Modern Brewer

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Village Green Logo

The town of Cornwall, PEI, is 15 minutes outside of downtown Charlottetown, and offers a quiet area to stop and take a break while traveling the island. Now that stop can also include a visit to its own brewery, thanks to the launch of Modern Brewer’s Village Green. The Modern Brewer moniker is that of Bryan Carver, who has worked in beer and brewing on PEI for well over a decade, and is debuting his brand by opening the Village Green location at 30 Church Street. Over the years, Carver has worn many hats in the beer industry, including brewer, brewery consultant, equipment manufacturer representative, author, and everything in between. We caught up with Bryan in between brewing and pouring pints in the taproom.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Bryan Carver, I am the owner of Modern Brewer and the owner/brewer of Village Green in Cornwall, PE. I am a Certified Cicerone®, I write about beer on PEI for The Buzz here on the island and I have been working in the brewing industry here on PEI for close to 12 years, from keg cleaning to brewing, to design and consulting, hosting tastings and now running a taproom and nano system in Cornwall.

How did you get into the world of beer?
I have always been a beer lover. In 2000, I spent a month in Dublin ‘studying’ Irish Literature, definitely spent more time in pubs than studying. At that time Guinness was brewing a witbier called Breó, having my first pint of that was a real eye opening experience. I grew up in Ottawa, and we had a bit of exposure to the early craft beer movement, I would drink Big Rock ‘Traditional’ and ‘Grasshopper’ while also being exposed to Unibroue over in Hull, QC. I have always enjoyed trying different beers, and am often pretty grateful I have been able to make it into a living.

In 2008, I joined Gahan Brewery to help build the only operating production brewery on PEI. From there I went to Gahan House to brew for a couple years and was present for the initial growth of what would become PEI Brewing Company. I moved to the production Gahan Brewery in the year leading to the opening of the current PEI Brewing Company’s home on Kensington Road. We opened the larger brewery, perhaps one of the largest craft breweries in Atlantic Canada at the time, and I came to the realization that my perspective on brewing wasn’t aligned with the company’s anymore.

I left my position as Head Brewer from PEI Brewing when any opportunity to consult a start up brewery in New Delhi came up. I spent a little over a month in Northern India working with the team that became White Rhino Brewing. The founder Ishaan Puri had developed a thorough plan on launching the brand, and it was a great experience to work with him.

Coming back to PEI, I needed to find work close to home and landed working with DME Brewing Solutions. I spent a little time working on the shop floor, assembling pumps and working with the piping crew. Then I began to travel to install and commission breweries all over North America. During 2014, I travelled to roughly 25 different cities to work at breweries. It was a tremendous experience and gave me massive exposure to what was happening in craft beer across the continent. Eventually, my wife Amy and I were expecting our first child and I moved into an office position with DME, managing the after-sales and technical support. There I helped breweries across the globe resolve any issues they were experiencing.
I used my free time at home to study for the Certified Cicerone® exam in Halifax. I would like to write the Advanced Cicerone® exam, but that won’t really happen until we are through the pandemic.

VG Draught System

What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
When DME Brewing Solutions went into receivership and everyone lost their jobs, I decided to commit to opening a brewery. I had been working on business plans for a few years but that wasn’t gaining traction. Unfortunately, I had no money. While at DME, I had been thinking on how nano breweries operate, and what the function of a tasting room in a community was, drawing inspiration from micropubs in the UK. There was a suitable building in Cornwall that was soon to be available, and I developed a plan to squeeze a small brewery into a small building! That was the beginning of Village Green.

What is the ethos of the Modern Brewer and Village Green?
I started working in the initial business plan under the brand Modern Brewer, which is a brand of the beer we produce. Modern Brewer’s Village Green, or just Village Green, is the physical location in Cornwall. I hope to expand the Modern Brewer brand to another location or two in the coming years. We are developing a culture aimed at celebrating diversity. I feel that diversity in beer can be a great vehicle for celebrating the diversity in people.

Can you tell us about the beers you plan on offering initially?
The focus at Village Green is to create a community pub, with a diverse selection of beer. The initial plan was to brew a different beer every batch, but certain issues in the PEI Liquor Act made that cost prohibitive. We are launching with a Blonde ale and a Pale ale, to be joined soon enough by an IPA, with a few more coming in the next couple of months as well.
We’re keeping the naming of the beers simple, so you know what you’re getting! The Pale Ale comes in at 5.9%, with an estimated IBU in the high 40s. Brewed with West Coast water treatment, it features malt from Island Malt House, as well as some Vienna from away. It was fermented with Cali Ale yeast and modest dry hop of Cascade and Centennial. The 5.7% Blonde Ale features a similar grain bill, with Island Malt House Pilsner, along with some Maris Otter. It features a lower IBU, and was fermented with an English yeast strain, allowing some lovely fruity esters to shine through.

VG Stout Glass

Enough talk, how can folks enjoy your beer?
The best way is to come to the taproom, as our batches are very small at just 250 litres. The main focus will be at the taproom in Village Green, where folks can grab pints, samples, as well as growler fills (BYO clean growler). In addition to our Pale Ale and Blonde Ale, we have a handful of other Island beers pouring, always a PEI cider, as well as some wine for those looking for something different. Occasionally, a few kegs making their way to Charlottetown, mainly Hopyard, as I have a great relationship with them and have worked with them for years in different capacities. Co-owner Mike Ross was actually my boss for a year or two back in my Gahan days!

We know that a new brewery does not spring up in a vacuum. Care to give a shoutout to those who have helped you along the way?
Definitely, I have called on everyone for a favour at some point! Chris and Symond at PEI Brewing are old coworkers and always a great resource for help. Spencer Gallant at Lone Oak, Mike “Hogie” Hogan from Upstreet, Andrew “Esty” Estabrooks from Foghorn [ed note: the feeling must be mutual, as Foghorn has a Stout named Bryan in Carver’s honour!], Jeremy White at Big Spruce. All these people have been very supportive.

What can we expect from Modern Brewer in the next 2-3 years?
I want to see Village Green be established as a community hub in Cornwall. I want to be working on a production focused brewery in the next 2-3 years, with a larger packaging component and space to grow.

Let’s get nerdy! Please tell us about the brewery and unique brewhouse…
The system is designed to produce roughly 250 litres of finished beer per batch. I worked with East Arc Metalworks right on the Island, which was started by Ryan Court and Calvin Harris, two fabricators that worked at DME on the shop floor who opened their own fabrication shop. They approached me about a small system for my brewery; I was looking at other options on the larger scale home brew equipment market, but would rather give my money to East Arc, as I knew their work was excellent.
The system was basically drawn on a few pieces of notepad paper. Electric Hot Liquor Tank and Kettle, with a Mash Tun that was cladded in oak by Jordan Stetson who owns New World Foeders. Jordan is a good friend and also a former colleague from my DME days. He and his father John did most of the interior construction at Village Green as well. I can’t say enough good things about Jordan, he is a great guy and his work is exceptional.

The set up is the three vessel brew house, with six open-top fermenters, and nine serving tanks in a walk-in fridge. The serving tanks are really designed for the wine industry, but I designed a fitting using ball lock connections to convert them to work for beer. East Arc added a 4″ ferrule to each so I could clamp on my dispensing set up.

The gear at Village Green is truly one of a kind, and designed to minimize the necessity of kegs, making it more streamline for working in a taproom.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?I love Saison DuPont, it’s probably my desert island beer. I love hoppy beers too, a massive fan of Firestone Walker in Paso Robles California, their Pivo Pils is another perspective changing beer for me. Also love Bell’s Beer in Michigan, if I am ever anywhere that sells Two Hearted you can bet I am picking it up.

How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
I always enjoy brewing a dark beer, stouts and porters just smell some incredible in the mash tun.

Congratulations to Bryan and the Village Green crew on their launch! You can pop by the taproom today to grab the first pints of their Blonde and Pale Ales. They are open Mon-Thurs 4 – 9 PM, Fri & Sat 12 – 9 PM, and Sun 1 – 6 PM. Keep up to date on the latest news on Facebook, Instagram (both Modern Brewer and Village Green have pages), and tag ’em on Twitter too! They will be announcing the details of their Beer Appreciation Society soon, so you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled so you don’t miss out!

It’s the middle of October folks, which in a normal year would probably mean lots of darker beers in the works, a decided downturn in thermometer readings, and plans afoot for Halloween festivities. This isn’t what you’d call a normal year by any stretch, though, and last week’s outbreaks in New Brunswick were a sobering reminder of that. But you’ve got to figure that the proper balance to sobering is drinking! So read on for all the beer news we could find to help you find that balance in your life! And remember that taprooms, restaurants, and bars are extending patio season, so keep that in mind as another way to maintain safe distance beer enjoyment. Just make sure you bundle up!

Great news Prince Edward Islanders! Your fair isle just got a little beery-er. Located at 30 Church Street (aka 1 Cornwall Rd) in Cornwall, the Village Green taproom has opened their doors. What is Village Green, you ask? Well, it’s the first foray into brewing for Bryan Carver in a few years, one that has been in the works for a long time. Carver has a long history in the PEI beer scene, working as the Head Brewer at PEI Brewing Company for many years, joining DME for a time, somehow finding time to become a Certified Cicerone, and now launching Modern Brewer. Village Green is just the latest piece in the overarching plan for Carver, and you’ll be able to learn much more in our Profile coming out next week. But in the meantime, head to Cornwall to check out the taproom and chat with Bryan or Mark who will be working the taps. Their own beer is slated for release later this month, but in the meantime you can enjoy six other Island beers and ciders on tap, or wine by the glass. They’re open Fri – Sat 12 – 9 PM, Sun 1 – 6 PM, and Mon – Thur 4 – 9 PM. 

Last Friday, just a little too late for that day’s Wrap-Up, TrailWay Brewing announced that they were releasing their newest bottled, barrel-aged beer. As the old folks like to say (present company included), better late than never, as we’ve got all the info on that beer for you to feast on today, if you haven’t already. The beer is named SPLIT, and it has been in the making for two years. It began its life in October of 2018, when the brewers mixed a 50:50 blend of wort that had spent the night in their coolship with beer that had already undergone a secondary fermentation with the brewery’s house culture. The resulting blend spent 18 months in a single Zinfandel barrel, was packaged in 750 mL bottles, and spent another 6 months conditioning. The final 6% ABV beer is finally ready, sporting “a deep and complex funk with a bright, subtle acidity and beautiful, oaky Zinfandel character”. They’re expecting this one to evolve over time, naturally, so do your best to hold onto some in your cellar. They’ve still got some bottles left for purchase; they’re available exclusively at the brewery while supplies last.

If you live in Moncton and feel like heading out for a beer this weekend, Tire Shack Brewing is currently pouring a new American IPA at the taproom. When they were designing the recipe for Parts & Labour, their aim was to go big on hop aroma, while keeping the bitterness low, all with easy drinkability. They feel like they’ve hit those targets with this 6% ABV brew, as they threw in plenty of Loral and Simcoe hops, resulting in a beer that is “bright and extremely refreshing, with flavours of passion fruit, lychee, and tangerine”. Though it’s limited to pints and growlers currently, it should be available in cans very soon (if not by the time you read this).

Truro Brewing Company has a new beer this afternoon, freshly tapped and ready for your enjoyment! Red Sky is a traditional Red Ale, featuring a touch of roast to complement the notes of caramel and toffee. Kicking it up a notch are the locally-grown Willamette hops from Wicked Hops Farm in Stewiacke. Brewed by, with, and in honour of fellow bad-ass women knocking down walls and ceilings in traditionally male-dominated professions, Red Sky is available at the taproom for pints, samples, and growlers.

PEI Brewing Co. is playing around with Brettanomyces again, with their latest beer, Wild Intentions: Kettle Sour. After souring with Lactobacillus, a Brett yeast strain was used to ferment the wort, giving the final beer pineapple and pear aromas. At 5% ABV and 14 IBUs, it’s tasting “dry and sessionable, with a slight sourness”. You can find it now at the PEIBC taproom and Gahan Beer Store; it should be following at Gahan House locations, PEILCC stores, and select ANBL locations next week.

The “tiny brewery that can” in the heart of downtown Halifax is back at it with another release today. Tidehouse Brewing is releasing a unique take on the hazy IPA style, by adding citrus green tea from nearby World Tea House. Green Cosmos was lovingly hopped with Amarillo, Idaho 7, and Cascade, enough to get you excited, but not so much as to drown out the tea. Expect a dry finish and the lovely notes of tea to come through. Their retail shop is open from 2 PM today and tomorrow, and if you visit early you will be able to snag some cans of Porchlight too. Keep your eyes peeled for a return of some old favourites next week, as they look back on their 4 years in business and re-release some bangers! 

Next Saturday in Halifax you’ll have a chance to experience the launch of the latest jam from the Change Is Brewing Collective of BIPOC individuals working to bring positive change in terms of diversity and inclusion to the brewing industry. This time they’ve collaborated with Halifax’s 2 Crows to produce a beer they’re calling Good News. A Berliner weiße fruited with raspberry and mango, this 3.1% ABV beer started with Pilsner and both malted and unmalted wheat in the tun before being soured with Lactobacillus plantarum and then fermented with a super fruity strain of the famed Scandinavian Kveik yeast. Conditioning took place, in typical 2 Crows style, on a huge amount of fruit: 950 lbs of raspberry and 725 lbs of mango, before the final touch was added, namely a light dry-hopping with Enigma and Huell Melon. The result is described as, “super jammy, super fruity, and super fun!” Your first chance to try this beer will be at a BIPOC Makers Market next Saturday, October 24th, from 12 – 4 PM, followed by a Food Pop-up featuring Hibiscus Specialty from 4 – 6 PM, and a spoken word poetry session by Deirdre Lee from 7 – 7:30 PM. Sounds to us like a full afternoon and evening celebrating diversity and drinking great beer!

What’s on the go in the near future? Here’s a few things bubbling up soon!

Charlottetown’s HopYard Beer Bar has a few tap takeover weekends planned in the next month, with Fredericton’s Grimross Brewing taking over the taps on the weekend of October 23 & 24th, with ten different options flowing. And HopYard will be doing double duty as they welcome Darmtouth’s North Brewing to the Island November 6th and 7th, as well as see the launch of Dough Boy Industries, with their pop-up pizza oven on the go all weekend. Keep an eye here, and on everyone’s social media, for tap/topping lists. 😉

If you happen to be hanging around Sheet Harbour, NS at all over the next couple of months, we should pass on that Sober Island Brewing will be hosting a series of Brewers Dinners, with the first starting next Saturday, October 24th. Each will consist of a 3-course meal, with each course being paired with a Sober Island brew. The food includes chowder with buttermilk biscuit and molasses beer butter, Thai chili-breaded chicken wings w/ Asian slaw, and Chocolate Stout cake. As well, head brewer Tim will be on-site to introduce each beer and food item, as well as to answer any questions you may have about the beers or general brewing process. A maximum of 20 guests for each event will be allowed in order to comply with distancing restrictions; the other dates are November 14th, November 20th, and December 11th. Tickets are $40 each (they recommend booking in groups of 4, if possible), and can be reserved by phoning 902-885-2072, or heading directly to the taproom. 

Speaking of Sober Island, they will be the host of this year’s Cask in the Sticks event, being held November 7th. They have invited a handful of breweries from across the province, as well as homebrewer David Pepper, to prep a pin of their favourite beer. You’ll be able to sip the good stuff from Big Spruce, Harbour Brewing, Lunns Mill, Tatamagouche, Uncle Leo’s, and maybe even a couple more! Your ticket gets you your first pours, a toque, and live music. Food will also be available for sale, and all proceeds will be going to a local non-profit organization. Call the brewery to grab your ticket for either the 1 – 3 or 4 – 6 PM session (or both!). Those loveable beer grumps from the 902 BrewCast will be onsite judging the onesie competition, so be sure to come dressed to impress!

Of course the Oktoberfest events continue, with Montague’s Bogside Brewing holding theirs next Saturday, October 24th. The “Oktobeer Fest” will be held from 2-5 pm, and will feature a German food menu, happy hour beer prices, and live music. You already know they are killing it with German-inspired beer, with their Lighthorse Kolsch and North Lake Lager, and their Shoreline Smash Dunkel is back on tap just in time. Oktoberfest in Atlantic Canada is definitely winding down, so this may be your last chance to partake in all the fun… and really, who can say no to Oompah music? We dare thee.

Friend of good beer Old Road BBQ in Truro has adjusted their fall hours to be open 12 – 9 PM Friday and Saturday, and have music in the taproom or on the patio almost every night. They are gearing up for a big event on October 31st, with Willie Stratton celebrating the end of patio season with a big bash. Tickets for the evening are just $10, or for those visiting from out of town, a killer deal on a room at the nearby Inn on Price hotel and a pair of tickets is just $100. Further, those who take advantage of this package will be entered in a draw for a massive platter fit for two (or more) to enjoy that evening, including beers! Details on the entertainment tickets, and hotel package, are available here.

And for those looking for some tasty Bar-B-Q, beer, and live music in Halifax should drop by Murphy’s On The Water October 29th, with Them Other Johns providing the live music, and Dartmouth’s New Scotland Brewing providing the beers. Details and tickets available on the NSBC Events page. Lastly on the BBQ front, for those looking to enjoy some BBQ for lunch, Old Road has been catering for businesses since they’ve opened, but are now offering a Thursday lunch option, starting October 22nd. Gather up the crew (10 order minimum), and fire them an email before Tuesday night to get on the list! More details here and via email.

We’ve got a little about a lot more beers today, enjoy!

Bad Apple Brewhouse has a new, funky pear and apple cider joining their repertoire. Pearadise of Funk was brewed with Brettanomyces yeast, as well as Pediococcus and Lactobacillus bacteria, making it “light, effervescent, and wildly unique”. Available right now at the brewery.  

Speaking of cider, Meander River has a new one of their own, from their Small Lot Cider series. Strawberry Basil is a cider made with… we’re pretty sure you can take a good guess at which two ingredients are extra special in this one! Available on tap at the brewery, as well as in bottles.

Tusket Falls Brewing have scaled up Woke Up Quick, a 7.5% ABV Brown Porter brewed with smoked malt, lactose powder, cold brew coffee, Madagascar vanilla beans, and cocoa nibs to a full, 20 BBL batch, since it was so popular when it was first released. This time around it’s available in cans, starting today.

Quidi Vidi has a brand new one-off available at the brewery – Sour Kveik (4.7% ABV) was fermented with the Laerdal Kveik strain, and has “a complex and pleasant sourness, with lemon, passion fruit, and honeydew flavours” as a result, with a touch of honey-like sweetness to balance the tartness. Also available for online orders.

And speaking of Newfoundland and Labrador Craft Breweries, they received some great news this week, when the provincial government announced that they were increasing discounts on the commission paid to the NLC. The discount is increased to 95% on the first 100,000 litres of product, which wholly encompasses the production of 15 of the 19 craft breweries in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is expected to save the industry more than $1 Million dollars annually. And in doubly good news, the commission/markup collected will be the same whether the beer is sold at the brewery, NLC, or convenience stores. Both of these steps mean more money staying with the breweries to fuel hiring, expansion, improved distribution, and countless other improvements. There’s a good article from CBC outlining some of the real-world numbers. Good on the province and the NLC to recognize their role is not only to regulate the sale and production of alcohol, but to promote businesses to thrive and improve the economy for all. With small independent beer accounting for less than 5 percent of overall sales, there’s plenty of room for growth in Newfoundland and Labrador beer!