All posts for the month July, 2015

breton logo

Breton Brewing is now open at 364 Keltic Drive in Sydney, NS. The brewery is the culmination of years of passion, planning, and preparation by homebrewers Bryan MacDonald and Andrew Morrow, both from Cape Breton. Ahead of their launch party this weekend, we wanted to share the story behind Breton Brewing, from their perspective. Both Andrew and Bryan were kind enough to respond to our questions.

ACBB: Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Bryan MacDonald: I was born and raised in Cape Breton. I graduated with Mechanical Engineering at Dalhousie in 2007, and spent 6 years in the HVAC industry doing mechanical building design. I am married and have a 16 month old son who is currently in training to be a brewer.
Andrew Morrow: I was born and raised in Sydney, NS. I graduated in 2006 from CBU with a Science degree and then from UPEI in 2009 with a Bachelor Education degree. I have been working for the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board and Community Services of Nova Scotia since 2009. I am married to my wife Jen and have a 13 month old boy Bennett.

How did you get into the world of craft beer?
Andrew: My first experience with craft beer was in PEI at the Gahan House. They opened my eyes to what the world of craft beer was all about. Since then I’ve been using my educational background to help study the art and science of the brewing industry. I am still a huge fan of the PEI Brewing Company and visit whenever I get the chance to get back to PEI.
Bryan: I think my first taste of craft beer was at Rogues Roost and Ginger’s Tavern in my university days. I have since done a fair amount of traveling and have gone to as many breweries and brewpubs as possible. I love the variety of craft beer, and am excited to now be able to share my passion for craft beer with Nova Scotia.

breton sign and tanks

Do you guys have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery?
Bryan: I love all styles, but probably love IPAs the most. I had a chance to travel to Belgium and enjoyed all of the Abbey style ales. I love the taste of a bottle conditioned beer. My favorite two breweries that I visited were both over seas: Brouwerij ‘t ij in Amsterdam, and Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels. I loved the atmosphere at “The Egg” brewery and the rustic process at Cantillon… just awesome.
Andrew: I am a big fan of dark beer. Porters, Browns, Stouts, all peak my interest. There is a depth of complexity to these styles that excites my palate. Having said that, the beer that actually started my love of craft beer was Sir John A’s Honey Wheat Ale from the PEI Brewing Company.

Can you share a bit about your homebrewing backgrounds?
Andrew: In 2009 I made my first batch of beer through the extract method. I was hooked and I knew I wanted more. I immediately gathered enough equipment to all grain brew my second batch. The authenticity of all grain brewing was so intriguing that it led me to where I am today .
Bryan: My wife got me my first homebrew kit for Christmas back in 2008, and I have been hooked ever since. I have read every book I can get my hands on, and brewed countless batches out in the driveway. I also put in about three semesters of listening on the Brewing Network, haha.

Do you have a specific ingredient in brewing that you like to brew with?
Bryan: I think my favourite ingredient to use is the Weihenstephaner W3068 Yeast. This is one of my favourite styles of beer (Hefeweizen), and it is amazing the flavours and aromas that come from this yeast.
Andrew: I am a big fan of adding adjuncts to beer. I’ve been experimenting for as long as I can remember and have produced some great beers using adjuncts. I’m also a fan of Aromatic Malt and any type of citrusy hops.

What made you decide to take the step into brewing professionally?
Andrew: I’ve always wanted to be on the business side of things and think I am well suited for that. Along with my science background, passion for brewing and the craft beer market now, it was the perfect fit.
Bryan: I have always had the itch to be entrepreneurial, and I want to do what I love every day, so it is a perfect match. It wasn’t easy taking the leap from my professional job, but my family and friends have been very supportive, and the craft beer scene is still on the rise, so the timing is right.

breton guys and brewhouse

What size/manufacturer/type of system will you be brewing on?
We currently have a 15 BBL steam fired system from Criveller Group, out of Niagara Falls. We love the flexibility that this system offers, and are very pleased with our results so far. We are excited about the products we are producing with this system.

What are your plans for distribution? Plans for tap accounts, bottles, growlers, etc.?
Our current plan is to distribute to restaurants, bars, distilleries, and golf courses throughout Nova Scotia, and to sell growlers and pints out of our Brewery. We also just started attending the Ross Ferry Farmers Market with our growlers, and plan to offer our kegs to growler fill stations in Halifax. We eventually plan to do some bottling and canning down the road, but initially are selling 20L and 50L kegs, and 64oz and 32oz growlers.

Where can we purchase your beers currently?
We are currently on tap at many restaurants across the province:
Sydney – Flavor on the Water, Governor’s, Old Triangle
Glace Bay – Talo
Iona – Frolic Pub
Glenville – Glenora Distillery
Antigonish – The Townhouse
Halifax – Bar Stillwell & the Beergarden, The Stubborn Goat, The Argyle, Tom’s Little Havana
We also have several seasonal Cape Breton locations that will be serving our beer later this summer.

Can you tell us about the beer you are currently pouring?

We have three flagship beers:
Sons of Hector Brown Ale
Black Angus IPA
Stirling Hefeweizen

breton coasters

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
Yes, all of the NS breweries have been helpful, and we have had many questions over the past few months. The craft beer community is awesome, and we are glad to be part of it!

Where do you hope to see Breton Brewing in the next 2-3 years?
We will continue focusing on producing high quality products, and will likely have several seasonal beers by this point. We hope to be canning and bottling by this point as well.

Big thanks to Andrew and Bryan for answering our questions. Be sure to drop by the brewery, or one of their licensees to grab a growler or pint of their beers. And there are still tickets available for their Launch Party at Flavor on the Water, featuring local musicians, great food, and of course their beer.

Happy Friday local beer fans! We’ve got a shorter post this week, but that just means there’s more time for you to be out drinking!

Rockbottom Brewpub in Halifax has released a brand new beer this week, Raisin Hell Oatmeal Stout. This stout is dark, rich and chocolaty, with coffee and cream notes, and a bittersweet finish reminiscent of oatmeal raisin cookies. Aromas of roasted grains, vanilla and cheerios. This Traditional English Stout is brewed with steel cut oats, which provide a full, velvety body. It is being served on a nitrogenated tap, for even more creamy character. The beer weighs in at 5.5% ABV and 35 IBUs

• And coming next week at Rockbottom is their collaboration with the Ladies Beer League, Fizzgig Imperial Red. At 7.5% ABV and 80 IBUs, this big, bold, and hoppy Imperial Red ale is a marriage of dark English crystal malts and bright punchy New Zealand hops. Ruby coloured, with aromas of blackberry and cut grass. Long bitter lemon-lime finish. The beer will be launched Wednesday evening, and a reminder that all LBL members receive 50% off appetizers Wednesday nights.

Big Tide Brewing has tapped the Marée Montante (Rising Tide) Gose this week, their collaboration with Acadie-Broue‘s Patrice Godin. This sour mashed beer has a light and refreshing body, at 4.6% ABV, and very light hopping, to 15 IBUs. Additions of coriander and Bay of Fundy salt water for that characteristic flavour of this traditional German style. It is available only at the brewery, and won’t last long, so drop by today.

Brasseurs du Petit-Sault in Edmundston, NB are looking for an Assistant Brewer to join their ranks. While having intimate knowledge of yeast pitch rates and hop flavour profile are not required (but a bonus), this job is perfect for someone looking to learn the craft of brewing on a large scale. Check out the job posting for the full details, and contact them quickly, as the posting closes next Friday.

• Speaking of brewing jobs, Yellowbelly Brewery in St John’s, NL, is still looking for a Head Brewer and Brewer’s Apprentice. These positions will be to assist Brewmaster Liam McKenna as they expand their offerings and distribution. The 10 hl brewhouse located in the heart of downtown (on the corner of George and Water Streets), brews for both onsite consumption as well as bottles in the NLC. While the Brewer position requires formal brewing training and/or experience, the Apprentice job is the perfect position for those interested in the wonderful world of brewing! Interested candidates should send an email to for more details and to submit a résumé.

• There are a pair of events happening in NB tomorrow evening. In Fredericton, the Tasting NB Event at the Capital Complex will see ten breweries (including brand new Flying Boats Brewing and Gray Stone Brewing), plus cider, wine, and spirits producers come together to celebrate the New Brunswick Craft Alcohol Producers Association. Tickets are still available. Flying Boats will be pouring their Humpyard Steam Ale, a 5.8% and 46 IBU California Common Ale (aka Steam Ale) and their Stove Pipe Gang Black IPA, 6.9% ABV and 96 IBUs. Gray Stone will be pouring their American Pale Ale, featuring tropical hop aromas, balances with a satisfying bitterness; American Stout, with a medium body featuring notes of toffee, roasted barley and coffee with a mocha nose; and India Pale Ale, a balanced beer, but with big bitterness. As their brewery is still months away, the folks at TrailWay Brewing (also in attendance) were kind enough to allow them to brew on their system.

• In Moncton, the Moncton Beer League is taking over La Teraz for a Nova Scotia Beer BBQ Deck Party, featuring beers from Boxing Rock, Garrison, North, and Propeller, each paired with a course of the meal: grilled pineapple glazed salmon, crispy orange marinated chicken thigh with cilantro and pineapple salsa, beer marinated and grilled ribeye, and extra dark double chocolate and coffee brownie with leche cream. Contact the MBL on FB to check for last-minute tickets, if available.

• Details have been announced for another Summer Tasting Session at Railcar Brewing in Florenceville-Bristol. Join brewer Mitch Biggar 6-9pm July 25 for some Stout and Porter talk, including the history, recipe development, and of course some tasting of three of each style. Tickets are $20 at the door.

Real Food Connections in Fredericton is making some unique products with local beer and cider: Freezies! They have taken Picaroons Dooryard Summer Wheat, and lightly simmered it with local honey, lemon, and lime, to make a Dooryard Shandy Sorbet that can be eaten/slurped on the go! They have also experimented with Grimross Pugnacious Porter and strawberry juice, and Red Rover cider for yet another flavour. While most of the alcohol is lost to evaporation during the preparation, the beer flavour remains in the final product. Drop by Real Food Connections in Fredericton for a taste, and you may even see these for sale in Dicke Dee-type rolling freezer chests soon!

Keep an eye out this weekend for Big Axe Brewing‘s Chanterelle Cream Ale, which has made its return this week, with freshly harvested mushrooms from the Nackawic area. Upstreet‘s Quittin’ Time Session is happening again this evening at the brewery, featuring Racoon Bandit‘s Fraser McCallum, and some fresh PEI oysters. Trailway Brewing has sent some Hugh John Hops IPA to Saint John, and it is only available at Bourbon Quarter (and only a pair of kegs). Meander River in Ashdale, NS has released another Cider, Dusty Road Hard Apple Cider. Dry, light, refreshing, 5.5% ABV, drop by the brewery this weekend to pick some up. In Halifax, North Brewing‘s Halifax Common is back on tap at the brewery, and a few local tap accounts.  And in more good news for Halifax beer fans, the inaugural brew from Unfiltered Brewing went on this week, so it won’t be long before Greg Nash’s beer will be flowing again in the city.

Flying Boats Brewing

Flying Boats Brewing is a new small scale brewery, recently opened in the Shediac Bay, N.B. region, by Marc Melanson. The “Flying Boats” moniker and beer names are a nod to the history of transportation in southeast New Brunswick, including its early aviation, railway, Ships and boats, and highway travel. This part of NB has a unique and interesting history that will be celebrated with full bodied and flavourful craft beers that will be tied to these stories. Marc was kind enough to answer a few questions about Flying Boats, his beers, and his brewing history.

ACBB: Is there something specific that got you into the world of craft beer?
I worked as an automotive engineer in Europe for 10 years and built a love for premium, good quality beers, as well as the dedication to the craft, especially in Germany. Upon returning to Canada in 1992 and being disappointed with returning to the local beers offered, I started to brew kits (not very good by today’s standards, with info available and quality yeasts) and searching out the early micro breweries. Family years put a halt into home brewing until about 6-7 years ago when I started again and progressed all the way to All Grain.

What steps have you taken so far getting everything up and running?
I started with kits again, 6-7 years ago, then started to add extra hops, partial grains and other techniques to end up to All Grain today. I practiced my sanitation techniques, temperature control, and yeast handling over hundreds of 23 L batches to get a good understanding of the variables. I also read, picked fellow brewers’ brains, attended events, etc… One of the biggest lessons learned early on is to be prepared by having everything ready (set up, sanitation, ingredients, timelines, etc…).

What size/type of system will you be brewing on?
I am currently brewing on a 10 G systems but recently ordered a 2 BBL system from Stout Tanks, which is scheduled to arrive in Sept. My approach is more of a “controlled” growth so I can focus on creating and delivering high quality beers at this stage.

Will you be the primary brewer, or will you be employing one?
I am the primary brewer at this point, but I have a few brewing assistants who help me from time to time.

Do you have any partners in the brewery?
I am currently the only brewer, with my wife helping (voluntold) with back office accounting, social media and other tasks. I’ve had a lot of help and advice from other brewers (thanks to Shane Steeves from Hammond River) and other friends who’ve helped me set up my “brew shop” in my converted garage.

What are your plans for distribution? Plans for tap accounts, bottles, growlers, etc.?
I plan to distribute to southeastern NB tap accounts, the Fredericton area and selected Craft Beer events. No current plans for bottling. I am also planning to ramp up production this fall with my new system to make some of my kegs available through the ANBL Growler program (work in progress).

Do you have any beer bars/restaurants in the area lined up to serve your beers?
Due to my limited production capacity, I am focusing on a soft launch to selected restaurants/bars/licensees:

La Coast – Main Street, Shediac
Auberge Gabriele Inn– Main Street, Shediac
Ducky’s – Bridge Street, Sackville

Upcoming Events:
Tasting NB – July 11, Capitol Complex, Fredericton
Fredericton Craft Beer Run – Aug 3, Delta Fredericton, Fredericton

Can you tell us about the beers you plan on offering initially?
I currently have three beers listed under the Flying Boats banner at ANBL, along with one Seasonal listing, in kegs to be sold to Licensees:
Flying Boats Dixie Clipper IPA
Flying Boats S-55 Special Mission Pale Ale
Flying Boats Empress Irish Red Ale
Current Seasonal:
Flying Boats Picnic Train Witbier

I have submitted three more beers for full time listing by ANBL, which will go through the tasting and selection process later this month: An Extra Special Bitter, Humpyard Steam Ale (California Common), and the Picnic Train Witbier. There will be 5 or more new styles released in the fall and winter, as production increases.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries or people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
The craft beer brewing scene is pretty amazing with great camaraderie. I’ve received lots of verbal support, as well as help on transitioning to larger brewing systems thanks to Shane Steeves at Hammond River Brewing. Also, the online community of The Brewnosers and the crew at NBCBA and NBCAPA have been very helpful.

With the recent increase in the number of new breweries in Atlantic Canada, what will make Flying Boats different from the rest?
I believe that there is still lots of room for growth in the craft beer segment, which can accommodate new entrants. More craft brewers helps the whole segment with lots of choice and beer styles.

Where do you hope to see Flying Boats in the next 2-3 years?
My initial goal is to become a well established “Local Craft Brewing Company”. The next steps will be determined by feedback from my customers.

Do you personally have a favorite beer style? Beer? Brewery?
I tend to like beers that have a nice balance of malts and hops, with more emphasis on hop forward beers. I also enjoy most beers, but a hoppy IPA is my desert island beer… I’ve always been a fan of Picaroons, as well as Propeller beers and their style of brewing. Lately, there has been a lot of great new beers out in the marketplace. I tend to like Local-Fresh-Unpasteurized-Unfiltered beers…

What made you decide to take the step into brewing professionally?
After several years of brewing and encouragement/feedback from friends who enjoyed all the variety of beer styles I have brewed, I decided that I wanted to do this full time. If you’re going to invest this kind of money and time, it only makes sense to get all the necessary permits and listings. It’s a lot of work, some of it not glorious (cleaning), but it’s what I want to do.

Do you have a specific ingredient in brewing that you like to brew with? E.g. a specific malt and/or hop variety?
I tend to brew with a variety of ingredients, but I am starting to focus on a few ingredients that I really like such as Chinook and Simcoe hops in IPAs or Pale Ales. I try to balance what I like with what customers are asking for…

From what/where/whom have you learned the most in respect to brewing?
Books, Online, events, friends…. and most important…. brew, brew and more brewing to learn the nuances of the results with different hop schedules, malt mash temps, yeasts, temp control, etc….

Thanks again to Marc for answering our questions. Follow along with Flying Boats’ releases of new beers and licensees on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Be sure to drop by the spots in Shediac and Sackville to grab a pint of his beer today.
You can also meet and chat with Marc, as well as a dozen other NB Craft Alcohol Producers, at the Tasting NB event this Saturday. There, Flying Boats Brewing will be serving their current seasonal beers:
Humpyard Steam Ale, a California Common Ale (aka Steam Ale) that has typical Pale Ale ingredients, but is fermented with a Lager yeast at elevated temperature. This creates a nice malty caramel flavour balanced with Northern Brewer hops and a crisp finish taste, and comes in at 5.8% ABV and 46 IBUs.
Stove Pipe Gang Black IPA, a full-flavoured dark malt ale with plenty of hops (4 varieties) including a dry hop for aroma. It weighs in at 6.9% ABV and has 96 IBUs.