New taphouse now open at Copper River Inn

Sam Odrowski

District residents now can enjoy craft brewery flavour without driving to Kenora or Thunder Bay thanks to the recent opening of the Copper River Inn’s Taphouse and Grill here.
The recent addition has equipped its new taproom with 25 different taps featuring 24 beers and one cider.
Just under half the taps come from craft breweries in Kenora, Thunder Bay, and the U.S. 
The number of taps at the Copper River Inn make it the biggest taphouse between Winnipeg and Sudbury.
“What we have found is that this is actually the largest [taphouse] right now across this part of the province,” Copper River Inn general manager Leanne Danelisky said.
Copper River Inn owner Bryce Campbell has wanted to develop a lounge space for a few years so when the opportunity arose to build a taphouse, he couldn’t pass it up.
“A taphouse seems like a perfect fit because it’s about drinking a few beer and enjoying good food,” he noted.
“It’s not that late night, it’s more about socializing.”
Campbell has seen the taphouse and taproom trend explode in Canada and the U.S. over the last four years.
“It’s been very surprising to me, in the last couple of years, just how focused a lot of tourists are on kind of following a ‘taphouse trail’ and the number of tourists that ask me, ‘Where is your taphouse?'” he remarked.
Campbell personally has seen it grow over the last five-10 years in the U.S.
“You’re starting to see it in Canada, too, so we wanted to jump on that,” he explained.
To meet the demand, Campbell recently decided he wanted to upgrade his bar from 14 taps to 25 to create Fort Frances’ first-ever taphouse.
“There has been a huge emphasis in the beer industry to promote craft and micro breweries, and to have houses that have that opportunity to promote the local breweries,” noted Danelisky.
“And also the beer trend right now, where it use to be wine, you were a wine connoisseur, now people are very much beer connoisseurs,” she added.
The dining area has been retrofitted to fit a taphouse atmosphere, with an industrial meets rustic theme for the decor.
“Everything we’ve done in the building has always been kind of a tribute to the northwoods scene so it’s very rustic,” said Campbell.
“And we also do an industrial kind of spin on it, too, because Fort Frances originally [was] an industrial town.”
The space features giant amber chandeliers, log sidings on the walls, a large fireplace clad in sliced log, and vintage travel posters of Northwestern Ontario, among other themed pieces of decor.
“The atmosphere is unlike anything else you can find in town,” Campbell enthused.
The menu also has a unique taphouse-style selection.
“We have a pretty specialized menu for food,” Danelisky remarked. “We like to think our menu is different from everyone else in town.”
While the taphouse took a while to construct, both Danelisky and Campbell are satisfied with the look and how helpful the people they worked with have been.
“We have had so many people from the community come together to support us to help us through this whole process,” Danelisky lauded.
“It’s been a labour of love in trying to get everybody in here and co-ordinated, and there’s so many people that have helped us in the past few weeks to make this happen.
“We’ve even had community members come in and help us, and we can’t express our appreciation enough for the support that we’ve been given,” she added.
“You call these contractors and they just pretty much drop everything and make it happen,” echoed Campbell.
“We can’t say enough good things about them.”
Copper River Inn employees also have been very enthusiastic about the project.
“I’m so proud of our staff right now,” Danelisky said. “They have shown so much excitement.
“I’m surprised with how much ownership they have taken over trying to make this come to fruition,” she added.
Both Danelisky and Campbell encourage local residents to stop by and try something different at the new taphouse.
“Come take advantage of this great selection that normally you would have to go to a city far away form here to experience,” Campbell enthused
The taphouse is open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m.-12 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-2 a.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.