Profiles

Stellarton’s A.J. Leadbetter is no stranger to small business. His father owned and operated a painting business in Stellarton for 60-some-odd years, after which AJ ran the family shop himself until a fire severely damaged the storefront in 2015. Meanwhile, he also expressed a love for music, playing guitar in bands around Pictou County for the better part of the last decade. After discovering craft beer and developing a home brewing hobby, AJ spent some time working at Uncle Leo’s in Lyon’s Brook, where he gained an appreciation for the processes and work involved in a production brewery. Now, he’s blending his entrepreneurial spirit and musical bent along with his love of beer and an intensely DIY approach to bring a second brewery to the PC, this one “in town” on Bridge Avenue in Stellarton in the building that formerly housed his family’s paint shop. Backstage Brewing Co. is built around the idea of bringing folks backstage, to see the show behind the show. AJ has been busily building his brewery over the last several months, and is poised to start selling beer in September. We reached out to ask him our usual gamut of questions and get the story behind Backstage Brewing.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get into the world of beer?
I started home brewing a few years ago after my friend Seth got me into it. Started out brewing a few kit beers before getting bored and wanting to get in deep. I’m a bit of a foodie so that desire to create food led to wanting to create beers.

What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
Prior to getting into brewing beer we used to do chicken wing parties. Then we introduced my beer to these parties and the reception to them was great. It was that support that sparked the fire to get going on a microbrewery.

Can you tell us about the beers you plan on offering initially?
We have 4-5 that will be in our core line-up. Daydreamer is a pale ale that comes in at 4.8% and 21 IBU. Hangover Helper is an American Pale, 5.3% and 40 IBU; light-bodied and packed with flavor. Headliner is big juicy IPA. It’s 6.3% and 60 IBU. Gemini is a DIPA. 8% and 100+ IBU. It’s big! It’s bitter! And surprisingly easy to drink! Nunmoar Black IPA is 6.6% and 75 IBU. Roasted, Hoppy, and Black. How much more black can it be? None.

What are your plans for distribution? Plans for tap accounts, bottles, growlers, etc.? Will you be licensed for on-site sales or consumption at the brewery?
Right now, our plan is to sell the majority of the beer out of the brewery: we’ll be offering growler fills of our beers, and operating a taproom, located in the same building as the brewery. Once all our permits are in place, we will have 12 taps of Nova Scotia craft beer, with 4-5 taps reserved for Backstage Brews.

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We don’t have any local tap accounts lined up but have had interest in Halifax.

Do you have an approximate launch date?
Our tanks are installed and we’ve been working on filling them. That will hopefully have us selling our products for early September, when we’re hoping to do a soft launch.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
Yes, I’ve been working for Uncle Leo’s since November 2016. What started as hanging out at the brewery turned into a full time job. Karl and Rebecca have been very good to me. The experience/knowledge I’ve gathered while working in a commercial brewery is kind of priceless. We purchased our brew house from Peter at North Brewing. Peter and Josh have been great. The craft beer community in Nova Scotia is very helpful.

In terms of putting the brewery and business together, my wife Beth’s parents, Wayne and Lynn, have been instrumental. Wayne is our head of construction and Lynn is our bookkeeper.

What type of system are you be brewing on?
It’s a 2.5bbl Psychobrew system. We are hoping to produce 250-300bbl this year.

Care to share some info on your homebrewing history?
It’s the classic “homebrewer turned pro brewer” story. I homebrewed and people enjoyed the finished beers. Beth has been my biggest supporter and really pushed me to make this happen.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Honestly, I love big hoppy beers. West coast-style IPAs being my favorite. I never seem to grow tired of them.

Do you have a website, Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter page?
We have no website at this point, we have a Facebook page here, that just went live in the last couple weeks. We also have an instagram account, @backstagebrewingco

We’ve been totally focused on making the brewery happen. The social media presence will come. Beer first.

Anything else you’d like to share? We’d love pass it along.
We look forward to getting our beers out there for people to enjoy. Thanks for the support so far!

Thanks to AJ for taking the time to answer our questions about Backstage Brewing and letting us know what he’s got in the works. We’ll be keeping our collective ear to the ground for an official opening announcement and we’ll share it with you as soon as we know. Meanwhile, the best way to follow AJ’s progress is on Instagram where you can see the hard work, creativity and skill that’s going into his brewery and taproom. You’ll also have a chance to hear a more extensive interview with AJ by the gang from 902 BrewCast, currently scheduled to drop on September 19th.

Rothesay’s newest brewery, Long Bay Brewery, launched with a soft opening in late June. Owned by husband and wife team Sean Doyle and Julie Young, the brewery has spent the summer filling growlers of their two flagship beers for locals and tourists passing through. We recently chatted with Sean, who is also the brewer, to find out a little more about what makes Long Bay tick, and what they have planned for thirsty New Brunswickers in the coming months…

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
We both grew up in the area and are here to stay. We spend most of our free time chasing our three sons around, tending our large vegetable garden, and taking care of our chickens.

How did you get into the world of beer?
When craft beer first started to become available it was tough to come by, and we didn’t necessarily have the money to spend on it either, so we had to take matters into our own hands. After a few years goofing around with brewing kits, I built an electric all grain system at our house to really dial in a few recipes. I spent a big part of my career as a biologist, so I really connected well with brewing and became deeply interested in the biology and chemistry involved in making good beer. With my love for the craft, and Julie’s experience in customer service, we decided to make the jump.

What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
Our culture here is all about making the best beer we can, by using high end ingredients. I know this sounds like your same old story, but we take it to great lengths. For instance, we only use liquid cultures of yeast, we choose to use specialized imported grain by the bag instead of solely 2-row, and we use really high quality hops from a local supplier that are spot-on. This mindset certainly isn’t cheap, but when I was home brewing I decided pretty early on that if I was going to put in 10+ hours brewing a batch, I wasn’t going to do it without the best ingredients I could get. We definitely brought that same ethos with us here to the brewery.

Long Bay Brewery, 82 Marr Rd, Rothesay, NB

Can you tell us about the beers you’ve launched with? Any plans for seasonals or one-offs in the works?
At first we are offering two core beers:

Bantam APA – This is a recipe we had brewed at home for years. It’s a 5.5% ABV Pale Ale that has huge hop aroma, but is quite low in bitterness (40 IBUs). It’s a very approachable, dry beer that we always had on hand at home in both the winter and summer months, and it became a staple style for us. We use Cascade and Centennial hops supplied by Darlings Island Farm, where the owner (Josh Mayich) pelletizes them under low temperatures before packaging, which really preserves the hop oil and makes for a really unique aroma in the final beer. We also use Citra, which is an amazing hop for any hop forward ale, in our opinion.

Chalice Belgian Ale – This beer is a super dry, deceivingly strong beer that was also a popular beer for us at home. To me, yeast selection is just as important to a Belgian beer as hop selection is to make an IPA, so it took years for me to find the right strain. So, to make this beer exactly the way I liked in bigger batches, I had to send my house Belgian yeast strain to Escarpment Labs to be grown up to commercial sizes. It’s a 6.5% ABV Belgian Blond ale, with all of the aromatic characters you would expect from a Belgian beer. It has been really well received with our customers so far, so we will definitely keep this in the core lineup.

We have a 7% ABV IPA and a Berliner Weisse in the works as well, and I hope to have them ready in the next month or so.

How can people enjoy your beer?
Our big push is to get our beer in bottles in ANBL stores. We bought a small bottler from the folks at Boxing Rock, and are working at getting it up and running. We also plan to have a few pubs in the Saint John area as well soon, but for now, we are selling growlers only at the brewery and don’t have seating for consumption on-site.

Growlers are available at the brewery now, with bottles and kegs available soon

What are the days/hours of the retail location?
We are open Wednesday and Thursday 3pm-8pm, and Friday and Saturday 12pm-8pm. We are closed Sunday-Tuesday for brewing operations.

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers on tap?
We have had a few conversations with pubs, but don’t want to go too far until we get a few more batches on. We will be reaching out to accounts here soon.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
We have had a bunch of help from Henry at Boxing Rock. He is really good technically and was a great guy to ask tough questions about steam boiler setup and brewing equipment in general. Another person that helped was Esty (Andrew Estabrooks) from Foghorn Brewing just down the road from us. That guy has a ton of brewing experience and was a huge help with hiccups in scaling up to big brewing gear. This industry is great for support from other brewers and we are definitely going to be the same way when any other brewery needs help.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
In the next 2-3 years I would like to see us stay right in the we are, but with a few more tanks and a few more recipes dialed in nicely and available in bottles. Really the big thing is I hope the smoke clears a bit so we can get time to experiment a bit with things like Brettanomyces cultures, and make a few solid funky wild beers while keeping the core beers rolling.

For us beer nerds:

What size/manufacturer/type of system are you brewing on? Expected output (monthly, yearly, etc)?
We have a 15 bbl (~1750 L) steam-powered DME brewhouse with 30 bbl (~3500 L) fermentors. We wanted the ability to put out a large volume of beer if demand increases so we went as big as we could. Based on advice from other brewers this was the best way to go.

Long Bay’s 15 BBL brewhouse, from Charlottetown’s DME

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
My wife and I are really into sour and wild beers. The most enjoyable beers I’ve ever made were ones that sat tucked away for a year with Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces in a keg. I know it’s going to be tough to pull anything off like that on big gear since we can’t tie up tanks very long, but eventually we will find a way.

How about a favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
Not sure if you would consider yeast an ingredient (Ed: sure we would!), but to me it is by far the most important and interesting addition to any beer. I have brewed with a huge number of the yeast strains available to brewers and feel like it’s the differences between strains and how to use them that makes brewing interesting.

Thanks to Sean for answering our questions, and best wishes to he and Julie on Long Bay’s endeavors! Be sure to stop by the brewery at 82 Marr Rd in Rothesay for a couple of growler fills at the times mentioned above, and keep your eyes open for their Bantam APA and Chalice Belgian Ale in bottles in the coming weeks. Follow along with the new releases and licensee sales on their social media pages too: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Congratulations!

Half Cocked Brewing is a small brewery launching this week in North Grant, located 6 kilometres North of the town of Antigonish, NS, on Highway 245. Partners Greg Oicle and Matt Thompson have been enjoying flavourful beers for years, during their travels and work across the country, and have “come home to roost” in the region. We caught up with Greg and Matt to learn more about their interest in beer, the first offerings from Half Cocked, and their plans for the future.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Brewer Greg Oicle and Hop Grower Matt Thompson have partnered at the old Oicle chicken farm, which will be the location of the brewery and hop farm.  Greg, a St FX alumnus and geologist by trade,  spent time in the oil patch before moving to Ontario.  Matt, a recent transplant to Antigonish, moved back to the motherland after a near decade in Victoria BC where he honed his arborist skills, and grew as much food as humanly possible.

How did you get into the world of beer?
Greg: I had a Howe Sound Devil’s Elbow IPA in Fort McMurray (probably due to its huge size) and really enjoyed it. I then starting buying that and Granville Island stuff, because it was all that was available there.  In Ontario, I got into Flying Monkeys, Collective Arts, Muskoka, etc and haven’t looked back from there.
Matt: The first craft beer I had was likely an early Picaroons keg in residence in Fredericton. Before moving out west, I was heavy into the Pics Irish Red and Best Bitter.  In Victoria, I was quickly seduced by the hops; a fresh Driftwood Fat Tug IPA is still near the top of my list.

What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
We had been homebrewing because it was too hard to get the beer we wanted in town.  We enjoyed Big Spruce but it was still a 2 hr drive away.  After a while, we thought our brews were getting pretty good and friends were also encouraging us to go in that direction.  We knew we weren’t the only ones interested in local, fresh, beer, and live in a community that really supports local businesses, so we decided to go for it.

Half Cocked Brewing, formerly Oicle Chicken Farm

What is the ethos of the brewery?
We craft American style ales with quality ingredients.  Obviously, taste is important, but also getting the most out of all the ingredients.  We started brewing with Horton Ridge malt almost the same time we got the Sabco BrewMagic in order to get our recipes right where we want them.  Often, the sweetness of the malt gets overpowered by hop craziness, so we strive to keep it a big part of the flavour profile.

Can you tell us about the beers you plan on offering initially? Any seasonals or beer “series” in the works?
We are launching with five beers this week:
Cock of the Walk – 6.5% India Black Ale (or black IPA). A nice combination of dark malt roastiness, big hop flavour and nice bitterness.
XPA – 6% Extra Pale Ale.  A floral and citrus nose leads to a sharp hop bite, followed by a biscuity sweetness and drinks like your favorite West Coast Pale.  Brewed with a grist featuring Horton Ridge 2 Row, bittered with Warrior while Centennial, Citra, Mosaic, and Cascade are added for flavor and aroma.   Matt swears this beer stays on your palate 2 or 3 sips longer than most beers, but we will let you be the judge of that.
Pete’s Sake– 4.5% Blonde Ale. Very approachable.  Perceived bitterness is minimal, light and refreshing.  We all know a Pete; small town guy who drinks the same beer his dad does, enjoys supporting local, wants to get on that craft beer wave but doesn’t know where to start.  Well, we brewed this beer for Pete’s Sake!
Fruit Cocked Ale – 5% Fruit Beer. Our take on a Radler, it comes in higher than a trad rad at 5%, and is made with grapefruit juice.  The name was suggested to us by a local homebrewer and while perfect, Greg maintains we would have thought of it on our own someday.
We will be experimenting with IPA and Double IPA recipes, as well as doing a harvest- or fresh-hopped beer from Matt’s already-established plants at his home, and going forward with hops grown here in our hopyard.
The first of these beers is a 7.7% Imperial IPA, which was also the first beer brewed under our much-awaited excise licence.  It is a sneaky little troublemaker, featuring hop darling Mosaic crafted using 2 Row, Munich, and Vienna malt from Horton Ridge, appropriately called Wait for It.

How will folks be able enjoy your beer?
We will be easing into it filling growlers once or twice a week, as stock permits.  Once we see how quickly it moves out of the barn, we may begin to circulate some kegs around the region, and start hitting up the Farmers’ Market circuit.  Plans for a tasting room are in the works sometime in the next year, along with what we are sure will be a much needed size increase in our system and production capacity.

Chicken (currently raw) and Beer

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
Like we said, it’s gonna be a little while before the beer can leave the barn, but when it does you can be sure it will pop up on the guest tap at the Townhouse in Antigonish and possibly at the Horton Ridge tap room.  Our XPA and Cock of the Walk IBA both have malt bills which are predominantly Horton Ridge malts.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada?
Like most of the new breweries that have started up the last year or so, we have done a lot of visiting/brain picking/pestering of most of the breweries in the province.  All have been very welcoming and supportive as we have worked our way towards opening.  Terry and Rose at the Townhouse deserve special mention, Terry allowed us to brew on his BrewMagic a couple of times, so we could get some feedback on our recipes and start to brew up a little buzz for the brewery.  Jeremy at Big Spruce heard from us a lot in the beginning and helped encourage us to go for it,  Jeff Saunders from Bad Apple Brewhouse showed us how much you can do on your own, Mark and Sean at Lunn’s Mill helped us with a lot of the start up logistics and let us pour for them at Beer and Bites to get a taste of the other side of the table.  Most recently Greg got to spend some time with Greg Nash of Unfiltered and talk water chemistry and all things brewing.  We’ve been to TataBrew, Uncle Leo’s, 2 Crows, Tidehouse, Backstage, Sober Island and everyone has been very positive and helpful and we cant wait to be a part of such a vibrant industry in our province.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
Hopefully with a 7-10 barrel system, cranking out delicious brews and serving pints from our own tap room.  We would like to tap into the potential of our area and put as much of the 9000 sq ft barn we occupy to use.  We plan to have year round events, there are already 5 km of trails behind the barn that are perfect for snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

David Oicle, Matt Thompson, Greg Oicle, and their Sabco BrewMagic

For the beer nerds:

What type of system will you be brewing on?
We are starting on the Sabco BrewMagic, it’s a 1/2 barrel (60 litre) system, so we know we will be working our butts of in the beginning.  Our yearly output will be approximately 80 barrel, or 100 hectolitres.

Care to share some info on your homebrewing history?
Greg and his brother Dave had been homebrewing for a couple years now, which started as trying to brew a beer they really liked, prompted by having a somewhat limited selection in the NSLC at the time.  That quickly became more focused on developing recipes we liked and thought other people would like as well. When we got the BrewMagic in October, we really started to focus on specifics as we dialed in our recipes.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Greg: My tastes in craft beer started with the biggest IPAs I could get my hands on.  The higher the IBUS and ABV, the better!  My tastes have changed a bit and I’ve learned to appreciate more styles.  Now I can usually go for a well crafted pale ale.  Collective Arts Rhyme and Reason is a favorite as well as the American Pale Ale from Bad Apple Brewhouse.
Matt: That’s a tough one, I like IPAs of course, but definitely enjoy a variety of sours and strong dark beers like Imperial stouts and Barleywines.  While I enjoy a variety of beers and breweries from around the world/country/province, I would be lying to you and myself if I didn’t say I’d love to crush DOA at Charm School in some kind of wonderful Groundhog day scenario.

How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
We are currently enjoying making big hoppy IPAs for fun and pushing our little system to the limit.  We have also enjoyed using the unique malts coming out of Horton Ridge and tailoring our beers to get the taste profiles we desire

Now that we’ve got everyone thirsty, how can they enjoy your beer?
We are launching our first five beers tomorrow (Friday, August 4th) at the Townhouse in Antigonish, and will be on-hand to talk shop and beer from 4pm. We hope to have our first growler filling days at the barn in early August (but having written that down, anything can happen now). Stay tuned!

Thanks to Greg and Matt for taking time out of their busy schedule to tell us all about Half Cocked! Keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest releases and news, including their first growler sales later this month. Congratulations guys!

Heritage Brewing Company celebrated its soft opening this past weekend at 19 Kirk Street in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Heritage is the brainchild of four friends from the Yarmouth area, who, after years of homebrewing and toying with the idea of going pro, decided to make good on their plans. We caught up with partner Jason Murphy to learn more about Heritage’s past, present, and future.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
We are four friends who decided to get together and open this brewery, all hailing from the Yarmouth area. Jeff and Albert are both teachers, Jason is a vice principal, and Drew works in heating and ventilation.

How did you get into the world of beer?
Albert and I (Jason) went to an NSTU function, where various businesses were invited to come and promote their products. The Yarmouth Brewing Centre (an excellent homebrew supply shop in town) was there, and sold us on the idea of “Just Add Yeast And Water” boxed beer kits. We thought we were making great, cheap, beer and were feeling pretty good about ourselves until we went to Rudder’s and had their IPA! It was an excellent beer, and we decided we needed to do better than our boxed kits. We bought two turkey fryers, a mesh bag for BIAB and some grains, hops, and yeast. Over time, we have slowly built up from a 5 gallon homebrew BIAB system with plastic bottles for packaging, to a 55 Gallon Blichmann RIMS system and kegs.

What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
We have been talking about it for years, we love the craft beer we have tried around the province, but one thing we kept saying was that our beer was as high quality as some of the bigger craft breweries. I (Jason) have always been a bit self-conscious about our beer, but as we kept giving more and more out, to more and more people, we kept feeling more confident and encouraged to move forward with it.

What is the ethos of Heritage Brewing Company?
We want to show our pride in our community ,and our love for beer. All of us are from Yarmouth; some of us moved away for a number of years, and have come back to settle down and have families.
I think our logo is a play on the idea of our love for beer combined with a well-known Yarmouth landmark. We had a friend who came up with the idea, and a great local artist (Danielle Mahood) who drew it up for us.
We, like other small breweries, believe every town should have a locally-owned and -operated brewery. We want people to buy beer, and talk about beer, with the people that actually make their beer! We want to be a part of a positive change in our downtown area and help build the economy in our home town.
As we start to release names for our beer you will also see many of them reflect the history and culture in Yarmouth.

Do you have an approximate opening date?
After our soft opening this past weekend, we will be open Thursday afternoons 4-8PM and Saturdays 10AM-4PM. We will make it a rather quiet affair, to see what kind of kinks we run into, before we do a grand opening in the next couple weeks.

Can you tell us about the beers you currently have available?
We are starting with an Amber Ale, Blonde Ale, Session IPA and a Stout. As a small brewery, we believe we have the flexibility to respond quickly to our customers’ tastes and we have excellent Cream Ale, Double IPA, Porter, Brown, Red, and Strawberry Rhubarb Wheat recipes all ready to go. (In fact, we have our Red and Cream Ale in fermenters at the moment, along with Rhubarb in the freezer).
We are really excited to offer our Strawberry Rhubarb Wheat. We made it last summer, it was so much work and so messy we swore we would never make it again no matter how good it was. After tasting and giving some away, the feedback was so positive we have already started freezing rhubarb and tracking down strawberries.

What are your plans for distribution? How can folks enjoy your beer?
We are offering growler fills (both 0.95 and 1.89 litres) on site, along with tasters (4oz). We have been in discussion with local establishments to have our beer available to customers on tap and in bottles, distributing bottles to restaurants in the coming weeks. We do not have a tap room at this time, but we do have hopes and plans for expansion.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
Yes, I think it is really important to thank the guys at Tidehouse Brewing Company. We have sent them an awful lot of messages and questions and they have been extremely helpful and quick to give advice.
Alan from Meander River Farm and Brewery allowed us to spend a day there talking beer while he gave us tips and pointers, which were really helpful in completing our business plan.
As fellow teachers, we made contact with Schoolhouse Brewery as well, and Cam was more than willing to talk beer with us, and give us advice that we really appreciated.
We have been blown away with the support other craft brewery have been willing to give us and are really excited to be part of this industry.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next few years?
We hope that our system will be too small to keep up, and we will be able to expand rather quickly and add a taproom to our brewery.

What type of system are you be brewing on?
Currently we have an electric 180 litre (1.5 BBL) system, with 8 fermenters. We hope to produce and sell at least 350 litres per week.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
I think all four of us have slightly different favourites, though our single hop Citra Session IPA is one of our personal favourites.
Between the four of us, we have been to a lot of craft breweries, especially between Yarmouth and Halifax, and we have found something we like at each one.

How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
I am a fan of heavily-hopped beers, and dark roasty beers. The Citra and Chinook hops are my favourite to work with, and our customers will taste that with our Citra Session IPA. We will also start off with a great Stout followed by a Porter and Brown ales, that will showcase my passion for dark beer.

Thanks to Jason and the Heritage crew for sitting down with us and giving us a behind-the-scenes look at their new brewery. As mentioned above, drop by the brewery today (and every Thursday) from 4-8PM and Saturdays 10-4PM to grab a taster and growler, and keep your eyes peeled on their Facebook and Twitter pages, where they’ll be sharing the newest beers available, and the details of their Grand Opening Party. Congratulations!

 

Horton Ridge Logo

The Horton Ridge Malt & Grain Company opened in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley in 2016, the first commercial malt house in Atlantic Canada. Owner Alan Stewart has been farming and running Stewart’s Organics for more than 30 years. Malting Organically-grown grains from their own fields, as well as other farms, their variety of malts and adjuncts have found buyers across the Maritimes. On Thursday, June 1, they are opening a small brewery and taproom at the Malt House, to showcase their malts in beers brewed onsite, as well as by their customers. Six taps have been installed, three of which will feature Horton Ridge brews. For the other three, Organic stalwarts Tatamagouche Brewing and Big Spruce Brewing will have dedicated taps, and the final spout will rotate through beers from other breweries that use Horton Ridge malts. We caught up with Alan to ask him some questions about how they decided to start brewing, their initial offerings and plans for the future.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am sixth generation farmer in Hortonville, with the oldest certified organic farm in the Province. I ran away from the farm after high school to get several engineering degrees, but beat it back to Hortonville upon graduation.

How did you get into the world of beer?
We came into the beer business by way of its most important ingredient, malt. We opened Atlantic Canada’s first craft malt house a year ago.

What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
Malting always made sense to me, it is a farming maneuver; we are harnessing the natural processes that occur during the germination of the seed. I did not know much about brewing, but what I did find out after a while that our malt was significantly different from macro malt that the craft brewing industry depends on. Recipe substitution was not the answer, replacing industrialized macro malt with floor malt is like replacing industrialized enriched white flour with stone ground whole wheat flour. We wanted to be part of the process whereby recipes were developed around our malts. It also did not hurt that we have a highly visible location next to Highway 101 in Nova Scotia’s bread basket with a quickly developing culinary scene.

What is the culture of the brewery?
Our brewery tag line is “From Grain to Glass”, we will be making beers from malts made on-site. We consider ourselves a malt house first, and a brewery second. Our goal is to highlight the role of agriculture in brewing by showcasing the growing and malting of grains. Another important aspect of what we do is to increase the economic footprint of brewing by allowing brewers to replace imported malts by those made here. In the fullness of time, the economics will get even better as we develop our malting grains growing capabilities. We have been able to access regionally grown grains (mostly from PEI) more quickly than we had anticipated, very happy for that. Since we have been farming organically for so long, we did not hesitate to have the organic philosophy extend to our malting and brewing operations. In our opinion we are providing the opportunity for brewers to extend their “craft” value chain. There is a cultural discontinuity of a “craft” brewing industry that relies on industrialized macro malt.

Can you tell us about the beers you plan on offering initially? Any seasonals or one-offs in the works?
We have two beers nailed down. The first is Malt House Ale, it is made of equal parts of our Two Row, Vienna & Munich malts. It is hopped with Summit. It is intentionally malty with a pronounced bready finish. The second is Rye’s Up Local, made from 50% PEI barley, 25% PEI wheat & 25% of rye that we grew ourselves. We would like to round out the pan Atlantic aspect of this beer by accessing a suitable hop from New Brunswick. We have recently started malting oats from PEI, so we are working on an Oatmeal beer. We have a good working relationship with our neighbour Just Us! Coffee, so you can look for beers finished on coffee, tea and chocolate.

Where will people be able to enjoy your beer?
We will be selling our beers out of our taproom only. We will sell them in flights, pints & growlers & bottles.

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We have absolutely no plans to sell our beers outside of our taproom, with the possible exception of winter growler sales at the Wolfville Farmers Market (where I was a vendor for 23 years). We purposely undersized our brewery to leave room to bring in beers that our brewery customers make with our malts. At least half of our taps will be those beers. All of the beers served out of our taproom will be based on our malts.

Have you had any assistance from breweries in Atlantic Canada?
We did not want to get drawn into the “beer style” thingy right off the bat, we wanted to let the beers end up where our malts took them. To that end we employed the DIY approach. We certainly appreciate the support from our largest malt customers, Big Spruce and Tatamagouche Brewing.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
At the moment we have no plans to scale up, we want to continue to highlight malt forward beers to our taproom patrons and malt customers, and to provide an outlet for the beers made by our customers.

Switching gears to the brewing system, what type of system will you be brewing on, and what is your expected output?
We have a 120 litre system from Stout Tanks & Kettles, brewing 3-4 times per week during the summer.

Can you tell us about who will be running the brewhouse?
Our brewer Stephen Mastrioanni has been brewing for 2 years, and has been brewing with our malts from day one. He has a good handle on the malt.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
I do happen to like malty beers, have gotten over hops. My “go to” brewery is Sea Level, it is close by, and I appreciate Randy’s support along the way. I also look forward to the offerings of Tata & Big Spruce that we bring back after making deliveries there.

How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
Of course, for us, it’s all about the malt.

Thanks to Alan for answering our questions and sharing the details on the new brewery and taproom! Current plans are to have the taproom open 7 days a week from 11am to 8pm. Bar snacks will be available, including pickled eggs “powered by” free range hens who are fed a malt-based chicken feed sourced from Horton Ridge. They’ll also be offering 1 liter growler fills (Horton Ridge beers only) – they’re happy to sell you one or you can bring your own (clean!) one to be filled. So if you’re in the area or planning a trip that way, be sure to drop by 2504 Ridge Rd in Wolfville (the Malt House is visible from Exit 10 on the 101), and keep your eyes peeled to their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for the latest news and events.

Bagtown Logo

A brewery with a very unique genesis will be launching very shortly in Sackville, New Brunswick, home of Mount Allison University – it began as a project in Dr. Nauman Farooqi’s third-year commerce class in entrepreneurship and is fully owned and operated by MtA students! With a name that reflects the brewery’s home (Bagtown being a longtime nickname for Sackville), and a logo that evokes the Sackville Waterfowl Park, Bagtown proudly wears its origins on its sleeve. Their first beer, the Wobbly Duck English Pale Ale, was released at Ducky’s on April 1st where the first keg sold out in 40 minutes! An official launch party for the brewery will happen at 9pm this Saturday night, April 8th, also at Ducky’s. Earlybird tickets will be available at the brewery Thursday, April 6, from 3-7pm, that will provide access at 8pm on Saturday. A $10 ticket will get you 2 beers, and $15 will get you the same two beers plus a Bagtown branded pint glass to take home.

We asked the team behind Bagtown to answer a few questions about their brewery and their plans.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
We are a brewery that is fully owned and operated by 14 students that has come out of an Entrepreneurship class at Mount Allison University. While 12 of the students will be graduating at the end of this year, Brewmaster Anthony Maddalena has stepped up to follow his passion, committing to a 5th year in Sackville and taking ownership control of the brewery. The other members of the team will remain shareholders, coming out of their undergraduate careers with an investment and a company start-up experience on their respective resumes.

How did you get into the world of beer?
Basically the first day of class, we had to think of some ideas of what we were going to do for our entrepreneurial venture. There were a few ideas tossed around and the one that intrigued most of us was a brewery – a venture that no one had ever done before. Because we had 2 people in our class that had brewed beer before we decided to go for it.

What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
A couple of the students in our class brewed beer this past summer in Sackville. One of them has a brother who is in the beer industry and has worked with Moosehead as a Production Manager. Because of this, there was a lot of knowledge that was passed down, which has been a fantastic resource for the company to use.

When is your launch date?
We had originally hoped to launch at the beginning of March, but unanticipated delays in the listing process pushed our opening date into April. The first keg of our beer to be served to the public was tapped at Ducky’s in Sackville last weekend and we’re doing an official launch party this Saturday night at 9pm.

What are your plans for distribution? Will you be licensed for on-site sales or consumption at the brewery?
To date, we have our brewer’s license and our ANBL listing, and have are in the process of getting our brewer’s agency license. Our plan for now is to sell kegs to restaurants and bars in the area to get our beer out to the public. Once we have our brewer’s agency license, we will be able to sell growlers from our storefront at 62 Main St, in the Sackville Commons C0-op complex. We will not be licensed right away for on-site consumption, however maybe down the road this could be a possibility. Our main focus for the time being is getting our beer in the public’s hands!

Do you have some initial tap accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
In addition to Ducky’s, we have talked to Joe and the Crow (Joey’s Pizzeria & Pasta / Split Crow Pub Sackville), who are both on board to have our beer on tap.

Can you tell us about the beer you plan on offering initially? Any seasonals or one-offs in the works?
The beer that we plan on initially offering in an English Pale Ale called the Wobbly Duck! The beer is medium-bodied with a low carbonation. It is golden in colour with a moderate hop aroma and a mild bitterness. You will be able to taste a mix of fruity, earthy and malty flavours with a smooth finish! We have thought about producing a cranberry beer that our brewmasters have fiddled with, however it is not on the radar quite yet as we want to get our first beer underway. There have also been some other ideas tossed out such as a maple beer, but we will have to see what comes in the future!

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
Tatamagouche Brewing has been a huge help for us. They have answered a lot of our questions and have been a fantastic resource on our journey thus far. We have had so many other great resources as well with people reaching out and letting us know that if they can offer any assistance they are willing to help.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
Hopefully our brewery will become a success and grow to offer multiple different kinds of beer and become a staple in the town of Sackville.

What size/manufacturer/type of system will you be brewing on? Expected output (monthly, yearly, etc)?
We currently brew on a 40 litre system. Monthly out will be approximately 1000 litres.

Bagtown swag

Care to share some info on your homebrewing history?
We have experience homebrewing from last summer and fall. The experience provided us with the information we’ve needed in order to develop our recipe and refine our production process in order for it to be as efficient as possible.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Definitely enjoy drinking lighter craft beers such as Garrison Irish Red or Picaroons Blonde. Something that is flavourful but also easy to drink.

How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
We love to use Cascade hops in our pale ale. It is a very versatile hop that can add a lot of character to your brew.

Anything else you’d like to share, we’d love pass it along?
We want to thank everyone for their support thus far in our journey and we cannot wait until we finally get our beer into the public’s hands!

Bagtown first pints!

 

Thanks to the Bagtown crew for sitting down with us. Be sure to drop by Ducky’s Saturday evening to grab a pint of Wobbly Duck Pale Ale. Keep up to date with growler sales launch, additional events and new beer releases on their social media pages: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The little town of Montague, PEI (located on the eastern end of the Island) is going to be getting a lot bigger this coming summer… at least, beer-wise! Husband and wife team Ken Spears and Ashley Condon announced early this month that they plan on opening Copper Bottom Brewing sometime by mid-summer. This is one of two breweries scheduled to open in Montague in 2017 (the other being Montague Brewing), with Ken and Ashley planning to focus on live music, as well as beer, in the brewery’s accompanying tap room. We’ve recently exchanged emails with Ken to find out what the couple have in store for when the brewery launches this summer…

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
I am a Red Seal electrician turned brewer originally from Nova Scotia. My wife, Ashley Condon, is an award-winning songwriter and touring musician originally from Murray Harbour North, PEI. We live in the woods in rural PEI just outside of Montague and have a cat named Fiona. We enjoy hiking, the beach, and Ashley does yoga in the upper part of the “Brewdio” (the barn on our property that houses the “nanobrewery” and yoga/music studio)

How did you get into the world of craft beer?
I fell in love with craft beer in 2003 when I landed a job at Propeller Brewing in Halifax. The owner, John Allen, became a mentor to me, offering advice and inspiring me to follow my passion. Ashley fell in love with craft beer by proxy and by travelling around North America as a musician visiting local microbreweries. When we travel together we spend lots of time visiting local breweries as well, and have grown to love the whole craft beer scene together which is pretty cool.

What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
Ashley and I moved to PEI in 2011. The move inspired change and I quickly realized PEI was the perfect place to open a microbrewery. I also realized that PEI needed more options for craft beer. Having been exposed to the thriving craft beer scene in Nova Scotia, I was excited to see how PEI’s craft beer scene could grow as well. I also felt like my love of brewing could be an asset to the community and allow me to follow my passion.

Care to share some info on your homebrewing history?
I love experimenting with new beer styles and playing with the flavours. The brewhouse is currently a converted 50 litre keg, propane-fired nano brewery. As mentioned previously, we call our barn the “Brewdio” because it’s a brewery and music/yoga studio in one.

Do you have an approximate launch date?
We are aiming so serve our first pint mid-summer 2017.

What size/manufacturer/type of system will you be brewing on? Expected output (monthly, yearly, etc)?
We have a DME 10 BBL (~1170 L) system that has 7000 L cellar capacity to start with, and room to grow.

What are your plans for distribution? Plans for tap accounts, bottles, growlers, etc.? Are you licensed for on-site sales?
We will have several tap accounts across the Island with growler fills from the brewery, and eventually cans distributed to PEILCC stores. Our tap room – which overlooks the Montague river – will be set up for pints served daily.

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
Stay tuned!

Can you tell us about the beer(s) you plan on offering initially? Are you planning on offering a specific style, or genres (Belgian, English, etc), of beer? Any seasonals, one-offs, or will you stick mainly with a “flagship lineup”?
We are committed to a wide variety of styles to keep our options open for experimenting. We will have flagships and we have planned for exciting one-off brews and smaller batches. Keep up-to-date on our Brews News blog on our website. We will be documenting the entire building process as well.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
We have been in touch with several brewers across the country and everyone has been really helpful. In particular, John Allen (Propeller Brewing in Halifax), Jeremy White (Big Spruce in Cape Breton), Don Campbell (Barnone in PEI), Simon Livingston (L’Espace Public in Montreal) and Mitch Cobb and Mike Hogan (Upstreet in PEI).

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
We will be distributing across PEI and collaborating with other breweries. We also hope to be a hub in our community, hosting monthly events and growing our networks within the artistic and brewing communities.

Do you have a favourite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
I love dark, malty beers as well as light and hoppy… and sour beers are changing my life!

How about a favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
I love brewing with the American “C” hops and Maris Otter malt.

It’s fantastic to see yet another craft brewery planned to open in PEI, and we’re looking forward to hearing more from Ken and Ashley over the coming months, with updates on their progress! Be sure to follow along on their website, as well as their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and of course we’ll be sure to include any news in our weekly Friday Wrap-Up.