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Darren Smith, President & CEO at Lake of Bays Brewing Co.

Darren Smith, President & CEO at Lake of Bays Brewing Co.

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Presented x Mondial de la Bière [June 14-18, 2017 – Montréal]

Who are you: 

Darren Smith

Your current job: 

President & CEO, Lake of Bays Brewing Co.

In which city are you located? 

Baysville, ON

A word to define what kind of worker you are: 


What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..) 

A computer and a good cup of coffee. 

What does your office space look like? 

An old house next to the brewery that we’ve slowly taken over as our work space.

How large is the brewery? 

We’re in the top 10 by volume in the Ontario craft category. Our actual brewery is fairly small – less than 4,000 square feet with an off-site warehouse for storage.

The reason you started brewing? 

Because I love beer, not just as something to drink, but as a unique beverage with a really interesting history.

What was the inspiration behind your brewery? 

 I decided I wanted to open a brewery when I was still completing my economics degree at McGill. A property came available in Baysville and we thought the Lake of Bays name would have power with beer drinkers, both cottagers, and people who are into the outdoors more generally.

What are the biggest challenges for you as a brewer in Ontario? 

 Cutting through the clutter in the marketplace. Craft is growing, but the number of offerings is growing even faster, so you have to work harder (and smarter) to get ahead.

What kind of music do you listen to when you are working? 

CBC Radio Two is my default choice.

Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work? 

I keep a daily to-do list in Microsoft Word, combined with weekly to-do lists going out 2-3 weeks. Anything longer than that goes as a reminder in Google Calendars.

What tips would you give to improve productivity? 

Start each day with a plan for what you want to get done, and try to stick to it as best you can. There will always be stuff that comes up – if you can deal with it quickly, great, and if not, try to put it in a queue behind the stuff you already decided you wanted to do, rather than automatically letting these unexpected demands on your time take priority.

What is the best advice anyone has given you? 

A mentor of mine once told me that in any good business deal, everyone should have the same expression on their face at the same time. It’s a neat way to think about incentives – and not always easy to pull off!

What is your routine start and end of the day? 

I start the day with a cup of coffee and a quick check of our social media accounts. I usually end it walking our two dogs, Blu and Toby.

Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without? Prong collars for the dogs. They behave perfectly with them on and act like devils without them.

3 Ontario craft beers that we must try? 

I like Beaver Duck Amber/APA from Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. for the name and the beer, Duggan’s No 9 IPA as an old favorite, and (shameless plug here) our Spark House Red still makes me happy every time I drink it. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a brewery?

 Stay local or go big.