’s a success story starting with the beer. Their vision included well-crafted, classic-style beverages that would appeal to many different tastes, represent brews that they love, and are enjoyed by a loyal and growing following.
Outspoken brews more than 15 types of beer with four core brands and includes seasonal or specialty beer.
Their core brands include:
Anvil Red Ale – “Strike when it’s hot and cool down with this refreshing Red Ale. Anvil pours deep red in colour with a rich, creamy cap. Medium bodied and appropriately balanced. The caramel malt and hoppy nuances of this beverage will pair well with anything grilled.”
Deadfall Lagered Ale – “A full bodied lagered ale that’s as clean tasting as it is complex. Rich notes of caramel malt are complimented by a crisp but balanced hit of earthy hops. Get into a Deadfall.”
Rabbit’s Foot India Pale Ale – “Our flagship IPA has the perfect burst of hops, well balanced by caramel malt. Spicy, resinous notes, with a smooth, rich finish makes it an ideal companion for those in need of a dose of luck.”
Split Shot Extra Pale Ale – “Crisp. Refreshing. This extra pale ale pairs well with any situation. Light bodied and golden in colour, Split Shot Ale features a moderate hop finish that keeps it just outside of the ordinary.”
They’ll brew seasonal beer like “Donner and Blitzen” at Christmas time, or “Pottswurth Maple Breakfast Stout” for St. Patrick’s Day. The latter is made with St. Joseph Island Coffee.
With every batch they make, a reserve batch is kept separate for a “limited edition brew.” Reserve batches are put into oak barrels to bring out a special taste. For example: “Oak Aged Salinger Rye Pale Ale” is a “whiskey barrel wood finished beer with notes of toffee, nutmeg, and pepper and is arrestingly spicy and layered.”
Their formula is working and attracting customers from the local area and beyond. The back-tap room is open to events from corporate meetings to casual get-togethers and it gets booked up often.
Moving into the downtown location was well thought-out and intentional. Vaughn and Graham wanted to add to the revitalization and vibrancy of Queen Street and work with fellow businesses in the city, especially those in the downtown area. They renovated the building themselves and today the brewery employs 15 people, including both owners.
An exciting development has occurred with the brewery in the past year! They have been able to source locally grown hops for their Rabbit’s Foot IPA, from Northern Skies Hops in Desbarats, located just outside of Sault Ste. Marie. Katie says that fresh hops make a big difference to their India Pale Ale and by sourcing hops locally, they can offer a unique, fresh taste.
As mentioned, Outspoken is proud to partner with local businesses to better serve their customers. All food served at the brewery is from Shabby Motley located right next door.
The brewery continues to host cool events and fundraisers that benefits local charities like ARCH Hospice, F.J. Davey Home and Habitat for Humanity. Tickets for these events go very fast, Katie tells me. They’re open to trying new and fun activities involving businesses like Tamars Trends Flower Shop or Creative Nest Studios, where people can get together and work on a beautiful craft project, while enjoying a brew.
Both Vaughn and Graham are into cycling, so they thought: why not bring together different communities that could support each other and build off one another? So, a Bikes and Brews event was held recently, where Vélorution supplied some fat bikes to try out and Outspoken supplied the beer. People of all ages hit the trails for the “We Love Fat Bikes” event at Crimson Ridge Golf Course. It was a big hit for everyone involved.
Another quirky pairing is with The Rad Zone, where the brewery will offer records, DVDs and books for sale to customers who want to come and lounge and have a brew. They love to provide wall space for local photographers and artists like Alan Poelman, who currently has some of his photography displayed.
Sault Beer Fest is another big event coming up at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre on April 21st, 2018.
To find out what Outspoken has in store for upcoming events and activities, visit their Facebook page events section.
Katie told me that many tourists are finding Outspoken not only by strolling and exploring the downtown area, but through an app that they are listed on called Untappd, a tool enabling users to explore nearby popular bars, breweries, and beers. They have had people who are on cross-Canada tours stop in and also those coming over from the U.S. on a “craft beer tour.” Many of these tourists will check the app and stop to sample all of the craft breweries along the way. Outspoken is also part of the Lake Superior Ale Trail.
Currently, Outspoken’s products are available exclusively at the restaurants and bars, listed on their website. Cans of beer as well as growlers and howlers are available for purchase/drinking at their dispensary storefront location on Queen Street. Once again, they are looking forward to opening their patio on the May long weekend.
What a fantastic addition to the dynamic downtown scene and to the community. Outspoken may be a small brewery, but it definitely has a big voice and is making a big impact!
Due to COVID-19, Outspoken Brewing is available for online orders only. Retail operations are currently suspended. Please contact them directly for details.
Outspoken Brewing is located:
350 Queen St. East. Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Across from Sault Blasters and next door to Shabby Motley
Hours of Operation: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays Noon to 9pm
They are also open during Soo Greyhound hockey games (starting one hour before puck drop).
Follow on Facebook: www.facebook.com/outspoken.brewing
Instagram and Twitter @outspokenbrew