Tanner & Co Brewing Company of Chester Basin, NS, is set to open its doors this weekend. Owner and brewer Dan Tanner came to enjoy beer through the culinary field and while training as a Sommelier, a different route than many others. Chester Basin is located 70km West of Halifax on the 103, near the Eastern edge of the South Shore. We traded emails with Tanner to learn more about his background, and plans for Tanner & Co Brewing.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a veteran of the restaurant industry & have been involved in it for 17 years. I started as a server & then moved in to management at beautiful White Point Beach Resort. I originally studied wine, becoming one of the first graduates of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers Atlantic Chapter program. A few years later I completed the NSCC Culinary Arts program. Brewing fit perfectly with the two, as I learned how to taste from my wine studies & how to cook from culinary education.
We thought long and hard about a name for the brewery & decided to honour my family name. Tanners were among the first settlers of Lunenburg County in the mid 1700’s. I am proud to name my brewery after such a long history of hard workers, comprised mainly of fishermen and farmers.
How did you get into the world of beer?
My beer knowledge was limited until a session on beer during the Sommelier program opened my eyes to the many different styles available around the globe. I learn by doing & while I love wine, I was drawn to beer because it was something I could make with greater control. If you have a bad year producing wine, you have to wait for the next year to try again. With brewing, I have greater control on the ingredients used as well as the final outcome. And if I’m not happy with what I’ve made, I can start over the next day, and not have to wait for another season.
Care to share some info on your homebrewing history?
I’ve been a homebrewer for over 5 years. Did about two batches of extract kits before making the jump to all grain. For the last two years I’ve been doing double batches just about weekly. All that extra beer is a great way to make friends!
What made you decide to take the leap into opening a brewery?
Five years ago I floated the idea to friends who thought I was crazy. They’re probably right, but after that much time & still wanting to do so, I decided to go ahead. You only live once. I’m starting with a 3BBL (350 litre) brewhouse, with two fermenters & one brite tank.
Can you tell us about the beers you’ll be brewing?
I have a lightly hopped pale ale that I’m happy with. It’ll likely show up in the rotation more often than others. Otherwise, with the smaller system we have to brew on, we’ll be experimenting lots for the first year or so. I have traditional German styles Roggenbier (Rye Beer) & Dampfbier (Steam Beer) that will also show up along with our vintage beers produced with grapes from our onsite vineyard. I had an awesome Cabernet Franc Milk Stout produced last year with our grapes. The juice went to making a small batch of wine & the skins, stalks & pulp (must) went in to the beer.
This weekend will see the release of six small batches I’ve brewed. An American Pale Ale, Belgian Blonde, Imperial Milk Stout with Masala Chai from the The Tea Brewery in Mahone Bay, a Lemon Lavender Saison, as well as the Dampfbier and Roggenbier.
Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking (or brewing)?
Picking a favourite beer is like picking a favourite child (I assume anyway). I enjoy trying any beer I can get my hands on, to taste, evaluate & try to dissect what the brewer was going for.
How can folks enjoy your beer?
We will be concentrating on mostly selling kegs to licensees, with some growler sales in some of the local Farmers’ Markets. For this weekend’s soft launch, growlers will be for sale at the brewery itself.
Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We’ve been waiting until we are in the production phase to knock on doors. Saltbox Brewing was the first to offer to put us in their guest tap rotation, so once production is in full swing, our beer will be available there. Another great show of support from a local brewery! Plus we have several more breweries, restaurants and bars on the short list for kegs shortly.
Have you had any assistance from other breweries or folks in Atlantic Canada?
Jeff Saunders from Bad Apple Brewhouse has been a huge help. No matter how dumb the question he has always answered questions and offered advice. Happy to have such a great brewer answer my calls and emails. And since learning about us, the great folks at Saltbox Brewing in Mahone Bay have been proactive in offering assistance, as they recently went through many of the steps and faced the same hurdles to open.
Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
That’s a great question. I love brewing beer & hope that people enjoy it. I’m happy staying small. I love my day job as well, so just happy getting the chance to live out my passion & experiment in small batches.
Thanks very much to Dan for letting us know about the brewery. You can grab your first tastes of Tanner & Co this weekend at the brewery on Angus Hiltz Rd from 12-6PM Saturday and again Sunday (if there’s anything left!). Currently, only retail sales (0.75l flip top and 1.89l growlers) are possible at the brewery, though a taproom may be coming in the future. Keep an eye on the T&C Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news and releases.