A Community Hub

Boshkung co-owners Mike & Mat  

Nestled in the heart of the Haliburton Highlands, Boshkung Brewing and Smokehouse stands as a beacon of community spirit and innovation. Founded with a deep appreciation for the outdoors and a passion for craft brewing and smoked meats, this establishment has grown into a beloved local hub. Owners Mike Rae and Mat Renda share their journey and vision for the future, highlighting their commitment to community, sustainability, and creating a welcoming environment for all.

A Blend of Craftsmanship and Nature

Mat is checking a fresh batch of beer

Boshkung Brewing and Smokehouse is a unique blend of a brewery and a smokehouse, offering an array of craft beers and Texas-style barbecue. Mike Rae, co-owner, describes the business as a place where one can enjoy ice-cold beer and delicious smoked meats in a setting that emphasizes nature experiences. “We specialize in brewing ice cold beer and focus on nature experiences, along with the smokehouse that specializes in Texas barbecue meats,” says Rae.

The brewery, originally located at the corner of Highway 35 and Highway 118, takes its name from Boshkung Lake, reflecting the local landscape that inspires its founders. Mat Renda, another co-owner, adds, “It embodies what we love—the outdoor living, cottage life trails, snowmobiles, ATVs, and fishing, which is something that we all take part in.”

Community-Centric Approach

Prouring a draft beer at Boshkung BrewingBoth Rae and Renda emphasize their commitment to the community. “We want to be very community-focused. If we support them, they’ll support us,” Renda explains. This philosophy extends to creating a supportive work environment for their staff. Rae, who is seven years clean from a cocaine addiction, highlights the importance of a supportive workplace in overcoming personal challenges. “We recognize people are people with feelings and experiences that sometimes affect their work,” Rae shares.

The owners are particularly proud of their efforts to provide support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues. “I want to be known for our support for those with addiction,” Rae states, underscoring their commitment to being a safe and welcoming space for all.

Expansion and Growth

Since taking over in October 2023, Rae and Renda have made significant strides in expanding Boshkung Brewing and Smokehouse. They have rebranded various facets of the business, including the Truss Foodworks and the Cookhouse Haliburton Forest, now known as Boshkung Smokehouse. Their reach extends beyond Haliburton County, with their beers being sold across the province from Ottawa to Toronto.

Their staff has grown significantly as well, from a handful of employees to a robust team that supports their expanding operations. “Over the winter, Boshkung historically had three employees. Now, we’re up to eight employees throughout the winter,” Renda notes.

Proud Achievements and Community Impact

Cans of Boshkung beerThe owners take great pride in being an integral part of the community. Rae and Renda’s dedication to community engagement is evident in the numerous events they host and their involvement in local causes. “We’re the hub for the Kennisis Lake and West Guilford community, and Boshkung Brewing and Social is the hub for Minden,” Renda states proudly.

Their partnerships with organizations like Forests Ontario and the Haliburton Forest are a testament to their commitment to sustainability and community support. They donate proceeds from their Haliburton Forest amber lager to tree planting initiatives and have created unique experiences such as the “dinner with the wolves” at the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre.

Sustainability Efforts and Future Innovations

Boshkung Brewing and Smokehouse is also committed to sustainability. They have implemented initiatives to reduce single-use plastics, donated spent grain to local farmers, and are exploring solar energy options. “We try to operate our vehicles as little as possible to minimize our carbon footprint,” Renda explains.

Innovation is at the heart of their business, with creative projects like repurposing a brewing tank into a smoker and exploring new beverage options beyond beer. They are also working on a packaged food line to offer their smoked meats for retail.

Looking Ahead

Outside of Boshkung social in the daytimeLooking to the future, Rae and Renda aim to expand their presence beyond Haliburton County, with a vision of opening a brew pub in Durham Region. They aspire to be a year-round employer, providing stable jobs in a region where seasonal employment is common.

“We want to be the company where people can have year-round employment,” Renda says. Their goal is to foster growth not just for their business but for the entire community, ensuring that Boshkung Brewing and Smokehouse continues to be a cornerstone of Haliburton County for years to come.

To find more succuss stories in the Haliburton Highlands click here.