The Westboro Legion is serving up a new brew, with a twist

By Jacob Hoytema – 

It was the first truly hot day of the year and many pedestrians broke out their shorts and summer dresses for a stroll down Richmond Road. At the Westboro Legion, attendees cooled down by trying out a new lager that gives back to Legion causes.

On Friday, May 12, the Ottawa Valley-based Whitewater Brewing Company hosted a public tasting of their newest beer, the “Legion Lager.” Five per cent of the new beer’s profits will be donated to Canada’s Legions across the country to support veterans’ programs.

Whitewater Brewing Co. representative Tim Gautam stands at the tasting table with Westboro Legion bar manager Eugene Lavigne. Photo by Jacob Hoytema

After Eugene Lavigne, bar manager at the Westboro Legion, opted to bring the new beer in as a regular offering at the bar, he decided to visit Whitewater’s brewery in Cobden, ON. “It just happened that I was going up to North Bay… so I said, ‘well, can I stop in,’” Eugene recalls. “In fact, the first thing when I walked in, there was a lady putting the Legion beer in the fridge.”

Eugene says that he hopes other Legions across the province will join Westboro in selling the new beer at the bar to support the cause. “Five per cent may not sound like much — but if we sell a lot of beer…” he says with a keen glance.

Westboro Legion attendee Kelly Rusk stopped by to sample the new Legion Lager. Photo by Jacob Hoytema

Being a lager, the new beer is a lot lighter than most of what comes out of the craft brewing scene. Whitewater describes it as “easy-drinking” in their advertising. Chris Addison is a craft beer enthusiast from central Ottawa who dropped by the Westboro Legion for the tasting in a Whitewater Brewing shirt. “It was better than I was expecting,” he says. “I prefer IPAs, something a bit stronger and darker, but something like this I could drink all day long,” he says.

Whitewater representative Tim Gautam says that aiming for that lighter taste was intentional on the brewery’s part.

“We created a beer that hopefully meets the taste standard of what people are used to drinking,” he says. “The reason it’s a lager is because it’s the closest beer style to what Legion members are typically drinking.” Indeed, even on the day of the tasting, many Legion-goers were sticking to more mainstream beers such as Labatt’s or Coors.

“It’s more about education, trying the product,” Tim says. “Why not drink a great product that’s local, that’s helping create awareness about the Legion, and also they benefit from the proceeds?” He also described the Legion Lager as a potential “gateway beer” for those who might be interested in easing into other craft brews.

The lager is currently available in Ottawa at the Westboro Legion in tall cans. Whitewater says the beer will soon be available at the LCBO and Beer Store, as well as on tap at other liquor licensees. Tim says that the eventual goal “is to hit every single Legion” across the country.

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