NORTH BAY -- It’s a North Bay brewing company, but its latest product is becoming a new hometown beer for the people of Powassan, just south of the city.

New Ontario Brewing released a limited edition craft beer called Two Towns Past Powassan and the reaction was better than the company ever imagined.

“We were expecting it to come out and, like most beers, at least they have a good surge at the start and then they wavier and then they’ll sell out after a month or two,” said Brew Master Mike Harrison. “With this one, we launched it and it just went crazy. We sent skids of it out through Canada Post to people all over, so it’s definitely more than we expected.”

Only 4,000 cans of the amber ale were created with the can featuring both Powassan’s name and population sign.

“It was just a real neat idea to put our name on a beer and we’re very happy they did so,” Powassan Mayor Peter McIsaac said.

However, for residents in Powassan, this came as a surprise.

“It wasn’t a secret,” Harrison laughed. “Maybe we didn’t know how popular it would be with Powassanites. So we named the beer, we put the little town sign and all that on the can and then when the word got out that it was out there, we just got an overwhelming response from the people of Powassan, which was really nice to see.”

Since releasing the beer, 250 Clark, Powassan's community centre, has launched a contest in partnership with New Ontario Brewing to help bring people’s spirits up while promoting the hometown.

“Well we like to celebrate anything in Powassan, so that was more than anything,” said Kathie Hogan, events coordinator at 250 Clark. “That was really a marker to celebrate. So you put Powassan on any label, we’re there to support it and the community has definitely risen to the occasion.”

The contest includes residents posing with their Two Towns Past Powassan beer can and posting it on social media, as well as liking both Events at 250 Clark and New Ontario Brewing on Facebook.

“Powassan is all about happiness, all about surviving COVID, it’s been almost a year,” Hogan said. “We have managed to have some fun, but the fun has been limited, definitely.”

She said having her town recognized this way is just a fun idea.

“I mean, I’m so proud that New Ontario has recognized Powassan, for whatever reason, maybe we drink a lot of beer, maybe we don’t. But it’s nice to be recognized and he says he used it as humour so we’re glad to go with that,” Hogan said.

Harrison admits that the name started as a joke.

“It’s a fun little story,” he said. “Often when people are driving up, they’re coming to the brewery and they’re like ‘where are you? Where are you? Where’s the brewery at?’ and we usually just say ‘okay, where are you?’ and they’ll give us a whole ‘oh when you get to Powassan, we’re just two towns past that.’ So it’s kind of a cheeky way that we talk to tourists from Toronto for the last five years.”

Because a lot of the staff also come from Powassan, Harrison said it is a “nice tribute to a really nice area.”

He said over half of the cans have already been sold and although he plans to bring it back, people will have to wait until 2022 or even 2023 to get more.

“It’s cool to see when something comes together when you know, there’s those second and third-order effects that happen to something you just started off being cheeky and then you really see that it (resinates) with people,” he said.

McIsaac said it’s grabbing the attention of people from further than just Powassan.

“Everyone’s really enjoying it. Everyone’s really excited about it. Even this morning, I had a friend that I went to public school with here at 250 reach out to me from Burlington, I haven’t talked to him in years, and ask me about the beer,” he said. “He was going to order some. So it’s kind of neat how it’s spreading not just inside the community but for people who are from Powassan and have moved on. They’re looking for a little taste of their hometown.”

Even with the current shutdown order in effect, people can order Two Towns Past Powassan beer on the website or by calling the brewery.