Bay of Quinte Tourism

Behind the Scenes with Johnny CY Lam


I was intrigued by MacKinnon Brothers the first time I tasted their
beer in Picton; it was the 8 Man English Pale Ale, delicious stuff.
Something about the way they present their products and identity that
really got me interested, it was simple, straight forward, great
quality and not gimmicky.

When I got the assignment from BOQ Regional Marketing Board to photograph Mackinnon Brothers and Barn Owl Malt, I was immediately excited. I’ve always wanted to visit the brewery and meet “the brothers”, the camera was just my “passport” to get to know the inner workings of a great brewery beyond the tasting room.

I purposely scheduled the shoots on the same day because I wanted to blend in my experience as one. It was pretty cold and wet when I started with Devin and Leslie at Barn Owl Malt, where they have a special batch of barley grown just for MacKinnon Brothers. The relationship they have is unique because of the proximity of their businesses and the quality of their products. Being less than 70km apart, they help to promote each other and form a strong alliance inthe world of beer making.


I love the location of the Mackinnon Brothers, on County Road 22 just north of Bath, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It’s a working farm with a huge barn and multiple outbuildings, the tasting room is converted from a chicken coop; and if you are driving too fast you might just miss it, you get the idea. It is exactly because of the understated, raw set up it has that attracts the kind of people like me, it feels  real and unpretentious.

I packed a couple of cameras and a couple of prime lenses with me, my trusty 24mm and 50mm, no strobes, but I did bring a tripod. Ivan and Dan greeted me warmly with  a firm handshake and offered me a pint of Crosscut, a beer I hadn’t tried yet and it’s delicious, might even be my favourite so far.


They took me to see the aging cave, where steam was shooting out of a stainless steel tank during cleaning. That was a great shot!  A mad scientist doing mad things in a cave. In another out-building, giant stainless steel tanks stand 2 stories tall, looking like spaceships ready for take off. I had Dan climb up the stairs and I asked him to
look inside the tank through a little round door at the top of the tank, an astronaut inspecting his space craft. I was fascinated by all the colourful hoses, some are hooked up to machines, some are hookup to tanks; some just hang off a wall with bright blue latex gloves dangling off them.

We walked over to the barn next to a very large collection of empty kegs piling one on top of another, the old foundation was all dug up. They are hoping to restore the giant barn into a functioning event space. I can just imagine the parties they are going to have there! They also grow their own hops in the field, where their family has been farming for the past 5 generations.


Photographing people is always challenging, but that is also why I love photographing people, it never gets old or boring, especially if
the people are passionate about what they do. It was a treat to have
spent an afternoon learning about beer making, family dynamics and
history of a place. The brotherly love and respect Dan and Ivan have
for one another was amazing for me to witness.  It isn’t easy to work
with family, but it can be extremely rewarding if it works and it
seems like MacKinnon Brothers have it figured out!

Book a craft beer and cider tour and experience Quinte Craft from field to fist.

Sign Up For Our
Awesome Monthly Newsletter.

Fields marked with an * are required