Wolfe Island is named after General James Wolfe. Because of where the island is in relation to Kingston and Fort Hen- ry, the land was used as a strategic military point between the United States and Canada. It was also used historically as a strategic place for smuggling alcohol during the prohibition era. One of the beers that has been created to honour the history and is the brewery’s signature brew is the Wolfestein Cannonball Ale.
“It is a German stein- bier brewed with an authentic 36lb solid iron cannonball, dredged from the bottom of lake Ontario” co-found-er and brewmaster Rene Ziegelmaier told Prichard.
He added: “This cannonball would have been red on our great lakes during conflicts surrounding the War of 1812. Two centuries later we put our unique spin on the steinbier process. We heat the cannonball significantly hotter than the Germans brewers would have heated their stones.
“This heat caramelizes sugars from the malt to help balance bitterness from the hops, as well the cannonball leaves residual iron in the beer this gives the beer its crisp and refreshing finish.”
Another historic beer with an interesting story is the Wolfe Island Springs Amherst Beer recreated from the diary of General Jeffery Amherst, Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces during the Seven Year War (1756-1763). At the time, it was believed that the beer could ght o scurvy in the troops, so Amherst insisted all troops had some available. It was a spruce beer, using spruce chips instead of hops.
Other historic beers include Billy Bishop Red Ale (an Irish hoppy aromatic red), Lighthouse Lager (based on tradi- tional German pilsners) and Zesty Wit (Belgian style white beer brewed with orange zest and coriander). Co-founder Casey Fisher says the beers will initially be served at his two restaurants, The Wolfe Island Grill and the Mansion and sold at Fargo’s General Store, before appearing in other Kingston restaurants and pubs and some select Toronto establishments.
Aside from history, Casey says their location also gives them a unique advantage. Their brewery sits conveniently on top of old artisan springs, allowing them to use pure spring water in their beer. In addition, he cites the fact that they have full access to local farmers for ingredients.
“I rst met Anne Prichard and Sue Theriault at the Frontenac CFDC o ce in Harrowsmith in December 2012” said Fisher.
He explained: “Since then I have had the privilege of working with Anne and Sue and many other faces of the CFDC. The Wolfe Is- land Grill was the rst project I worked on with them in 2013. They have been an incredibly resourceful o ce aid- ing in everything from networking to funding and grants. I am proud to have this team in my corner once again in our newest venture “Wolfe Island Spring Craft Brewery”.
“I would highly recommend that anyone with new or existing business ventures in the Frontenac region take the time to tap into these people’s incredible knowledge and resources. We are indeed very fortunate to have such an asset in our community.”
It is an interesting story on how the brewery cam to be on the island. I struck up a conversation with Rene Ziegelmaier when he wandered by the Food and Beverage (FAB) Region’s exhibit at the Ontario Craft Brewer’s Association’s Conference October 2015. He and his wife had recently emigrated from Brazil to Waterloo, Ontario where his wife was working at the university.
At the time, Rene was at- tending the American Brewers Guild’s Craft Brewers’ Apprenticeship Program in Boston and he dreamed of open- ing his own brewery. Rene is a 5th generation brew master. His passion for German beers comes honestly as he rst started brewing beer with his German grandfather at the age of 7. We talked about the merits of opening a brewery in Eastern Ontario and Rene accepted an invitation to visit.
As it happens, the Township of Frontenac Islands was host- ing a grand opening for the new cardlock system on the island November 7th and I thought this would be a good opportunity for Rene to meet a few people and get a feel for the place. We dropped by the Wolfe Island Grill to in- troduce Rene to Casey Fisher, so Rene could get an entre- preneur’s perspective of doing business on the island.
We had a few moments to spare before catching the ferry so we popped by the MetalCraft Marine building (old Kraft plant) to meet Tom Wroe. As it turned out, Rene thought the building would make a great location for a brewery. The ferry line was much longer than I had anticipated so Rene ended up walking on to the ferry as a wet snow began to fall and I wondered what type of impression that would make on Rene.
As it turned out, Casey knew of artisan springs on the is- land and had been looking to open a brewery for the past few years to compliment his existing businesses. The next thing I knew was that Casey and Rene had gone into part- nership to open the Wolfe Island Spring Craft Brewery at the former Kraft cheese plant. Cheers to Rene and Casey.