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New Oakville Brewery: Trafalgar Ales and Meads

Mike Arnold, founder of Trafalgar Ales and Meads | Trafalgar Ales and Meads
Mike Arnold, founder of Trafalgar Ales and Meads | Trafalgar Ales and Meads

Trafalgar Ales and Meads are expanding their operation this year to include a new distillery. Although the launch party for the distillery isn’t until May 25, they are already selling spirits to the public.

“Whisky’s the big one but we’re years away from our first bottle of whisky sale,” said their head brewer who goes by the name Ryan Hitesgabot. Because of the long aging process for whisky they won’t have any ready until further down the road. “So right now we have a vodka, we have a white rye, which is an un-aged whisky, and then we have a series of flavoured moonshines that will be changing all the time.”

“Changing all the time” appears to be the modus operandi down at Ales and Meads. Besides their new flavoured moonshines, their beer is also constantly changing brands and flavours. Between now and Canada Day alone they plan to release seven different brews, which comes to almost one per week.

They have a Honey IPA (Indiana Pale Ale) that just hit the shelves and they are presently bringing out their Victoria’s Empirical Ale. They also have a traditional Ontario lemon balm beer that will arrive in the next couple weeks and for Canada Day they are making a special brew called Maple Leaf Lager. Also for the July 1 celebrations the brewery is rereleasing its Historic Beers of Canada gift pack.

“Our whole reason for being is to not have core brands. To always, always have something new,” said Hitesgebot. “You almost can’t come in here at any given time where we haven’t just brought a beer out that week and we aren’t preparing to bring a beer out the next week. So now with spirits that will just amplify itself even more.”

Hitesgebot is a lifelong home-brewer and former combat infantryman. He had plans to be a career soldier, always keeping brewing in mind for retirement, but said he left the service early due to military cutbacks.

“I always planned on leaving the military and going into the brewing field. I just planned on doing it 20 years after the military, not three. So I got out of the military and went back to school and studied chemical engineering. I started here as a co-op student and just never went away.”

Mike Arnold, a former nuclear engineer for the hydro industry, started Trafalgar Ales and Meads in 1993. When he left the hydro business he had a beer importing company and moved on to a brew-on-premises operation before expanding to a full on brewery.

Despite the growth and addition of the distillery, Trafalgar Ales and Meads intend to keep their operation modest and mostly local.

“We’re still small. We still operate like a family owned business. We’re still all 100 per cent natural,” Said Hitesgebot. “We haven’t graduated to fructose or corn syrup or any of those types of things.”