Profiles

OBB Logo

Fans of good local beer in Lower Sackville, NS, have reason to be excited this weekend, as Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House is making its triumphant return to the suburban community. After originally opening as a nanobrewery out of co-founder Keith Forbes’ home in November 2017 and then closing when juggling the small-scale brewery and full-time job became untenable. Forbes is back, along with childhood friend Chris Balcom, bigger and better than ever. While we know that there are many who aren’t fans of the brewery’s name or their logo, we can absolutely vouch for the quality of the beer and we hope that’s what ends up standing out above all as the brand returned to the local market Saturday. We caught up with Forbes and Balcom as they were putting the finishing touches on everything late last week, just ahead of opening weekend (which continues today, May 18th, 12 – 6 PM), at their Cobequid Road location in Lower Sackville.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Keith Forbes is Head Brewer and founder of the original Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House, with 10 or so years of brewing experience under his belt. The 37 year old lives in Sackville with his amazing wife of 11 years Erin and they have two children. In 2018 he partnered up with his old high school friend Chris Balcom. Chris, also 37, is the general manager and lives in Sackville with his wife of six years, Megan, and their two little boys.

How did you get into the world of beer?
Keith started into the world of beer to save a few dollars after his family moved into a new house in the late ‘00s — they had 2 kids and a 3rd on the way. The first few months it was Festa Brew kits which then moved into a couple Best Case kits. After that he discovered the Brewnosers; he picked up a small system and started to formulate his own recipes. He went on to read and learn as much as he could about beer making and went on to apply what he learned and started making some pretty good beer, which evolved into entering competitions, giving him feedback to help with dialing in his product. Chris on the other hand had never brewed beer in his life until he reunited with Keith after 15+ years away working in the oil industry. As an avid beer drinker, Chris had always wanted to own and run a pub, together they have combined their talents to create something great.

Brewery Front

What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
Keith’s passion for great beer and wanting to share his product with everyone is the main reason. After the Forbes 500 Tap Takeover at Good Robot in November 2016, he, along with his wife Erin, moved forward to open their own nano brewery in their home and quickly discovered that there aren’t enough hours in the day to run a successful nano brewery, work full time, and still have time for a family. While in early talks with his future partner Chris to expand the business, he decided to take a few months away from brewing to figure out what his future held. After a relaxing summer Chris and Keith had what was supposed to be one last meeting, instead Keith decided he wasn’t ready to leave the world of brewing and partnered with Chris and the two haven’t looked back since. In November 2018 we became Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House Inc. and in 2019 after securing the capital to proceed with our expansion plans, we purchased a 10bbl brewing system and signed a long term lease in Lower Sackville. 

What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
At Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House it’s all about the beer, our friends & family, the people behind the pint, and the community we live in. We strive for Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House to be a brand that is known in our community as a friendly face with a standard of producing high quality, great tasting beer, and to be a familiar brand that everyone recognizes and looks forward to drinking.

OBB Cans

 

Can you tell us about the beers you have available now?
We are launching with 4 of our 6 mainstay beers along with 4 limited releases.

Mainstays (core brands):

  • Seven Day IPA (6.0% ABV) – Our version of a No Coast IPA – it’s far from a West Coast IPA, but it’s not true to East Coast either! It has the bitterness you expect from a traditional IPA, but it also delivers a juicy tropical fruit and citrus flavour to your taste buds. Think melons, stone fruit, strawberry, pear and grapefruit.
  • Even Gooder Coffee Brown (4.4% ABV)- A balanced, light-bodied, easy-drinking brown ale fermented on whole coffee beans. The chocolate, caramel, and earthy notes of our Even Gooder Nut Brown are complemented by the coffee, taking this beer to the next level. Special thanks to our friends at Apartment 3 Espresso Bar for supplying us with the dark roast beans for this brew!
  • Disco Inferno Red IPA (6.5% ABV) – Our Disco Inferno Red IPA is where malts meet hops. This friends and family favourite is well-balanced with a moderate citrus and floral hop profile and finished with notes of caramel and chocolate.
  • Funktown Pale Ale (5.0% ABV) – A hop-forward pale ale. Fermented using a clean American yeast, it finishes dry with lemon and grapefruit flavors and aroma.

 Seasonals/One Off’s:

  • Maisil IPA (6.2% ABV) – Our version of a West Coast IPA. It has the bitterness you’ve come to expect from a traditional IPA with flavours of grapefruit, orange and pine.
  • Patrick O’Neil’s Irish Red (5.0% ABV) – Patrick is nothing fancy – a simple, balanced Irish Red.
  • Tall, Dark & Handsome Porter (5.0% ABV) – TD&H is a dark, flavorful and balanced porter. It is medium bodied with chocolate, caramel and roasted notes.
  • Jim Hopper (3.2% ABV) – Jimmy is a low ABV, refreshing wheat ale that finishes crisp and clean with orange notes on the finish. Great for a hot summer afternoon.

What are your plans for distribution? How can folks drink your beer?
With COVID-19 changing the industry overnight we also had to adapt quickly like most breweries in Atlantic Canada. We are currently working with Craft Coast Canning to package our beer into 473 mL cans and plan on taking online orders for curbside pickup at the brewery. Once restrictions are lifted we have a 15-tap taproom with seating for 30 – 50 where you’ll be able to enjoy a pint or flight of your favorites. We will also have growlers and cans to take home and enjoy.

Forbes in Brewhouse

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We have some accounts lined up with more to come at a later date once COVID-19 passes.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
This is a long list; most covered in the initial introduction of our nano brewery. But we must fire out a special thank you those below (if we missed anyone we are very sorry).
First and foremost, a huge shout out to our wives, Erin and Megan.
Secondly our parents: Chris & Tim, Mike & Sandy.
And then, in no particular order…

  • Alex McConnachie
  • Mike Orr
  • Paul MacKinnon
  • Ken Sidhu & Chris
  • Steve, Max & Team @ Commercial Electric
  • Dan @ Teklor Controls
  • Matt, Jon, and Al @ Off Track Brewing
  • Joe and Laura @ Triders
  • Matt and Ian @ Brightwood Brewery

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2 – 3 years?
It took us 2 years (really 4) to get to this stage, we plan to grow our brand and expand our team all while sticking to our roots. Mainly just take it 1 pint at a time.

OBB Brewhouse

As always, for the brewing geeks who are reading this, we also asked for some slightly more detailed info about the brewery as well:

What type of system are you brewing on and what is your expected output?
We are operating a 10 barrel electric brewhouse with 8 unitanks. With COVID-19 in full swing we are not sure what our expected output will be.

Care to share some info on your brewing history?
Our head brewer, Keith has over 10 years brewing experience, 8 years home brewing, and a couple years commercial brewing split between the nano setup and assisting at other commercial breweries.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Chris is a big fan of heavily hopped IPA’s and double IPA’s, but his favorite secret indulgence is Church Brewing‘s German porter.
Keith: My favorite style beer presently is a low-SRM (“light coloured” for non-brewing readers) hop forward pale ale. Something light bodied, crisp and refreshing. That said I’m a huge coffee fan and have been craving a Mean Joe Bean from Triders as it has always been one of my favorites.

How about your favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
Not so much a favorite style to brew however, in terms of ingredients we would have to go with brewing salts. 

Congratulations to Forbes, Balcom, and the entire OBB family on the brewery launch this weekend. You still have time to grab some of their 8 varieties in cans at the brewery today. Located at 111 Cobequid Road in Lower Sackville, the brewery is open 12 – 6 PM today, May 18th. Hours going forward will be Thurs 12 – 6 PM, Fri and Sat 12 – 8 PM, Sun 12 – 6 PM. You can pre-order your cans and learn more on their website (http://www.olbiddys.ca), as well as on their social media pages (Fb / Ig / Tw).

Grand Falls Brewing Logo

Located in Northwest New Brunswick, Grand Falls is home to the CCNB Biorefinery Technology Scale-Up Centre, known to many in the region as a resource when looking to open a brewery, distillery, malthouse, or hop farm, thanks to the great R&D happening there. But the town has never been the home to a brewery… until now! Grand Falls Brewing Company has opened their doors this week at 651 Main Street, and currently has four beers available for purchase in their retail shop. We caught up with Marco Ouellette, who is a co-owner along with Denis Gervais, Louis McClure, and Jamie Savoie (also the Head Brewer), to learn more about GFBC, their beers, and plans for the future.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves? How did you get into the world of beer?
It all started with a few buddies talking about the possibility of opening a Microbrewery in the Grand Falls area. It was a combination of both a business opportunity and also a fun project among friends. We all had a similar vision in providing an environment where locals could meet, socialize and enjoy freshly made craft beer. We were confident that this would be a place we would all be proud of having in our backyard.
After a bit of homework, we realized the importance of having a good brewer on our team. It was the most important piece of advice we gathered. And we were so lucky to find Jamie. He has 11 years of beer-making experience on his own and his passion and knowledge made him a perfect fit on our team. It didn’t take long to decide that we four would partner up in creating Grand Falls Brewing Co.

What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
We were off to the races with no finish line in sight. We learned as we went, met weekly, came up with ideas, looked for locales, discussed our vision, talked about product, considered exportation, etc. Every meeting was interesting, knowledgeable and engaging. Every partner had a fair say, an equal opportunity to give his thoughts and ideas and we left no stone unturned. We covered as much ground as we could, or at least as we knew; or more accurately, what we thought we knew. We are very conscious that we are not experts, but we came up with a plan that we all agreed with and we are so proud of the way it is shaping up.

What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
We want to create a variety of quality beers that will appeal to many taste buds: from the newly introduced to the more experienced craft beer enthusiast.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next few years?
We hope that three years down the road we are able to look each other in the eye and say “cheers”, and “job well done”. We hope our commitment to quality stands out!

Have you had any assistance from other breweries and people during your road to opening?
We are very fortunate to have Mike Doucette with CCNB-Innov in our backyard. Mike is a mentor for Jamie and a friend to all 4 partners. His knowledge in the craft beer industry and his help with our launch is priceless to us.

Can you tell us about the beers you have available now?
Our Initial offerings consist of 4 beers. Our first one is called Take it Easy, it’s a 4.3% Grisette made with Pilsner malt, wheat and some rye, then late-hopped with Hallertau-Blanc and fermented with a Saison yeast. Hop Dam is a 6.5% IPA hopped with Simcoe and Mosaic, low in bitterness and lots of juicy hops flavour and aroma wrapped in a pillowy body. Next is Knight Rye’der, a 6% Rye Stout made with English malts and fermented with a clean American yeast, resulting flavors include chocolate, mild coffee, cookies and toffee in a creamy mouthfeel. Our final offering is a Gose named Holé, a 4.3% sour beer typically made with coriander and salt but in this one we added loads of lime juice and zest, lending a beer reminiscent of a lime Margarita.
Beside those 4 initials beers we plan to make lots of one-offs and seasonal beers. Variety is the spice of life!

What are your plans for distribution: How can folks drink your beer?
We are focused on building the most beautiful taproom we can for our area. Our number one goal is to have our very own locals proud to come to GFBC. Once that is established, we want to branch out and bring our knowledge of beer diversity to our beautiful province of NB, then to the Maritimes. We are committed to bringing a quality product to the table and will continue to grow from there. We will be selling in traditional pours of glasses, pints, and samplers in our 175 seat taproom, which we will be opening soon, when the final touches are complete. In the meantime, our retail shop is open for can sales, which will be complemented with growlers and kegs in the future.
We have received lots of interest from restaurant owners to serve our beer in our region and we will definitely visit those opportunities in the near future.

Let’s get nerdy, and chat with Jamie Savoie! Tell us about your brewhouse and capacity.
Our brewhouse was manufactured by Criveller and it’s a three vessels 10BBL (1200 litre) system along with four 20BBL (2400 litre) fermenting vessels.
For our first year, we are aiming to produce around 100,000L. Year 2 we aim to double what we did the previous year.

Care to share some info on your history with beer?
I’ve been homebrewing all-grain for more than 10 years now. Both Jason from Les Brasseux d’la Côte and Mike Doucette from CCNB-Innov have been great tutors, helping me transitioning from small scale to large scale.

Do you have a favourite style of beer to brew or ingredient to brew with?
I like incorporating a local or a wild ingredient in some of my beers. I also love just trying a new hop variety or a new yeast strain.

How about a favourite style or category of beer to enjoy at the end of a long brewday?
I do love a wide variety of beer styles. On draft at home I always have an array of either: a saison or something light, hoppy beer, malt focused beer or something sour. In between I also enjoy bottles of big beer like imperial stouts, mix fermentation or barrel aged beers.

Thank you and congratulations to Marco, Denis, Louis, and Jamie on their launch this week! If you are in the area, we highly recommend visiting the brewery to grab their beer, in order to support them in these unprecedented times. They are open 2 – 8 PM Monday to Saturday at 651 Main Street in Grand Falls. Keep on eye on their Facebook and Instagram for the latest news on new beers, taproom opening, and availability at licensees in the region. Here’s some insider info, their Hop Dam IPA won’t last until the weekend, so if you were interested, head there today! Cheers!

Delta Force Logo

Despite the difficult times we’re currently experiencing, there are plenty of good news stories to be found in the beer industry these days. From the expansion of delivery options available (well, 3 outta 4 provinces ain’t bad), to the community coming together to support each other even more often, more is often being done with less. One of these good news stories is the continued steps toward opening by breweries in all four Atlantic provinces, with the latest being in Nova Scotia. Delta Force Brewing is today’s Good News Story, as they launch their brewery and beer store. Just like the US military group of the same name, they are shrouded in secrecy, but we managed to pull back the veil just enough to bring you more information. Best to destroy this device after reading, though, lest they come after you!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
We are basically the brewing equivalent of an elite special forces team – fly by night secret brewing missions conducted by mysterious operators. The world will know when beer is available to buy, but no clue who, how or where it came from.

How did you get into the world of beer?
Each of the mysterious people involved first became interested in beer while at University. Brewing was a result of, well, wanting cheap beer! Kit and kilo was the name of the game back then. One of us started making our swill with their father, the other with a guy named Brian (who was actually named Geoff). Eventually the two became united in their production of swill – shortly thereafter it was decided to learn to make good beer or quit. The rest is history.

What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
Well, at a certain point we realized if we didn’t just open a brewery, then we’ve wasted a hell of a lot of time.

Delta Force Recruitment Poster

What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
Fly by night and keep your friends close, but enemies closer.

Can you tell us about the beers you have launched with today?
We have two beers that we intend to release regularly. Anderlecht is a 6.0% ABV Belgian single that goes through secondary fermentation/conditioning with Brettanomyces Lambicus. Mean Time is a 4.8% ABV English bitter, dry hopped with hops grown at the brewery. It also goes through secondary fermentation, though the strain of Brettanomyces is going to change batch to batch.
We will also continuously be experimenting with what we call our Operation series. The first of which is Operation Stronghold – a West Coast IPA with more than a dozen different hop varieties. Lots more to come!

Enough talk, how can people get your beer? On tap at licensees? In a secret unmarked location? Bottles via non-contact drone delivery?
When was the last time you went to a bar? Yeah, they’re all closed. Sigh. Given the current state of the world, who really knows. Our focus will be bottled product, with at least our first release distributed via home delivery.

3-Pack of Beer

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
Not directly, but we’ve been around the industry for many years and learned from many, many different people along the way.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
Ideally on top a mountain of skulls collected from our vanquished foes. You know, the usual.

Do you have an approximate opening date?
Now…..ish. [ed note: duh]

DF Apr 2020 Bottle Release

Let’s get nerdy! Tell us about your brewhouse and facility? What size/manufacturer/type of system are you be brewing on? How about expected output?
We like the folks at this blog, and to tell you… well I think you see where this is headed.

We appreciate that! We’ll just say “brewing in a farmshed, somewhere in Nova Scotia”. How about your brewing history?
This is our first official commercial venture, but we’ve been kicking around the HRM homebrew/beer judging scene for over a decade.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Fortunately, there are far too many good local breweries to list and we wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. As far as styles, we’re down to clown with anything well made.

How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
We brew exclusively with traditional farmshed ingredients.

Thank you to G and J from Delta Force for the fun Profile. As you can tell, these guys list to joke around (it IS beer, after all), but we can tell you that their beer is no joke, and worth grabbing. Those in HRM (this delivery area may be a bit flexible, reach out them them!) can take part in the fun by jumping on the launch beers, available as a trio, delivered to your door this weekend for $25. Just fire them an email (deltaforcebrewing@gmail.com) with your request, name and address, and they’ll let you know the total, and the schedule. Keep an eye on their website , as well as Social Media (Fb, Ig, Tw) for the latest news, plus we’ll do our best to keep uncovering the mystery and sharing it with you all!