After years of development and planning, Party Time Brewing has opened its (garage) doors to the public. Owner, brewer, cleaner, delivery driver, social media manager, and camera operator James Marshall has been documenting his progress in brewing through his YouTube Channel, amassing a couple thousand subscribers who have followed along for the ride. After a soft launch on the weekend, we were able to catch up with Marshall to hear more about Party Time, and most importantly, how the public can get their hands on his beer!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Mount Uniacke, NS next door to the brewery. I went to University for an accounting degree and after a year of doing some super exciting mutual fund accounting, I joined the military as a pilot, and have been doing that for the last 17 years. I have three kids; three, five and ten years old, so tons of free time. When I’m not at the day job, I’m running around with the kids or brewing.
How did you get into the world of beer?
I think my first foray into the craft beer world would have been during university back in the days where you could visit Garrison’s location on Lady Hammond Rd for a “brewery tour”, which included about two hours of all you could drink. Back then, it may have been mostly for the effect, but I did love how different an IPA tasted at the time (at least for my super refined palate which was used to mostly Colt 45 and Keiths). From there, I enjoyed trying out new beers during my travels and decided to start homebrewing somewhere around 2010. I started out with the Festabrew kits from Noble Grape for the first few times, then moved on to partial mash kits. It wasn’t until 2020 that I got into all grain brewing. From there it was on! After my first few kits and watching a few YouTube videos, I decided to start my own YouTube Channel to make some not-so-serious but somewhat useful videos about homebrewing. I shared pretty much all of my brewing wins and losses for the past two years.
What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
I’ve always loved sharing the beer and opening the brewery is just a much better way to get the product out there. My other reason might be a bit selfish, but I wanted to open a brewery so that I could brew more. Brewing more batches means getting better at brewing as long as you listen to people and work on learning more about the process. The plan until retirement from my day job is to brew as much as I can with the goal of continually improving my product offerings.
What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
The culture can be summed up in the name. Party Time Brewing is all about having a good time! It’s all about not taking ourselves too seriously and learning what works and what doesn’t. Beer is fun!
Can you tell us about the first beers you’ve released?
The first batches are the good ol’ easy drinkers. Out now are Garage Party Blonde, Helluva Party Belgian White, Polar Dip Cold IPA, and Day Thinker Oatmeal Stout. I’ll have a Lager coming soon, and looking at adding something along the lines of German Pils to get things going. Once I’m a bit closer to packaging those, I’ll post an update on YouTube and Instagram.
What are your plans for distribution?
As of now, it is a really boring plan. I’m in a residential area, so that means no taproom or retail store. All of the distribution for now will be home delivery. I plan on doing a delivery run Fridays to the local area [B0N 1Z0] and hopefully expand that soon to include a drop-off/meetup spot for folks from outside Mt. Uniacke. Folks can buy and exchange growler fills of their favourite beers, with many of them in cans as well, thanks to a small canner.
Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
I am looking forward to having a couple of local spots carrying my beer. I’ve been concentrating more on the beer for now, so I haven’t really started going after any accounts. Now that I have samples ready to go, I’ll start visiting a few spots, but I don’t really have the capacity to have too many accounts. The local pizza spot, Uniacke Pizza, has been extremely helpful in my progression. They gave me a 3 basin sink and even offered to give me some space if brewing in the residential area didn’t work out. They are licensed and I will send some cans their way, and in the future, I’m hoping to have some sort of event there or get them set up with a kegerator to sell draft beer. They have great donairs, so I’m hoping to have people hammering down donairs and drinking a Party Time brew there soon!
Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
I am amazed at the willingness to help that the local brewing community has. Just about every person I’ve talked to in the industry will answer questions and has helped me get to where I am today. Keith from Ol’ Biddy’s was super helpful talking about the garage or “neighbourhood” brewery as well as Laura from Hardisty Brewing Co. who I’ve bugged more than once at the Alderney Market asking all types of questions about running a small brewery. On the YouTube side of things, I’ve done a few livestreams and had the chance to talk with many brewery owners and people who love brewing, they have been a great inspiration as well.
Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
I’d like to keep expanding to eventually get somewhere in the 2-3 barrel range for the brewing system. All sales will go back into the production line to get away from the Frankensystem I’m using now!
Lets get nerdy! Tell us about your brewing system!
I’m brewing on a Grainfather based system. With this, I can produce 60L batches at a time and so far I’ve been doing way too many double brew days to fill up the fermenters. I basically brew on a Grainfather G70 and heat up the sparge water on a G30. For the fermenters, I have a mix of Grainfather, Spike and Speidel fermenters for a total fermenting capacity of 600 litres or so. On the packaging side, I’ll be initially focusing on canning, with about 60% of production going to that, the rest I will put into kegs for growler or keg sales.
Tell us more about your brewing experience.
I mentioned it above a bit, but I’ve been home brewing for almost 13 years now and (apparently) professional brewing for a few days. I’ve been a bit obsessed with brewing for the past two years, searching for information about brewing, researching styles, and just basically finding any education that is available and affordable without quitting my day job.
Do you have a favourite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
I don’t have a very groundbreaking answer for this one. If I had to choose, it would probably just be a great Double IPA. When done right, they are amazing. Some breweries are doing a lot of fun stuff with pilsners now and I’ll never say no to an interesting Pils! I love stopping by any of the breweries to see what they have on tap. Tapestry Beer Bar in Sackville is a great place to stop by to try out a bunch of different beers.
How about your favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
I’ll probably rock another generic answer, but brewing up IPAs is pretty fun. It’s great to play with the hopping schedules and different types of fun hops. I’m brewing at such a small scale that it’s pretty easy to try many different recipes in a pretty short period of time. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the lighter beers and they are also great for seeing how the more traditional hops in much smaller amounts can still bring out some great flavors. At the end of the day, each style has its own parts to master and I love a challenge!
After a slowdown in brewery openings in the past 3 years, we are thrilled to hear that folks are once again seeing the possibility of following their passion and making the leap to go pro. Keep up with all of Party Time’s antics through their IG, Fb, and YouTube pages, and if you’re lucky enough to live in Mount Uniacke, submit your orders through their website. Congratulations to Marshall on the launch!