Rotary Local Lager to hit shelves at The Beer Store and selected restaurants in county

Lager launch - Rotary Club of Picton president-elect Brenda Hellyer and past-president Rick Jones enjoy a pint of the new Rotary Local Lager at The Waring House Monday afternoon. (Adam Bramburger/Gazette staff)

Each can sold means 50 cents contributed to local, global initiatives



Among iconic names like Molson, Budweiser, and Coors, patrons visiting The Beer Store in Picton could soon see another familiar established brand they might not be expecting on the shelves.

Rotary International’s familiar blue and gold hub-and-spoke logo now graces beer cans and offers beer drinkers a chance to support community projects.

Brenda Hellyer, the president-elect of the Rotary Club of Picton, was at a recent district conference when she noticed a flyer on her table at breakfast touting the benefits of Rotary Local Lager.

“Everybody thought ‘This sounds interesting,’” Hellyer said. “Then, they said it was a fundraiser. I thought this was something we needed to do because it doesn’t require any effort at the Rotary club level. We’re not selling calendars or organizing wine tastings or beer tastings. This seemed like the way to go.”

She said the concept first started with the Rotary Club of Peterborough, which had a microbrewery do a one-time branded beer. The beer sold well — too well for the brewery to meet demand. The Rotary Club of Guelph heard about the campaign and decided to get its local Wellington Brewery involved. Within a short time, they had a recipe, they approached Rotary International about branding, and they were preparing a three-year trial to sell the cans on a broader scale.

The cans will sell at a price of $3.10 each, or $69 for a case of 24. From each can sold, participating local Rotary clubs can keep 20 cents, the Peterborough and Guelph clubs keep 20 cents — some of which helps with marketing and project management — and another 10 cents will go to Rotary International water projects in the developing world. The buy-in for the local club was a mere $250 to register the beer.

Hellyer said when she first contacted the Picton Beer Store about the brew, representatives there had some doubts about whether they’d be allowed to take on the new brand. It wasn’t long until a manager called her back and said they had permission.

“Rotary talks,” Hellyer said.

The Beer Store deals directly with Wellington Brewery, which has also made the brand available for purchase by restaurants. Thus far, Hellyer said she’s had lots of interest from local establishments with The Acoustic Grill, The Waring House, and Waupoos Pub already on board and others ready to carry the product soon.

After a taste test, Hellyer said she thinks the beer will be enjoyed best at a particular time of the year.

“It’s a summer beer,” she said. “It’s not an IPA or a heavy beer.”

Past-president Rick Jones said he believes the growing craft beer culture in Prince Edward County will be a boon for the product as people in this community are eager to try new, Ontario-produced products.

“I think it will. We’re just at our initial launch and I think if people read about it, it will give them a chance to test it too. The more places that have it, the better off we’ll be.”

While Hellyer wished to focus on the launch of the lager and the co-operation Picton Rotarians have with the brewery and their cohorts in Guelph and Peterborough along with other Rotarians across the district, she said the club would listen if local producers felt they wanted to produce a complementary product to the Local Lager, like a pale ale or a stout if it would offer similar support for Rotary initiatives. “I’m happy for them to support Rotary. If the want to develop a beer, we can talk to Rotary International and the district,” she said.