Brew Donkey - Brad

Brew Donkey - Brad

Brew Donkey

Owner: Brad Campeau
987 Wellington St W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 2Y1; 613-864-3659

Interview + Photography: Marianne Rothbauer, Rothbauer Studio

Photography @rothbauerphoto

Photography @rothbauerphoto

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did the Brew Donkey concept start?

Well, I'm 38 and have been self-employed since I was 27. Brew Donkey is my second business, and as with the other, I've chosen an industry that reflects a personal habit that I have. I've always appreciated local food and supporting small businesses. Therefore I created a company that not only helps people enjoy local food (beer) but also supports the breweries by giving them engaging new customers.

When did your love of beer begin?

I have to say that my love of beer and my love of local beer happened at two entirely different times. What matters, in this case, is the latter and that was in 2012 with a bottle of Beau's Greener Futures barrel aged IPA called Screaming Beaver. From that moment forward my personal shopping preferences were to try to find beers that were made by companies who I could communicate with directly, whether across the counter or in a phone call.


How many people have taken a Brew Donkey tour?

That's a hard question to answer. Every weekend is a little different, but as an example, this coming weekend we have 55 people exploring local with us. We offer tours every single weekend all year round, so the number of guests adds up over the years. I should say though that the real answer is not enough. The more people taking our buses and discovering local beer, the better.

Do you ever get people who don't love beer taking a tour?

It happens on a regular basis. From a group out to celebrate a birthday with one in the group who prefers wine, to a supportive spouse or partner who prefers whiskey or cider, the tours regularly have newly converted beer lovers. Our trips feature numerous types of beer sampled throughout the day. In this way, you get to try dynamic flavours of beer, and find a style that appeals to you personally.


Does the Brew Donkey bus have built-in beer taps?

Good God no. The Brew Donkey bus is a perfect vehicle for getting you from point B to point E to point E and finally to point R.
Having beer taps on the bus when the breweries we visit are already so generous would cause havoc.

Will there be a Brew Donkey jet in the future?

I've always imagined there could be a side company called Brew Eagle but the truthful answer is most probably not.

What is the Brew Donkey mission and how does it support local businesses?

Every weekend we're bringing busloads of people to local breweries where they learn about the breweries products, witness the culture and see the space where their favourite products are created. Without these buses of people, some breweries would have a hard time educating people on where they are in the city of Ottawa.

When not drinking beer, and say you are drinking coffee, what is your favourite place to grab a cup of Joe?

Depends on what part of town I'm in, if I'm in the Byward Market I'll grab a cup of coffee at Planet Coffee, a relaxing spot and my employer when I was 24. At work in Hintonburg though my go-to is Bridgehead, also a past employer of mine. ;) We're fortunate in Ottawa to have so many amazing local coffee producers. Happy Goat, Little Victories, Equator...


If you were wandering around Lower Town and you were hungry, which restaurant would you hit to crave that hunger?

As a vegetarian, my food options are usually pretty limited, but when I have 'a hunger' I typically go to Shawarma Palace on Rideau (not for Shawarma though) for their Falafel plate with garlic potatoes. I almost never finish the plate, but I'll grab a to-go container for later and 5 mints that never help.

What does the future hold for craft beer vs. the big breweries?

Big Breweries are already trying to seem like the Craft Breweries with their promotions and marketing, and when the small breweries reach that tipping point, big breweries look to acquire them. I hope that new trend is to become less of provincial or Canada-wide sensation and focus on being community meeting spaces that are supported by their neighbourhoods. Grow slow and smart, with a focus on the beer.


Outside of work and drinking beer, what is your favourite thing to do?

Favourite thing to do currently (Winter), board game nights and crafting. Come the Spring and Summer though visiting Wakefield for swims in the river on sunny days and biking through the country.

How hoppy will IPA's be in the year 2195?

Well if the robot apocalypse hasn't happened by that point, we'll probably have minimal arable land so almost no hops will be available to brew with. My expectations are that will trend to less hoppy beers by 2195. ;) In truth, though I think we've already reached peak hoppy-ness and from here the breweries will just begin to find a comfortable place of balance and flavour.

If you could have a Canadian celebrity on a Brew Donkey tour who would it be and what brewery would you take them to?

Although he's already passed, I would want Alan Thicke on a tour. I'd want to bring him to all of the local breweries that are currently in the process of going through the 'Growing Pains' of business.


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