How a start up brewery battled to thrive amidst the pandemic: Something in The Water

Something in the Water-Brewery
Something in the Water-Brewery

Emma Mitro, Content Writer, Onside Media, met up with three advertising professionals-turned-entrepreneurs who started “Something in the Water Brewery” during a pandemic.

November 18, 2020, Toronto: “COVID made us do it,” said business partners, Steve Waugh, Mike Lee, and Rick Tanton. Earlier this year in March 2020, they turned their love for beer into a viable business. Steve was working on a Molson advertising campaign years ago when he fell in love with beer. To keep his passion ignited, he eventually began home brewing in his condo. Years later, he got introduced to sour beer, and quickly realized that there was a real business opportunity to convert his passion into a business.

Founders Steve Waugh, Mike Lee, and Rick Tanton
Founders Steve Waugh, Mike Lee, and Rick Tanton

The partners began product development in November 2019 while the grand opening of the business was planned for March 2020. Little did they know that the world would suddenly go into a lockdown. This was the biggest challenge faced by the start-up because the freshly brewed beer had not made its way into any bars, restaurants or retailers.

Both Steve and Mike’s advertising backgrounds allowed them to quickly pivot the business model to alternative methods. Within 4 days, they launched a Shopify store, and began selling beer online and making deliveries. “Concurrently, throughout the summer, we collaborated with LCBO and our products went through a vigorous multi-stage evaluation process which included criteria such as packaging, tasting, innovation and sustainability,” added Steve. Soon thereafter, the Lee River Blackberry Vanilla sour was available in 80 LCBO locations across Ontario. In just two weeks, the business ran out of product and had to ramp up production.

Lee River Blackberry Vanilla
Lee River Blackberry Vanilla

Several Canadian small businesses are struggling due to the pandemic. On the other hand, Something in The Water, a contract brewery and essentially a virtual brand, began to grow amidst the same pandemic. “I feel for other brewery business owners who have probably gone through their worst summer because of payroll, rent, and overheads. They are availing loans and government subsidies, while we did not require these because we did not incur the same overheads. This is part of the strategy of doing contract brewing. You don’t carry all that extra costs,” emphasized Steve. The biggest success for the company so far is taking on a third partner, Rick Tanton who is the mastermind behind product itself: Beer.  There are at least three other sour beers currently being developed as well.

Somethinginthewater Brewery
Something in the water Brewery

An interesting fact is that all their beers are named after water bodies. “Something in the Water is best enjoyed by the water. Water connects us as people, and our beer is intended to connect us with friends and family,” pointed out Mike, Co-founder, Something in the Water. With a special connection to Lee River, it was apt to name the start-up’s prized creation Lee River Blackberry Vanilla sour, after the special place. Since climate change is a global phenomenon, Something in the Water supports this cause by donating 5 cents from each can sold to water conservation, so we can continue to celebrate the bodies of water that bring us all together.

Lee River Blackberry Vanilla sour is the start-up’s flagship product. And is currently available in over 80 LCBOs across Ontario, online at and finally coming soon to local bars and restaurants.



Emma Mitro1

Author:  Emma Mitro, Lifestyle, Content Writer for The Onside Media, Canada. If you have any stories or comments  kindly email: –


SOURCESomething in The Water