The story of the Pump House Brewery is the story of a dream come true. The husband and wife team of Shaun and Lilia Fraser opened the Pump House in September 1999 fulfilling Shaun’s long term dream of opening his own brewery. Shaun actually appeared on the “Thrill of a Lifetime” television show in the 1980s when he was given the chance to brew beer at a Labatt’s plant after his inability to land a job with any of the big breweries. While in didn’t turn into a full time gig (Shaun didn’t have the food science or chemical engineering background required to be a brew master at the plant; his education is as a Geologist) it started him off on his journey to owning his own brewery and eventually winning Canadian Brewery of the Year. I sat down with Shaun for a conversation at the brewery on Mill Road in Moncton to complete this post.
As is often the case, Shaun spent a few years homebrewing before brewing commercially. Over the three to four years he was homebrewing before getting his first chance to brew professionally, he completed 100s of batches. His first professional brewing job was with HansHaus Brewery in Dieppe, N.B. in the late 1980s. The German who hired Shaun had received his Doctorate of Brewing Science at one of the best brewing schools in the world. After a couple of years working with the brewery (it closed shortly after Shaun left), he started to brew at Fat Tuesday’s in Moncton.
After a couple of years of all malt brewing, Shaun moved into the equipment side of things and worked for Charlottetown Metal Products (now known as DME). He eventually went to work for another company in the U.S. where he successfully gained over 50% market share of the craft beer equipment market in New England. He eventually moved into foreign and difficult installations world wide and helped open breweries in Ireland, England, Palestine, Israel and Kazakhstan. It was while setting up a brewery in Kazakhstan, that Shaun met his future wife Lilia. Lilia came to Moncton with Shaun on a 3 month vacation and decided to stay. Shaun showed her the beer industry and Lilia did all of the financials for the business plan for Pump House Brewery (Lilia had worked as both a Manufacturing Engineer and Undercover Policy Officer in Kazakhstan). Shaun is the idea guy and Lilia looks after the details.
The name Pump House was chosen to reflect Shaun’s role as a fireman. Shaun retired from his role as a Captain this past November after 27 and a half years of service as a fireman.
In 2004, a new brewery on Mill Road in Moncton with accompanying restaurant, the Barnyard BBQ, was opened. Lilia was responsible for the design of the location and overseas all operations at both restaurants while Shaun looks after the brewery.
The original Pump House location at 5 Orange Lane focuses on the smaller batches, creating 8 HLs at a time. The larger brewery located on Mill Road in Moncton produces 24 HL / batch. Annual volume is approximately 5000 HL.
The brewery on Mill Road is as advanced as you’ll see for a brewery this size in North America. It has a bottle washer, tunnel pasteurizer, flash pasteurizer, an EBI, and a FT50 to name a few of the features you likely won’t see in comparable breweries.
There are no immediate expansion plans for the brewery other than the addition of outdoor fermenters. This is due in large part to the much longer conditioning time required for the Premium Lager that came out late last year (the lager takes 8 weeks as opposed to 2 to 3 weeks for the ales).
Shaun and Lilia planted a vineyard three years ago near Magnetic Hill and are planning on producing wine within the next three years. They are also planning on getting into distilling within the next two years.
Pump House beer is currently available in all provinces other than Quebec (due to inflated fees charged to protect local breweries). By province, New Brunswick accounts for the largest percentage of sales followed by Alberta and Nova Scotia.
Blueberry is the top selling beer followed by Cadian Cream Ale and Fire Chief’s Red Ale while the still relatively new Premium Lager is gaining in sales. Approximately 70% of their sales is in bottled beer as opposed to draft accounts.
Shaun and Lilia are looking to expand their premium line and also to start offering different seasonal beers in either bottles or cans. Pump House does have a canning line in place but it has not gone into production as of yet (the machine they have can package 150 cans / minute). They are planning on offering Blueberry and Thai Wheat in cans by this Fall. They also plan to offer a variety 12 pack in the foreseeable future.
Pump House currently has over 100 draft accounts and kegs can also be ordered for special events and delivered to various parts of New Brunswick.
Here’s a description of each beer taken directly from the Pump House website:
Year Round Beers:
Blueberry Ale – Blonde coloured ale with the wonderful essence of fresh blueberries. Sweet flavours of peppery blueberries, malts and spicy hops make this one a winner all the way. A one-of-a-kind refresher.
Cadian Cream Ale – A golden coloured ale lending itself to the wonderful malty aromas layered with just a kiss of spicy hops for a clean, smooth finish that will keep you coming back for more.
Fire Chief’s Red Ale – A deep tawny reddish hued Irish-inspired ale with a lingering nut-like maltiness. Very lightly hopped with a pleasant estery fruitiness expiring to wonderfully smooth finish. Slainte!
Scotch Ale – Deep brown-amber coloured with a rich smokey aroma. Flavours of caramel, chocolate and peated malts. With it’s silky smooth, lightly smokey, roasty character it is a fantastic gold medal winning example of the style.
S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter) – A deep honey-coloured unfiltered west coast style session beer with the classic fresh aromatic hop bouquet mingling with malty undertones for excellent balance finishing with a pleasant lingering bitterness. A great thirst quencher or the perfect buffer with spicy foods!
Pump House Premium Lager – A tribute to the Reinheitsgebot (beer purity law) of 1516, brewed using just barley, hops, yeast and water. Cold aged and matured for more than six weeks, there are no adjuncts, or artificial carbonation – resulting in a 100% natural lager.
Biere de Garde (January)
A Belgian/French ale style, chestnut brown in colour. Low bitterness but characterized by complex fruity esters and alcohol can be evident. 7.5% ABV
RPA – Rye Pale Ale (February)
Our Belgian style RPA has an inviting deep tawny copper colour and a spicy nose from the hefty quantity of malted rye married with the estery profile of the imported Belgian yeast. Light bodied, fruity and spicy with a lingering crisp finish. 5.0% ABV
Amber Ale (March)
Deep amber in colour with malty flavours of caramel and toffee, medium bitterness. Easing off winter’s stranger brews and into spring’s smoother ales. 5.5%-6.0% ABV
Maple Ale (April)
A malty amber ale with a twist – it’s brewed with fenugreek seeds and locally produced dark maple syrup lending a pleasant complexity with hints of maple to the brew. Medium mouthfeel with a smooth, clean finish. You know spring is here at last when this beer hits the taps! 5.0% ABV
IRA – India Red Ale (May)
Deep amber/red coloured ale dry hopped with Cascade, balanced with flavours of dark malts which give away to a smooth aftertaste. 5.7% ABV
Weizen (May, July, September)
A classic unfiltered German style wheat beer with a spicy clove-like, banana bouquet and flavour from the Weinstephan yeast strain. Malty and lightly acidic making this one very refreshing. Garnish with lemon. Prosit! 5.0% ABV
Thai-Wheat (June, August)
A blonde thirst-quenching wheat beer with the aromatic bouquet and flavours of spices, lemongrass and ginger. Lightly acidic and tart with a very clean finish. Pair it up with your favorite seafood dish or some spicy wings! 5.0 – 5.5% ABV
Raspberry Weizen (July)
A German style wheat beer bombarded with 40 kg of raspberries! This is a beer for the raspberry connoisseur – delectably tart and refreshing. Are we insane? Definitely not! 5% ABV
Reflective of the season Oktoberfest has a rich amber hue, medium body and malty bouquet. Blending together 3 roasts of barley to create a delicious harmony of sweet flavours including caramel and toffee. The elegant bitterness imparted by the German Noble hops keeps it perfectly balanced and provides a wonderful transition from the lighter beers of summer to the winter’s heartier brews. Prosit! 5.5% ABV.
Schwarzbier or “black beer” is a traditional German Style black lager. As the name implies it is black in colour yet very drinkable with subtle hints of chocolate and coffee leading into a light-bodied, clean finish. 6.5-7.5% ABV.
Winter Warmer (December)
Winter Warmer is a traditional malty-sweet English style that is brewed in the winter months and spiced with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Deep dark amber coloured with a big malt presence and lingering spicy notes. Comfort food at it’s best! 7.0% ABV
Other season brews
A fantastic English style brown ale laced with star anise! Strong bouquet of licorice and mint meld beautifully with the malt complexities and fruity undertones of this inviting but off-centered ale. Not your average brown ale! 5.0% ABV
A big Russian Imperial Stout married with fresh locally roasted espresso beans, peated malt and demerara sugar. Dark and velvety with hints of spice, fruit, smoke, chocolate, raisins, roasted malts and espresso in the finish. Full bodied with a smooth warming finish. Think globally – drink locally! 10.0% ABV
Our Baltic Porter has a light roastiness with hints of fruit, smoke, plums, and chocolate. Medium bodied with a smooth and warm lingering finish. A perfect sipper to counter the cold New Brunswick winter. 8.2% ABV
Dementia Double IPA
This is pure hop bliss brewed with insane quantities of west coast hops! Every sip of this beer is akin to diving into a truck load of freshly picked hops, directly before the hefty kick of alcohol begins to numb your brain. The insanity sauce is brewed with Cascade, Amarillo, Tomahawk, Northern Brewer and Columbus Hops. Big, bold and sticky! 8.2% ABV. 100+ IBU’s
Hop Mess – Harvest Ale
An all organic wet-hopped imperial red harvest ale. Brewed with over 50kg of fresh, locally grown hand picked organic hops which are in the brew kettle within 24 hours of being harvested. 7% ABV.
Jumpers’ Freefall Ale
Copper coloured with good malty aroma, hints of honey and almond. Medium bodied with a well balanced crisp finish. This unique style is dedicated to all beer loving Canadian skydivers. 5.2% ABV
A dark unfiltered German style wheat beer with a spicy clove-like, banana bouquet and flavour from the Weinstephan yeast strain. Malty with a touch of roastiness, chocolate undertones and a lightly acidic finish. Prosit. 5.0% ABV.
The Pump House offers a mug club. To join, you pay $20 for the mug and then $24 for the year (or pro-rated based on when you join). Joining the mug club entitles you to a larger mug for the cost of a regular pint and is in the shape of a fire hydrant. There is a also free Christmas dinner for members at the Barnyard BBQ which also includes a tour of the brewery. Mug club members were also recently given the chance to sample some hope heavy brews as part of an event in collaboration with the Atlantic Beer Festival.
Tours are available with a charge of $2 per person with a minimum of 10 people. The tour includes samples of Pump House beer and should be scheduled in advance.
Pump House beers have won numerous awards over the years including 2005 Canadian Brewery of the Year. They have been nominated three times for the Ernest & Young Entrepreneurs of the year and have been finalists for the awards twice. Lilia has been named to the Profit Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs four years running and has gone up in the rankings each year.
Shaun continues to serve as co-chair for the Atlantic Beer Festival. Pump House recently attended the recent Saint John Beer Fest and are planning to attend the Seaport Beer Festival and PEI Beer Festival.