Five months ago, Randy and Denise Rowe announced that they planned on opening a nano-brewery in their town of Harvey, New Brunswick. Housed in a barn on the couples’ property, Off Grid Ales will be wind- and solar-powered, thanks to 18 solar panels and a wind turbine. With their official launch date approaching fast, we exchanged emails with Denise and Randy to get a little more information on what they have planned for New Brunswick’s newest brewery…
Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
We were sprout growers for 27 years; Denise is now a photographer and Randy a jack-of-all-trades. We have two grown daughters and three grandkids.
How did you get into the world of craft beer?
Scott MacLean of THINK Brewing [ed: also opening in Harvey in the near future] got Randy interested in all-grain brewing. And we’ve always been Picaroons fans.
What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
The thought of self-employment really appealed to us, and a brewery was a business idea from the start.
Care to share some info on your homebrewing history?
We’ve been homebrewers off and on for years, making the move to all-grain brewing about two years ago.
Do you have an approximate launch date?
Fingers are crossed for mid-November!
What size/manufacturer/type of system will you be brewing on?
We’re brewing on a Stout Tanks and Kettles 3 barrel (350 L) system, and expect 6 barrels (700 L) a week in terms of production.
In terms of hurdles, there are always power issues; we have to watch our consumption very closely, and be extremely efficient. On the benefits side, we get to live and work/brew on the side of a lake in a remote part of the picture province.
What are your plans for distribution?
We will be distributing 500 mL bottles to two ANBL outlets: Harvey, and York St. in Fredericton. We will also be on tap at two locations, the nearby Lougheed Pub (when it re-opens) and a popular Fredericton tap location. No onsite sales are planned for now.
Can you tell us about the beers you plan on offering initially?
Our first beers will consist of four regular-releases; we hope to offer seasonals sometime next year. The flagships will be the following: Campfire Red, an American Amber (5.5% ABV, 23 IBUs) exhibiting red malty goodness; Sunny Day IPA (5.5% ABV, 70 IBUs), a nice, hoppy, everyday IPA; High Tower Double IPA (7.8% ABV, 60 IBUs), a smooth and hoppy IPA; and Unplugged Porter (5.5% ABV, 34 IBUs), exhibiting a smooth mix of chocolate, caramel and coffee malts. We hope to offer seasonals by next year.
Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
Scott MacLean of THINK Brewing has been most helpful with brewing and equipment sourcing, as well as introducing us to local brewers. We’ve met some pretty inspirational people along the way – a lot of local talents who are so enthusiastic about the growth in the craft beer market. Our designer Tanya Duffy of The Details Design in Fredericton has been awesome to work with and we love our labeling, it’s unique and fun.
Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
Producing great beers that people enjoy. By then, we’re hoping for a small increase in production (adding more fermentors), as well as adding seasonal beers every year.
Do you have a favourite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Denise: I’m big on Red Ales; Gahan Island Red is a personal favourite of mine.
Randy: IPAs all the way! Picaroons Yippee IPA is a favourite.
How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
Our Double IPA, High Tower, is honey infused, and smells and tastes amazing. Unplugged, our Porter has such a rich flavour – coffee/chocolate and caramel – making it a great dessert – or even breakfast! – beer.
Do you have a website, facebook, and/or twitter page?
Our website will be ready upon launch; for now, we do have both Facebook and Twitter accounts active, where we have been providing updates on our progress for our followers.
Thanks very much to both Randy and Denise for answering our questions! We look forward to trying their beers when they’re hopefully released next month. Stay tuned for updates, and of course following along Off Grid’s social media accounts for the latest info.