The town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, can expect a new brewery to be opening in the near future in their area. Gore Farm Brewery will be run by Robin and Pierre Heelis, on the family farm where they also grow produce. We recently caught up with Robin via email to talk about the brothers’ plans, as the launch date for the brewery will be happening soon.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
My father and I have been producing high quality, locally grown vegetables, eggs, honey, and meat using organic methods; when my brother moved back to New Brunswick, we decided to combine our homebrewing efforts on the farm. Our brewery was a natural extension of the self-sustainability we espouse on at Gore Farm and is another avenue for Gore Farm to develop interest in local products and to further sustainability and self-sufficiency in our community.
How did you get into the world of craft beer?
It all started with a Sierra Nevada… then a Dogfish Head… then an Allagash… soon we were looking to re-create those flavours because we could not find those styles of beer at our local ANBL at the time.
What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
Firstly, as a farm, we are committed to providing local products for local people. Secondly, during participation in the Fredericton Beer Run a few years back we had a look at the brewery map of New Brunswick and noticed our little southwestern corner was remarkably devoid of breweries, so we thought… why not us!?
Care to share some info on your homebrewing history?
Being so close to the border, we were able to try a lot of great craft beer on our frequent trips to Maine and Massachusetts. We just couldn’t find those types of beers locally, so we decided we should start making our own. We reached out to friends with homebrewing experience in Charlotte County and just dove in. We started with wort-in-a-bag kits, which quickly morphed into kit hacking. It wasn’t long before we made the full conversion to all-grain and began developing our own recipes.
What type of system will you be brewing on?
We are truly nano in size. We currently brew on a 1⁄2 barrel (60 L) electric system and hope to ease into the local community and festival scene in early 2017.
What are your plans for distribution? Plans for tap accounts, bottles, growlers, etc.? Are you licensed for on-site sales?
Our initial plan is to sell kegs only.
Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
Brendan Moore of The 5 Kings in St. Stephen has been great, and we look forward to having our beers available there as soon as we can get them out! We also have been working and learning from the guys at Graystone in Fredericton. We have been fortunate enough to have completed a collaboration brew with them called Mont Blanc, a White IPA that has been on tap recently at their taproom in Fredericton (and returns tomorrow), as well as a couple of other establishments in the city.
Can you tell us about the beers you plan on offering?
Gore Farm Brewery produces seasonal ales (and even lagers) with a notably-Belgian influence. We brew with the seasons and are inspired by many of the ingredients that can be found on the family farm. There are three beers that are planned to be the backbone of Gore Farm’s regular production:
Gore Farm Saison – (~6% ABV) a yeast-forward Belgian farmhouse Saison that has the same base recipe, but changes slightly with the seasons based on spices and ingredients available on the farm.
Gore Farm Belgian Blonde – (~6% ABV) a balanced, easy drinking and refreshing Belgian Blonde that is meant to provide an easy introduction to Belgian beers.
Gore Farm Seasonal – (varying ABV) examples include: Gore Farm Pumpkin, Gore Farm Russian Imperial Stout, Gore Farm Black Currant Wheat, and Gore Farm Rhubarb Wheat.
Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
How much time do we have? The brewing community is amazing, much like the farming community actually – always willing to share and assist wherever possible. One of our great friends, Luke Cook, was our first resource for all things all-grain in our early home brewing days. Through the licensing process we have had support from many people in the community. We would certainly like to thank Sean Dunbar of Picaroons and Shane Steeves of Hammond River. We also really need to single out Wes Ward of Graystone and the whole Tough Guys Brewing gang (Ian DeMerchant, Steve Christie, Mark Budd) for their generosity with their time and advice.
Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
Our desire is to get our beers out there and hope people like them as much as we do!
Do you have a favourite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
There is no question about our affinity for Belgian beer and Belgian beer styles. Cantillon is a clear favourite. On the East Coast, we are big fans of just about everything they do at Allagash in Portland, Maine. We also are a big fans of German style lagers.
How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
Part of the beautiful thing about beer is that it is much more diverse than most people know. Who was it that said if you don’t like beer, you just haven’t tried enough of them yet? Often, our inspiration is derived from the seasonal offerings available on the farm, like a subtle Pumpkin Ale in the fall and a tart Rhubarb Wheat in the spring.
Be sure to follow along with our Friday Wrap-Ups, as we’ll have more news on Gore Farm soon. They’re currently wrapping up work on their website and social media pages; we’ll be sure to include that info once they’re up and running!