Three Cheers for Three Years: Sleeping Giant Brews Bigger and Better

By Jeannie Dubois

If ever there was a city in the history of the world that ought to have its very own craft brewery, then Sleeping Giant Brewing Company has proven in spades that Thunder Bay is that place. With three big years behind them and bold plans on the horizon, Sleeping Giant Brewing Company is now an indelible part of the Thunder Bay tapestry that just keeps getting better with time.

In the beginning…

When their doors opened in June 2012, the brewery was operated purely for the love of good beer by family and friends, with the edification of Thunder Bay in all things hops and barley as an important sidebar. They produced 80,000 litres of beer per year, with 360 Pale Ale as their year-round offering, Skull Rock Stout as their winter brew, and Elevator Wheat as their summer beer. Packaged either in growlers to go out the brewery door or in kegs for their 6-8 initial licensees, business started to boom.

Less than two years later, production had increased to over 150,000 litres and all three styles were online year round, with the introduction of the innovative anomaly series already in the works introducing us to the Hoppet, Saison, and Brown styles.

Currently…

Boasting both the best malting facility in the country and the best source of fresh water (thanks Lake Superior!), Sleeping Giant Brewing Company continues to brew great local beer from the ground up and grow in new and exciting ways. They are now producing over 300,000 litres of beer and have expanded their regular repertoire to include the Northern Logger. Their over 40 licensees continue to roll kegs of all varieties out the door and customers can now purchase growlers, bomber bottles, or tall cans of their favourite brew. Their 10-odd staff members are as passionate as ever about beer education and appear regularly at homegrown events.

New brews…

Thunder Bay can look forward to two cool new brews this summer: their Spruce Tip Golden Ale, which utilizes locally harvested spruce tips as the bittering agent, and the nostalgic Mr. Canoehead—need we say more?

Festival flings…

The brewery will be test-driving some inspired new brews this summer at beer festivals abroad, such as a feisty double IPA, a spicy chai milk stout, and a hefty Russian stout. In addition, they are creating a collaborative new brew by putting their heads together with 25 other breweries at the Craft Beer Festival.

For the future…

Never resting on their laurels, Sleeping Giant Brewing Company won’t let Thunder Bay go thirsty, and are increasing their production once again with three new tanks. Availability will expand to the LCBO and Beer Store with growth to small northern communities (Nipigon deserves good beer too!). They also plan to introduce steel casks to their packaging portfolio, so get ready to tap a 10-gallon keg at your next shindig. The new brew in the pipeline is barrel-aged in bourbon barrels, just to up the ante once again.

Salut Sleeping Giant Brewing Company—bring the brews on!

Editor’s note: on June 6, our favourite Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. brew, Northern Logger, won a bronze in the North American Style Blonde/Golden Ale category at the Canadian Brewing Awards & Canadian Craft Brewers Conference. Congrats to the hard working team at the brewery!