Profiles

Topside Logo

We are thrilled to help introduce our region’s latest brewery, Topside Brewing! Located in the community of Bedford, Nova Scotia, Topside is headed by the recently-married husband and wife team of Blair and Erin Tobin. Together with their kids and cute-as-heck brewery dogs Charlie and Lincoln, the Tobins have opened the brewery in their house on a smaller scale, ready to serve local drinkers through sales to bars, as well as their soon to launch “Grab a Growler” program. Let’s learn more, shall we?

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
We are Topside Brewing Company. This husband and wife couple, Blair and Erin, started this company in August. It has always been a dream to own their own business, and with his background and education as a brewing tech from the Siebel Institute and her background and education in business, they have the perfect combination for Topside Brewing. While Erin & Blair are the owners and head brewer, this is an entire family operation with all 4 children (ages 6-21) being involved in various aspects including marketing, media, and swag!

How did you get into the world of beer?
We started drinking craft beer quite some time ago, and really enjoyed the robust flavours and variety. This got us interested in exploring the craft beer scene and really tasting and loving the offerings around NS and NB at the time, which was much less than now. We turned into beer geeks, doing brewery tours and exploring the craft beer scene in Ontario and BC. After that, it was an easy transition into homebrewing, which really helped us explore flavour profiles and more importantly, where everything comes from. It quickly became a passion which grew with each brew.

Topside Growler

What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
We both work full time but I am nearing the end of my military career as a RCN Clearance Diver. We knew it was time for a change and a plan to bring us into “retirement”. We always tell our children to find what you’re passionate about and then find a way to make money doing just that. So, we decided to take our own advice. With her degree in business, diploma in hospitality and my studies at Siebel Institute through the World Brewing Academy, I became the beer and she became the business.

What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
We are a small, family owned and operated business. We truly believe in getting back to the craft. Working hard to hand craft our ales and lagers from recipe formulation (I still use pencil and paper) to the way we interact with our customers. We want to create the beer you love and make the beer you didn’t think you would like.

We raise our family on a basis of love, respect, honesty and consideration of our community and we want our business to reflect this. We want our customers to feel part of the Topside family. For anyone to be able to ask questions about brewing and beer and to know how and where their favourite brew comes from.

Topside Tap List

Speaking of favourite brews, can you tell us about yours?
Absolutely, we have a staple line up (dive roster) of ales:

  • 5 Bells is a Session IPA,  4.6% ABV
  • Joyce’s Boy is a Hefeweizen, 5.0 % ABV
  • On the Bottom is an East Coast IPA, 6.0% ABV
  • Lord’s Porter is a Porter, 6.0% ABV

We also plan to have some weird beers in the future for limited release and we have a great Boho Pils in small quantities and only in the fall as our spin on Festbier for October.

Sounds great! How can folks try your beer?
We debuted on the tap here in Bedford at the Birch and Anchor this weekend (and may still be available so you should head there to check it out!), and will hopefully be on tap shortly at some other local pubs in the area.

The first beer to debut was On the Bottom, named after the diving term, when diver will communicate with Topside (aka. the surface crew) when they reach bottom by stating “On the Bottom”. The beer is a hazy East Coast style IPA. Generously hopped with both early and late addition hops, and then dry-hopped with an abundance of Cascade. It has a bitter back end (it weighs in at 84 IBUs) and delightful hop aroma and smooth mouth feel for 6.0% ABV.

In addition to keg sales to licensees, we are debuting our “Grab a Growler” home delivery starting in the Bedford area this week, supporting our neighbours’ quest to quench their thirst. The intent is to soft open within the immediate area until we determine demand and we have our feet under us. Follow us on Instagram for the week’s offerings, and deliveries while be done in Bedford Thursday to Saturday afternoons. Order by noon for same-day delivery, sending us an email is the best way to submit your request, with your name, address, and phone number, and which beers you’d like! We’ll prepare the order and bring it right to your door, totally contact-free!

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
Absolutely. We have been very fortunate to have great assistance from both the small business community and the brewing industry here in Atlantic Canada. Peter Cole at Big Axe Brewery in Nackawic, NB has been a great help by answering questions whenever I ask. Small businesses like BeerTech, Jym Line Glassware, Don’s Refrigeration, Stanhope Simpson Insurance and our phenom Graphic Designer Kari Tiffin at Bright by Design have been instrumental in getting through the startup process, which is challenging at best.

Looking forward, where do you see Topside Brewing in the next few years?
We plan to work from our current location in year one and move to a commercial space in year two or three. We want to stay in the Bedford community because we love this area and the people here so much.

Topside Tanks and Hoses

Now for the beer nerds… tell us about your brewing system?
We are limited to a half barrel system we put together using Blichmann Engineering kettle and mash tun, and Spike Brewing fermenters. We will be kicking out about 500 litres per month initially, and plan to double that by month three.

Can you tell us about your homebrewing history and education?
Home brewing was always a passion. Making and crafting different beers was fun, and we enjoyed the fruit of our labours. I learned a lot from completing courses at Siebel and the depth of knowledge from the instructors both in the US and Munich Germany is second to none. These are truly Master Brewers/Brew Masters who have honed their craft with decades of experience and education. Learning from them has given me an insight into the complexities of the beer core ingredients, water, malt, hops and yeast. We really want to explore the many flavour profiles
from these core ingredients and use them in various ways to make great beer.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Of course, we are beer geeks! I admire breweries like Dogfish Head because of how they started in the 90’s from humble beginnings. Also, Dieu de Ciel! and the phenomenal Péché Mortel is amazing. We enjoy tasting all beer from everyone and learning from their talents and techniques. There are some really great breweries in Atlantic Canada and we are truly fortunate to be able to taste their beers.

Topside Fermenters

How about your favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
I love the challenge of brewing pilsners. There is no place to hide flaws in this beer style and they have history to back them up. My favourite ingredient is yeast. Those great mothers and daughters can make or break the flavour of a beer. If used properly and given the right environment, they will produce some amazing flavour profiles. In my opinion they are often overlooked and live in the shadow of hops and grain but should really have the front row seat.

Congratulations to the Tobin family on the launch of Topside Brewing! Their full website just launched with more details on their growler delivery program available to their neighbours in Bedford, and be sure to check out their Social Media ( Fb / Ig / Tw ) to be in the know for when and where their next kegs will be available in town. And as always, we’ll keep you up to date with their going ons here on the blog.

Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery celebrated their soft opening this month, and are looking forward to serving their house-made beer in the next few weeks. Located on Pilley’s Island in Central Newfoundland, Bumblebee Bight overlooks a harbour full of islands, and is right on the main drag, perfect for those looking to make a stop on their way along Highway 380. We caught up with owners Deno and Natalie Colbourne to learn about their history with the area, how they got into beer, and what Bumblebee Bight has to offer its patrons.

Can you tell us about yourselves?
Deno was born in Springdale, Newfoundland, but as with many Newfoundlanders in the 1970’s, he moved with his family to Manitoba where he grew up. After leaving Manitoba and the Yukon, he eventually made his way to Vancouver. Natalie was born in Edmonton, Alberta, but grew up on the beaches of Vancouver. As the stars aligned, they met (and went to an ACDC concert for their first date!) and were married. Working life eventually led them to the interior of B.C. and to Fort McMurray where their 3 children grew up. Yet, every summer was spent at their cabin in the 3 Island area of Green Bay South, Central Newfoundland. As the kids grew up and retirement loomed, Deno decided that he wanted to open a craft brewery. Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery is the completion of that decision. Located in Pilley’s Island, Central, the Brewery is in a totally renovated building that was built in the mining era of the local area, 150 years ago. Since then, it has been a Mercantile store, a Convenience Store and apartments, and is now the base of operations for the Brewery, Restaurant, and soon, the deluxe king and queen suites of the Inn.

Natalie and Deno

How did you get into good beer, and decide to open a brewery of your own?
As we all know there are a number of craft breweries on the West Coast of Canada. With some very strong ties to friends in various positions in these breweries we have had a varied mentoring history with them… from understanding the process, the running of the crew, management and of course taste testing. Our close friends are in the process of opening Dungeons Distillery in Bonavista and have encouraged us to take the “brew route” as we navigate the myriad of checks and balances to get our doors open and our first batch brewed. We have not gone into this endeavour blindfolded, just blindsided as we have attempted to complete our dream in the year of COVID-19 and all the infuriating and costly delays (our fermenters were delayed 2.5 months from overseas). So with a little determination and educations we began the research. Deno enrolled in Brew School in Portland OR at LABrewatory and in Seattle WA.

Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery

Tell us about your location!
Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery is located 30 km off the TCH in the 3 Islands area of Green Bay South. There is water everywhere and a chance to enjoy it at every turn. We want to give the tourists a taste of this area by incorporating the old with the new. Our brewery has salvaged some fittings from the building’s former life, like the old 48″ door, the old pharmacy cabinet, the old safe, post office box and the old candy machines, while the flat screen TV, wifi and deluxe suites scream modern. The nearby hiking trails, water sports and boat tours will leave one in awe and needing a good craft beer and a place to tell the tall tales.

Bumblebee Bight Sign

We have an on site consumption licence and a taproom accompanied by a full serviced kitchen which boasts an Italian dual-fuel pizza oven. We plan to pair our beers with our pub style menu. Eight taps are on the wall, and we hope will be pouring our own beer by the end of next month. The taproom can accommodate up to 70 people, with future plans for outdoor seating in beer garden style setting with fabulous harbour views of Pilley’s Island. As a service to visitors and locals alike, we have added fresh baked goods, pantry items, and groceries available for sale as well.

Brewhouse

Tell us about your brewery and the beers you’ll be serving…
Our brew system is a state of the art 600 litre (5 BBL) system , with four fermenters of the same size. Because of the ever presence of COVID-19, we have already made changes to the original architectural ideas and incorporated a brewery that will be able to be flexible as the rules for living keep changing. Our beers will include 6 signature beers which we hope to can and distribute. We have our logo printed on our flight and pint glasses and on our growlers and kegs. Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery – “Bunks, Brews and Bites, B’ys”. We know our branded 20 and 50 litre kegs will be a hit because here in Newfoundland there is plenty of play time year round. Our first to be brewed and available in kegs and cans will be Pretty Island Lager. We will also have a Pilsner, an IPA, a Wheat Ale and a couple of pale ales.

Pretty Island Lager can

Where do you see Bumblebee Bight in the future?
Because our beers names are representing a few of the local aquatic points of interest, we hope to partner with local boat tour businesses to offer a Bumblebee Bight Brewery Boat Tour where guests will have the experience of consuming our brew while being treated to the natural beauty spots of this area. We intend to work with the other operators in the area to provide other venues to increase business. In three years, we hope that Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery is on the main route for a province wide brew tour. We hope the brewery can diversify and add local Newfoundland wines made from local berries grown right here in the Green Bay.

Growlers

When will we be able to enjoy your beer?
Our hope was to open in late June of 2020 but with all the COVID-19 craziness and delays, we are 3 months behind schedule. We are open now for our food side and the customers have been complimenting us on the fabulous Italian pizzas with a bubble crust. The fermenters arrived last week (Aug 17) after a long delay. The grand opening of our tap house and Brewery will be mid September. Our five-room inn will be opening this fall.

Congratulations to Natalie and Deno on the opening of Bumblebee Bight! They are currently open daily (except Monday), noon til 7 PM (until 9PM Friday and Saturday) for food, at 188 Main Street in Pilley’s Island. Keep your eyes peeled on their Social Media (Fb/Ig) for the announcement of their Grand Opening and first beers flowing in the next few weeks.

OBB Logo

Fans of good local beer in Lower Sackville, NS, have reason to be excited this weekend, as Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House is making its triumphant return to the suburban community. After originally opening as a nanobrewery out of co-founder Keith Forbes’ home in November 2017 and then closing when juggling the small-scale brewery and full-time job became untenable. Forbes is back, along with childhood friend Chris Balcom, bigger and better than ever. While we know that there are many who aren’t fans of the brewery’s name or their logo, we can absolutely vouch for the quality of the beer and we hope that’s what ends up standing out above all as the brand returned to the local market Saturday. We caught up with Forbes and Balcom as they were putting the finishing touches on everything late last week, just ahead of opening weekend (which continues today, May 18th, 12 – 6 PM), at their Cobequid Road location in Lower Sackville.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Keith Forbes is Head Brewer and founder of the original Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House, with 10 or so years of brewing experience under his belt. The 37 year old lives in Sackville with his amazing wife of 11 years Erin and they have two children. In 2018 he partnered up with his old high school friend Chris Balcom. Chris, also 37, is the general manager and lives in Sackville with his wife of six years, Megan, and their two little boys.

How did you get into the world of beer?
Keith started into the world of beer to save a few dollars after his family moved into a new house in the late ‘00s — they had 2 kids and a 3rd on the way. The first few months it was Festa Brew kits which then moved into a couple Best Case kits. After that he discovered the Brewnosers; he picked up a small system and started to formulate his own recipes. He went on to read and learn as much as he could about beer making and went on to apply what he learned and started making some pretty good beer, which evolved into entering competitions, giving him feedback to help with dialing in his product. Chris on the other hand had never brewed beer in his life until he reunited with Keith after 15+ years away working in the oil industry. As an avid beer drinker, Chris had always wanted to own and run a pub, together they have combined their talents to create something great.

Brewery Front

What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
Keith’s passion for great beer and wanting to share his product with everyone is the main reason. After the Forbes 500 Tap Takeover at Good Robot in November 2016, he, along with his wife Erin, moved forward to open their own nano brewery in their home and quickly discovered that there aren’t enough hours in the day to run a successful nano brewery, work full time, and still have time for a family. While in early talks with his future partner Chris to expand the business, he decided to take a few months away from brewing to figure out what his future held. After a relaxing summer Chris and Keith had what was supposed to be one last meeting, instead Keith decided he wasn’t ready to leave the world of brewing and partnered with Chris and the two haven’t looked back since. In November 2018 we became Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House Inc. and in 2019 after securing the capital to proceed with our expansion plans, we purchased a 10bbl brewing system and signed a long term lease in Lower Sackville. 

What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
At Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House it’s all about the beer, our friends & family, the people behind the pint, and the community we live in. We strive for Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House to be a brand that is known in our community as a friendly face with a standard of producing high quality, great tasting beer, and to be a familiar brand that everyone recognizes and looks forward to drinking.

OBB Cans

 

Can you tell us about the beers you have available now?
We are launching with 4 of our 6 mainstay beers along with 4 limited releases.

Mainstays (core brands):

  • Seven Day IPA (6.0% ABV) – Our version of a No Coast IPA – it’s far from a West Coast IPA, but it’s not true to East Coast either! It has the bitterness you expect from a traditional IPA, but it also delivers a juicy tropical fruit and citrus flavour to your taste buds. Think melons, stone fruit, strawberry, pear and grapefruit.
  • Even Gooder Coffee Brown (4.4% ABV)- A balanced, light-bodied, easy-drinking brown ale fermented on whole coffee beans. The chocolate, caramel, and earthy notes of our Even Gooder Nut Brown are complemented by the coffee, taking this beer to the next level. Special thanks to our friends at Apartment 3 Espresso Bar for supplying us with the dark roast beans for this brew!
  • Disco Inferno Red IPA (6.5% ABV) – Our Disco Inferno Red IPA is where malts meet hops. This friends and family favourite is well-balanced with a moderate citrus and floral hop profile and finished with notes of caramel and chocolate.
  • Funktown Pale Ale (5.0% ABV) – A hop-forward pale ale. Fermented using a clean American yeast, it finishes dry with lemon and grapefruit flavors and aroma.

 Seasonals/One Off’s:

  • Maisil IPA (6.2% ABV) – Our version of a West Coast IPA. It has the bitterness you’ve come to expect from a traditional IPA with flavours of grapefruit, orange and pine.
  • Patrick O’Neil’s Irish Red (5.0% ABV) – Patrick is nothing fancy – a simple, balanced Irish Red.
  • Tall, Dark & Handsome Porter (5.0% ABV) – TD&H is a dark, flavorful and balanced porter. It is medium bodied with chocolate, caramel and roasted notes.
  • Jim Hopper (3.2% ABV) – Jimmy is a low ABV, refreshing wheat ale that finishes crisp and clean with orange notes on the finish. Great for a hot summer afternoon.

What are your plans for distribution? How can folks drink your beer?
With COVID-19 changing the industry overnight we also had to adapt quickly like most breweries in Atlantic Canada. We are currently working with Craft Coast Canning to package our beer into 473 mL cans and plan on taking online orders for curbside pickup at the brewery. Once restrictions are lifted we have a 15-tap taproom with seating for 30 – 50 where you’ll be able to enjoy a pint or flight of your favorites. We will also have growlers and cans to take home and enjoy.

Forbes in Brewhouse

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We have some accounts lined up with more to come at a later date once COVID-19 passes.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
This is a long list; most covered in the initial introduction of our nano brewery. But we must fire out a special thank you those below (if we missed anyone we are very sorry).
First and foremost, a huge shout out to our wives, Erin and Megan.
Secondly our parents: Chris & Tim, Mike & Sandy.
And then, in no particular order…

  • Alex McConnachie
  • Mike Orr
  • Paul MacKinnon
  • Ken Sidhu & Chris
  • Steve, Max & Team @ Commercial Electric
  • Dan @ Teklor Controls
  • Matt, Jon, and Al @ Off Track Brewing
  • Joe and Laura @ Triders
  • Matt and Ian @ Brightwood Brewery

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2 – 3 years?
It took us 2 years (really 4) to get to this stage, we plan to grow our brand and expand our team all while sticking to our roots. Mainly just take it 1 pint at a time.

OBB Brewhouse

As always, for the brewing geeks who are reading this, we also asked for some slightly more detailed info about the brewery as well:

What type of system are you brewing on and what is your expected output?
We are operating a 10 barrel electric brewhouse with 8 unitanks. With COVID-19 in full swing we are not sure what our expected output will be.

Care to share some info on your brewing history?
Our head brewer, Keith has over 10 years brewing experience, 8 years home brewing, and a couple years commercial brewing split between the nano setup and assisting at other commercial breweries.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Chris is a big fan of heavily hopped IPA’s and double IPA’s, but his favorite secret indulgence is Church Brewing‘s German porter.
Keith: My favorite style beer presently is a low-SRM (“light coloured” for non-brewing readers) hop forward pale ale. Something light bodied, crisp and refreshing. That said I’m a huge coffee fan and have been craving a Mean Joe Bean from Triders as it has always been one of my favorites.

How about your favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
Not so much a favorite style to brew however, in terms of ingredients we would have to go with brewing salts. 

Congratulations to Forbes, Balcom, and the entire OBB family on the brewery launch this weekend. You still have time to grab some of their 8 varieties in cans at the brewery today. Located at 111 Cobequid Road in Lower Sackville, the brewery is open 12 – 6 PM today, May 18th. Hours going forward will be Thurs 12 – 6 PM, Fri and Sat 12 – 8 PM, Sun 12 – 6 PM. You can pre-order your cans and learn more on their website (http://www.olbiddys.ca), as well as on their social media pages (Fb / Ig / Tw).