Garrison Brewing Company of Halifax, Nova Scotia has enjoyed a tremendous amount of both commercial (sales grew almost 25% this past year) and critical (a combined 29 awards between the Canadian Brewery Awards and World Beer Championships including the two time Canadian Brewery Awards Beer of the Year in both 2007 and 2008) success. I’ve gone back and forth over email with various members of the Garrison team in order to complete this profile.
President Brian Titus founded the company in 1997 with an inaugural batch of Irish Red Ale. Brian was formerly a diving officer in the Navy, but always had a love of craft beer and was an avid home brewer. When he came to the East Coast and noticed there wasn’t much of a craft beer scene so he decided to start one. Coincidentally, both Garrison and Propeller Brewery opened up in Halifax within 2 weeks of each other.
Daniel Girard has served as the Brewmaster for Garrison’s since March 2008 (here’s a link to a video interview from the Great Canadian Beer Blog). Daniel received professional training in Berlin as “Brewmaster (VLB)”, and gained experience in Japan and Canada as well. He has written and spoken extensively on beer (here is a link from the NSLC site of Daniel explaining brewing flavored beers and another from the same of beer making). Daniel previously worked at the Pump House Brewery in Moncton, N.B. where production increased drastically and the beers received a total of 18 awards including the 2005 Brewery of the Year award during Daniel’s stay in Moncton. Daniel recently went to Victoria, B.C. to work with Philips Brewing on a Mash-Up Baltic Porter. Another collaboration with another brewery is being planned for 2012 with details being ironed out.
Garrison currently produces about 6000 hectolitres or two million bottles per year (volumes fluctuate month to month based on demand). Brewing capacity increased by 50% in April 2011 by installing two new tanks. Garrison is looking to expand again. They are currently seeking out a secondary building for manufacturing of beer in the Halifax core. If all goes well it should be up and running in 12 to 18 months.
Garrison Beer is currently available in bottles in all provinces other than Quebec and Newfoundland. They currently have approximately 100 draft accounts in Nova Scotia, six in New Brunswick and the Pilot House in Charlottetown, P.E.I. offers a couple of their products (Tall Ship and Hopyard). Their products are currently not available in any foreign markets.
The following are their year round beers (check this link for descriptions, specs and awards won by beer):
- Raspberry Wheat (NB, NS)
- Tall Ship Amber (NB, NS, PEI)
- Irish Read Ale (NB, NS)
- Nut Brown Ale (NS)
- Imperial I.P.A. (NB, NS)
- Hop Yard Pale (NB, NS, PEI)
- Jalapeno Ale
A Garrison “Mixed 6” pack is also listed in NB and NS.
Here’s a list of their seasonal beers and when they are expected to be out (check this link for descriptions, specs and awards won for these seasonal brews):
- Pils (December to February)
- Spruce Beer (December)
- Grand Baltic Porter (December to February)
- Winter Warmer (November to February) (NB, NS)
- Black I.P.A. (November to April)
- Martello Stout (October to May) (NB, NS)
- 3 Fields Harvest Ale (September to November)
- Oktoberfest Brau (September to November) (NS)
- Honey Lavender (August to October)
- Blackberry Wheat (May to September) (NS)
- Tilford’s Nit-Wit (March to July) *Ultimate Brew Off 2010 Winner
- Sugar Moon Maple (March to June)
- Ol’ Fog Burner (February to April)
- Ol’ Fog Burner (Barrel-Aged) (February to April
The next new beer slated to be produced is a batch of Schwarzbier using the recipe of last year’s Ultimate Brew Off* Winner. Follow Garrison on Twitter (@GarrisonBrewing), Facebook or their website to get updates on any new brews they have coming.
Atlantic Ingredients / Suppliers
In terms of ingredients, they are sourced locally whenever possible (i.e. Maritime Malt from NB, lavender from Meander River Farms for their Honey Lavender Ale, N.S. freshly harvested hops for 3 Fields Harvest Ale, Spruce and Fir tips harvested by Garrison employees at Meander River Farm, and so on). Garrison partners with Nova Scotia growers for fresh or wet hops, used in their 3 Fields Harvest Ale, which they’ve released mid-September for the past two years. They have also used hops from P.E.I. in the past, but not a huge percentage, just what local growers have available. They hope to see their use of local hops increase in 2012 but don’t expect it will be a huge percentage. The growers they’ve partnered with, like Fiddle Hop Farms and Meander River Farms, are still expanding their fields and trying to maximize their hop harvests.
Garrison purchases all of their equipment / tanks from DME International in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Feedback from Garrison is that they’ve been excellent to deal with in terms of attention to detail and customer service.
Beer Festival / Conference Plans for 2012
Garrison will definitely be attending the Atlantic Beer Festival & Halifax Seaport Festival this year. Brian Titus is a co-founder of the Halifax festival and typically brings a dozen offerings to the event including cask ales & limited releases. Garrison will also be represented at the Craft Brewer’s Conference in San Diego this May as the crew will take in all the talks & events. Their participation in other festivals this year will be determined closer to the festival dates by their supply of beer at the time, staff schedules, and other factors.
*Ultimate Brew Off
This year will mark the 4th year of the Garrison sponsored Ultimate Brew Off. This year’s style of Rye I.P.A. was selected by Daniel and Brian. Each year they come up with a style they think would be fun yet challenging to brew. The Grand Prize includes a day brewing a full batch of the winner’s recipe with Daniel and releasing the beer in bottles as a seasonal. They typically average 30 entries per year, but are anticipating more this year. Last year, Scott Tilford’s Nit-Wit was such a success, they had to brew it multiple times!
Get brewing! The deadline for entry is February 27th.
Brewery tours are available for groups of 10 or more with a cost of $12 / person. There are also a couple of online tours available (both front and back end of the operations).
This is the second in a series of posts I plan to do covering Atlantic Canadian craft breweries (the first one was on Shiretown Beer in Dalhousie, NB). If you’re an Atlantic Canadian brewer and interested in being featured on this site please contact me.