Over the course of the Christmas holidays I had the chance to talk with Derek Leslie and get a tour of the Shiretown Beer brewpub. Shiretown Beer is co-owned by Derek and Tim Donahue and they have been brewing their own beer since April 2011. The brewing equipment is located in the basement of Café Artisan Brewpub / Brasserie on New Brunswick’s North Shore in the town of Dalhousie within a stone throw of the Bay of Chaleur.
Derek had been interested in brewing for many years. While working out West, he had the chance to develop relationships with many small breweries. He singled out Bob Baxter from the Yukon Brewing in Whitehorse as his strongest mentor in helping him learn enough to set up his own brewpub. Derek also mentioned how Sean Dunbar and Andrew Hashey from Picaroons in Frederiction, N.B. have always been a great help in answering questions about crafting beer, suppliers, producing growlers and other questions regarding brewing. Across the Bay in Carleton, Quebec, Naufrageur microbrewery is another one who has provided a great deal of assistance. Derek described how there is a real sense of brotherhood in the craft brewing industry and always a willingness to help out similar operations.
In addition to talking to the micro brewers listed above and others, a great deal of research took place on the internet to come up with the recipes for their beer. Beer Recipes, How to Brew and Beer Monkey were all valuable references that were used to come up with their original recipes.
This past October they expanded their batch capacity from 40 liters to 80 liters and use a “Brew Magic” System by SABCO. They are currently brewing anywhere from 320 to 400 liters most weeks with a maximum capacity of 1000 liters per week. They’ve leveraged Tim’s experience as a Pipe Fitter to come up with some creative cellar duties including how they keg and condition their beer. They are still in a learning curve as it comes to brewing as they are understanding more about things such as water chemistry and adjusting their recipes as a result.
They currently have three beers they produce: a Blonde (Blonde du Quai), a Brown Ale (Big Brown Ale) and just recently brewed their first IPA (Hops on For Nowhere). I had the chance to sample both the Blonde and the Brown (sadly for me they completely sold out their first batch of IPA in a few days) and was very impressed with both of them. The Blonde had a strong taste of citrus and was very refreshing. The Brown was very easy to drink with some surprising citrus undertones as well. As mentioned earlier they are still tweaking their recipes and one particular thing they are looking to do is bitter up their Brown Ale. For the time being they are focusing on their three existing brews and perfecting the recipe for each. Eventually they want to offer a seasonal brew and in the past have offered “Uncle Dunkel”.
Where you can get it
During my visit, the Café was the only spot you could get Shiretown Beer. In addition to getting draft on the spot, the beer is also available in growlers and kegs.
This will soon change as of January you will be able to get their draft at the Silly Billy Bar in Dalhousie and Brasserie 1026 in nearby Campbellton, N.B. The Blonde du Quai will also be available in 500ml bottles at the Café and the Dalhousie and Campbellton NBLC locations by April.
Update (Aug 2016): after a brief hiatus, Shiretown is open again, with a new facility at 363 Chaleur St in Charlo, NB.