MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. is as unique as they come.
Brewing good beer on an ancestral farm near Bath, each drop is a testament to the seven generations that came before – and the ingenuity of the current incarnation that welcomes guests to enjoy the fruit of all the labour that led to this moment.
Brothers Daniel and Ivan MacKinnon reimagined their family’s 1,300-acre bicentennial farm along with their cousin, Ben Vandenberg, invigorating the farm and its offerings by adding focus on beer and sustainability.
Now, century-old barns are renovated to house equipment; hops and malting barley are planted in the fields surrounding the brewery, and the brewery is proving to be a new (and popular!) take on an old tradition of working the land, alongside their family’s ongoing certified seed farm business.
“History is of great importance to us, we wanted to come back and add an extension to the value of products on the farm,” Ivan said in a previous interview with South Eastern Ontario.
More than a decade into founding the brewery, MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. has grown into one of the summer’s hot spots for brews and music.
The aim is sharing the tastes and traditions of the farm with beer enthusiasts, but it goes beyond that. Their brews embody the uniqueness of rural Canada in every glass or can, like CrossCut Canadian Ale that is reviving a traditional Canadian recipe, or local session ale favourite Brothers House Ale. Ever moving forward, new this year is Philly Light, which is already making a name for itself as crisp, clean, and remarkably refreshing. It’s easy drinking with a classic North American taste – a sure-fire hit for summer weekends.
When Harvest Ale launched in 2018, it brought the distinction of being 100% grown on the farm. MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. became the first Canadian brewery in recent years to grow all of the ingredients for a beer on one farm. In fact, the MacKinnon brothers set themselves apart from others in the industry by doing just that: utilizing on-site crops as brewing ingredients – keeping the entire operation local in the process.
What’s more, MacKinnon Brothers Brewing puts considerable effort into being sustainable at the farm. According to Sustainable Kingston, they created a cold cellar by blasting limestone bedrock which allows the brewery not to need any additional cooling methods for 80% of the year. In addition, the farm uses a sustainable no-till farming technique which means fewer passes over the field resulting in reducing energy consumption.
Back in 2021, MacKinnon Brothers posted on social media about switching their six-pack rings to a more eco-friendly version made from fibre by-product waste, making them sustainable, compostable, and biodegradable. More than 6,000 trees were also planted on the farm last year to help with its carbon offset.
Most recently, the farm put some new equipment into play to reduce its carbon footprint. It has proven to greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions while also saving some money at the brewery. In a Twitter post from January 2023, MacKinnon Brothers noted, “This equipment captures CO2 generated by the fermentation process and conditions it for re-use on the canning and key filling lines. This reduces our annual CO2 consumption by more than half!” It was the first of its kind for a craft brewery in Ontario.
Fun on the farm
But the MacKinnon charm is more than just seeds and brews: MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. has also become synonymous with music. Live at the Grandstand concert series is set at the timber-frame stage proudly showcasing the fields around it, making for an unforgettable open-air concert experience. Coming up Saturday, July 15, see The Trews at MacKinnon Brothers.
Events here have grown in size over the years, with MacKinnon Brothers’ major summer music and beer festival, Back to the Farm, now welcoming about 5,000 people every August. This year, Back to the Farm is set for Sunday, August 20 from 11 a.m. until closing. The lineup for this much-anticipated festival is launching on June 21 so stay tuned!
Adding to the farm’s intrigue is the addition of The Old Barn venue, which hosts weddings and intimate events. The renovated historic red barn provides a romantic, rustic yet elegant backdrop to celebrate love and life’s occasions.
Too cool taproom
In the meantime, pull up a chair and revel in the coziness of the Taproom. This is where the fun happens! Showcasing a full lineup of fresh beer, The Taproom is in the bottom of the historic Old Barn and provides a casual indoor space year-round – and a field-side patio in the summer. Look for Bring Your Own Vinyl nights, delicious foodie nights, and tons of live music every weekend. Get your toes tapping – while enjoying the beer on tap!