By: Rory MacDonald-Gauthier

Big Rig brewmaster Lon Ladell displays Big Rig’s Gold brand in the restaurant’s distillery. The Observatory currently serves the brand via bottle.

A local business reached out to Algonquin in a bid to make the campus an exclusive carrier.

Big Rig currently serves its Gold beer in bottles at Algonquin’s campus bar the Observatory, but is looking to expand its product to give customers the added flavour that comes with draft beer.

“We have bottles in the Observatory of our Big Rig Gold, and we’re hoping to be on tap there by next semester (Fall 2013). We’ve also received a call from Restaurant International to have our beer there,” said Brewmaster Lon Ladell.

This isn’t the first partnership between Big Rig Brewery and Algonquin. In December 2012 Executive Chef Russell Weir, a culinary management professor, worked with Ladell and taught first and second year students how to cook with beer, specifically Big Rig’s. The duo made a stew as well as a chocolate cake, which Big Rig’s Stud Stout was a crucial ingredient.

“I’m very fond of craft brewed beers, especially ones being brewed in Ontario. I find that Big Rig is definitely one of the best in Ontario. Those guys do it right,” said Weir.

But as Big Rig Brewery is reaching out to Algonquin to expand its customers, one question stands out: is Algonquin the only campus in Ottawa that serves their product?

“Absolutely, the one and only. Because of the proximity,” answered Ladell. “We want to hand pick the people we do business with.”

“I think that starting with Algonquin is a good niche market to begin with because the ages of students varies – we have just legal (drinking age) students to adults, so I think they’ll have good exposure and the college will help them grow,” said Rose Hack, a second-year recreation and leisure student

Hack feels that the brewery has taken the right steps in expanding it’s demographic of customers by reaching out to students of the college.

Aside from the draft beer coming to the Observatory, Ladell is looking to be more involved with the culinary department, as two of the line cooks at the Big Rig restaurant are also students of the culinary management program.

“You’ve got incredibly well trained people who are just down the road who are being trained by world class chefs, which is a huge resource in the restaurant industry,” said Ladell.

When further discussing why Big Rig Brewery chose Algonquin to first test their beer off-site, Ladell said the decision was influenced based off of past experiences.

“We wanted to start with people that we have history with, people that we’ve been dealing with,” said Ladell. “Start with the best.”

Aside from Big Rig Brewery draft beer coming to Algonquin and Restaurant International, the next project for them is selling their Gold brand through the LCBO. Students and customers alike can expect to see the brand on the shelves early spring of this year.