LCBO: Before opening Sawdust City, you were living in Toronto. Was it tough to pack up city living and move back to the country?
SAM CORBEIL: I grew up here, so it wasn’t a big deal for me. But the first two winters were really brutal, which was not the easiest thing for my wife.
LCBO: Your brewery isn’t just a place to grab a great beer, it’s a central gathering place for locals and cottage goers alike. How did that happen?
SC: We’re right on the main street, along the Muskoka pier, and we chose that spot because we wanted to be part of the community. We have a brew pub with bands playing every weekend, plus bingo and trivia nights. In the summer we license our parking lot on the long weekends, and in the colder months we host the Gravenhurst Winter Carnival.
LCBO: You’ve spent most of your life in cottage country. Is this reflected in your beer?
SC: Our Golden Beach Pale Ale is actually the name of the street I grew up on in Bracebridge. This is the beer we launched the brewery with. It’s just 4.5% ABV, made with wheat and lots of Australian Galaxy hops, giving it grapefruit and pineapple notes. It’s exactly what I’d drink if I was sitting on a cottage dock, or snacking on ceviche or summery salads. It’s so amazing with fish tacos, too.
LCBO: Your Lone Pine IPA is also fitting to the cottage theme. What’s the inspiration behind this beer?
SC: I wanted it to be that deep orange colour like a dusk sky in Muskoka with a really resinous pine flavour and a sticky, almost oily feel you need in an IPA so that it coats your teeth.
LCBO: What do you like to eat with it?
SC: Any meat that you can throw on the grill.