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.
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.
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.
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!