Paddling & Craft Beer: The Happy Camper Explains

Kevin Callan – also known as The Happy Camper – is one of Canada’s foremost experts on paddling who is featured regularly on the CBC and in Explore Magazine.  He knows a thing or two about craft beer too.


How long have you enjoyed drinking craft beer?

I’ve been interested in craft beer for a long time now. Sampling different recipes and crafters became a big thing with my regular paddling buddies when we gathered to plan our next trip. We pulled out the canoe maps and guide books, then tried as many different types of beer we could get our hands on. It was called it ‘The Map and Flap.’

What do you enjoy most about craft beer?

Craft beer is local, handmade, non-corporate and above all extremely unique in texture and taste. Why wouldn’t any beer drinker prefer it?

You recently visited Darren Smith, owner of Lake of Bays Brewing Company, and took a tour of the brewery. What were your impressions?

You can tell the moment you walk around that it’s a family-style place to work. They all enjoy what they do – and that makes a big difference to me.

What are the rules around beer and paddling? Can you bring a beer to a campsite for instance?

Drinking beer while paddling is definitely a silly idea. Drinking a craft beer at your campsite after the day is done on the water definitely isn’t. Take note, however, that you can’t bring cans or bottles in the interior of provincial parks. The rule was made a few years back after a long history of unethical campers leaving them behind. At the campground in provincial parks is fine. Just don’t leave your campsite with a brew. Other than that, it’s okay to pack a few “tall boys” in your packs – and bring the empties back out with you.

Which was your favourite beer at Lake of Bays Brewing Company when you went?

I was surprised with their Wild North Pumpkin Ale. It’s like no other pumpkin ale I’ve sampled. My all-time favorite used to be Spark House Red Ale, but after trying their 10 Point English IPA, I’ve switched. This is one unique tasting craft beer – and the label is really cool.

Check out the video below to hear what Kevin and Darren have to say about paddling and brewing in the wilderness north of Toronto.


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Drink responsibly on the beer traiL. Do not drink and drive.