Originally published in the Waterloo Regional Rural Post, Jan. 26, 2021
When increased restrictions were announced in Ontario, Roger Lichti and Sue From knew they had to act to keep their staff together.
The owners of Rural Roots Brewing Company in Elmira, which was already doing curb side pick-up for one-litre and two-litre versions of its product, started selling cans last week as a way to bring more product to customers and to keep staff working.
“Our focus is bringing people in to enjoy each other, to meet old friends, to meet new friends. So obviously with Covid over this last year that aspect has been taken away a lot,” Lichti said.
While the idea for the new cans has been in the works for awhile, Lichti says the introduction of the product seemed perfectly timed as Ontario went into its second lockdown of the pandemic.
“The canning is about getting our product out to our customers and to the people that support us. We’ve chosen very specifically to do it ourselves,” said Lichti. “By doing it ourselves I can still employ some staff. It gives me the ability to still have hours for my staff.”
Thankful he hasn’t had to layoff anyone. Lichti says the group is like family and were his first concern.
“We’re fortunate. By introducing canning we’ve been able to satisfy the staff and give them a minimum number of hours. That’s something we’ve been trying desperately to do.”
The new cans are more than just a way to generate hours, however. Like the brewery itself, the cans have local roots. Each one features a unique design showcasing the history of the area and even Lichti himself.
Designed by artist Amanda Wall, who has also designed the logo and other items for the brewery, the drawings each represent some aspect of home for Lichti.
“Each label is her illustration of a story, basically. A lot of the labels and the stories within them have ties to my roots,” Lichti said. “For me, it was very very important to have that personal connection.”
The Tile Yard Red can features a three-part illustration telling a story about the area surrounding Lichti’s childhood home. A re-creation of an 1800’s era ad for a clay and tile yard sits next to a drawing of that home and a barn.
“That was the first 20 years of my life,” he said.
The can for The Kommunity Kolsch features a barn raising, something Lichti knows will strike a chord with local customers.
The bolder flavour of raspberry and chocolate in the Schweizer Rolle Stout is served up in a can adorned with the image of a Swiss clocktower, honouring the place where Lichti’s ancestors hail from.
Even some of the ingredients are locally sourced with the honey in the Yes, Honey Cream Ale being provided by Bob Eby at Eby Family Honey in Moorefield.
Rural Roots is excited to be offering the new cans, but doesn’t anticipate the brand being for sale at the LCBO or beer store anytime soon. Instead, customers can pick up the offerings safely at the brewery and soon Lichti hopes to introduce delivery.
“Launching the cans has been our big thing and delivery will be the next step,” he said. “Stay at home, we’ll bring it to you.”
The meals are offered on Friday nights with a set menu posted to both companies’ Facebook pages a few days beforehand. Priced at around $55 the dishes include entries, appetizers, sides and come with a one-litre growler. Orders can be place in advance, with three different pick-up times offered.
“People love it and it’s really awesome to do it with a food place here in town,” Lichti says.
Never Enough Thyme provides the food for the brewery when they’re open for dine-in eating as well. That’s something Rural Roots hopes to be back to soon, with more additions to their line-up.
“Our hope is that when we do reopen that we continue to bring people in,” said Lichti. “We want to regularly have live music and music festivals in the parking lot. That is something big we want to do again as soon as we can. That’s a teaser.”
Orders for beer or Drink and Dash packages can be placed on the Rural Roots website or by phone and picked up Wednesday to Sunday. Rural Roots Brewing Company can be found at ruralrootsbrewery.ca or (519) 210-2102.