Very recently, a new brewery in New Brunswick suddenly popped up in social media. To our knowledge, no one was aware that there was a new nanobrewery planned to open soon in Fredericton, but on Saturday, October 25th, TrailWay Brewing Co. happily announced through Twitter that they would be producing beer for the public in the near future. With the name inspired by the nearby Fredericton Walking Trail, TrailWay’s brewery construction is currently ongoing. They’ve already received their Federal Exise License, and their brewery inspection is scheduled for later today. We recently met with the owners/brewers of TrailWay, homebrewers Dan Mason and Jake Saunders (an engineer and Chartered Account by day, respectively), to check out brewery construction and ask them some questions on what they have planned for beer drinkers in our area…
ACBB: Tell us a little about your homebrewing history.
Dan: For me, my dad has homebrewed for almost 30 years and I have always been interested in the hobby and the beer he was making. Eventually I became interested in brewing better beer and beer of different styles, and the rest is history. I started with a couple of kits and immediately made the jump to all-grain, and since then I have probably brewed 3-4 batches per month.
Jake: I got into making beer in my second year of University. I started buying the cheapest kits I could find and soon realized that the quality of product had a huge impact on the final product. I first got into brewing when I realized that I could make it for a lot cheaper than I could buy it for – likely my cheap accountant side coming out. I eventually was introduced to a couple of the original members of the New Brunswick Craft Brewing Association (NBCBA) and had the chance to try their all-grain beer. I immediately started stockpiling all-grain equipment and the hobby soon became an obsession.
What made you decide to take the step into brewing professionally?
Dan: One of my favorite parts of making beer is sharing it with friends and family. Sharing my beer on a larger scale gets me very excited.
Jake: Similar to Dan, I consume a small percentage of the product I produce. I really enjoy giving it away – and the more of it you can give away, the more 5 gallon batches I can brew! I’m a Chartered Accountant but I always thought it would be cool to do this professionally on the side. A couple months back, Dan and I were sitting in my kitchen during one of our club meetings, and we began talking about how fun it would be to start a small craft brewery. My problem and main stumbling block was time – during the busy season at work I simply do not have enough. Dan’s main holdback was more of a space issue. I was just finishing up building a new house with loads of space in the basement. The partnership made a lot of sense in these respects. That day, we brainstormed the idea and here we are now.
What steps have you taken so far getting everything up and running?
Nearly all brewing equipment has been purchased and is on-site. Brewery construction is nearing the end and we should be licensed in the coming weeks.
Do you have any other partners in the brewery?
At this point it is just the two of us involved in the brewery.
What size/type of system will you be brewing on?
We are starting with a one barrel (31 U.S. gallons, or 116 L) electric brewing system. We’ve pieced it together from various suppliers & manufacturers.
Do you know when your beers will be available to the public?
Timelines can – and most likely will – change, but at this point we are targeting mid to late December. Our first inspection is scheduled for today, and we plan to have everything construction/equipment-wise ready for then. The timeline will largely depend on the timeliness of licencing agencies.
What are your plans for distribution? Plans for tap accounts, bottles, growlers, etc.?
Initially we will be selling kegs for distribution to pubs and restaurants.
Do you have any beer bars/restaurants in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We’ve spoken to two popular restaurants in town who have both shown a keen interest, but nothing has been officially set in stone. We’ve only spoken to these two restaurants and want to start with only two or three accounts so that we can gauge the demand – if we have the capacity, we’ll consider expanding our distribution to additional restaurants or pubs.
Can you tell me about the beer(s) you plan on offering initially? Are you planning on offering a specific style, or genres (German, English, etc.), of beer? Any seasonals, one-offs, or will you stick mainly with a “flagship lineup”?
We both tend to brew a lot of beers featuring American hops, but we also both love to experiment with different ingredients. We will focus on full-flavoured ales. Where we’re both homebrewers at heart, we love the idea of experimentation and producing a lot of one-off beers.
Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
With the recent increase in the number of new breweries in Atlantic Canada, what will make TrailWay different from the rest?
As mentioned, we both love to experiment with ingredients and TrailWay Brewing Co. will very much be about experimentation and playing with new recipes.
Where do you hope to see TrailWay in the next 2-3 years?
It’s difficult to say. We would both love to see TrailWay grow and continue to focus on these experimental batches and possibly have a tasting room at some point. We’re going to continue brewing on a part-time basis and if there’s a business case to expand operations, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Do either of you personally have a favorite beer style? Beer? Brewery?
Our flavours are similar. We both love pale ales, IPAs and stouts of all kinds, although any beer with a lot of flavor is a winner in our books. Did we mention that we’re both hop-heads?
Do you have a specific ingredient in brewing that you like to brew with? E.g. a specific malt and/or hop variety?
So far we would have to say any American hops. We are big on the intense aromas and flavors they bring. Expect to see a lot of late hop additions to produce this big hop aroma and flavor – we won’t be shy with dry hopping either.
From what/where/whom have you learned the most in respect to brewing?
Dan: My dad has definitely taught me plenty over the years. The NBCBA has been a huge part of my development as a brewer. The club has a massive amount of knowledge and brewing experience.
Jake: 90% of my brewing knowledge is from the NBCBA. I do tend to spend a lot of time online doing research and reading about the profession. For both of us, most of the learning is obtained through brewing. There’s only so much you can learn through reading and discussion with your beer club buddies – the best way to learn is through experience.
Welcome, TrailWay Brewing, to the growing list of Atlantic Canadian craft breweries! We look forward to trying their beers as they become available, and will continue to keep you updated on their progress. In the meantime, follow them on Twitter and Facebook for continued updates on brewery construction, licensure, and more!