New Brunswick

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Red Rover Banner

There’s another new craft brewery in the works for New Brunswick! However, this one will differ significantly from the other start-ups in the area – Red Rover Brewing Company will be brewing cider. Owned by Adam Clawson and Nicola Mason, both originally from Leeds, England, Red Rover ciders should be available to the public by late 2013/early 2014. Adam and Nicola plan on opening their cidery in the Fredericton area. I recently met with Adam and Nicola to find out more about their plans for Red Rover.

Can you tell me about how this all started for you? With so many new beer breweries popping up, what gave you the idea of brewing cider professionally?

We grew up with a great selection of ciders and beer and were excited to see what would be on offer in Atlantic Canada. When we arrived in Fredericton five years ago, we discovered a number of really tasty craft beers, but couldn’t find any cider. Once we began to brew our own and started to share it with friends we realized that we weren’t the only ones who missed being able to order a pint of cider at the bar. Those people and others who were new to the drink showed great enthusiasm for it – that was what finally encouraged us to try and brew it professionally.

Do you have a history of homebrewing beer and/or cider?

Yes, we have been brewing both cider and beer for a number of years. Our favorite home-brewed beers are IPAs and Stouts, and we enjoy the challenge of making different types of cider. Although styles have changed slightly as we move from a homebrew to professional setup, the concept has stayed the same: producing a great craft beverage from local, fresh-pressed juice.

What types of cider do you plan on brewing/distributing, and can you tell me a little about them?

We will eventually be releasing three main styles. They are yet to be officially named, but they are brewed to complement three of the four seasons: Spring, Summer and Fall. With the spring comes a fresh, crisp feel in the air; this is reflected in the sweet, crisp flavor of the first cider. Our second cider is dry, fruity and refreshing – perfect for a hot summer’s day. As the season changes, our final style is brewed with spices to warm on the cool fall evenings. We haven’t forgotten about winter and have something extra-special in the works. In addition to regular batches, we plan to produce a series of one-off releases throughout the year, incorporating other seasonal fruits.

What are your plans for distribution?

For the first year, we plan to be distributing in kegs only, at local restaurants and bars. We’ll be brewing two 500 litre batches per month, and probably concentrate on one or two types (sweet cider and dry cider) for the first while. We already have some restaurants/bars confirmed to carry the product, with others definitely interested… it’ll probably be around ten spots that will be serving our ciders for the first year.

Where will you be sourcing your apples?

All of our apples will come from orchards in the Saint John River Valley. As we have gone through the process of planning our business, it has always been clear that we wish to be a local business supporting local growers.

What are some of your favorite apple varieties to use in cider?

The best cider is brewed using more than one apple; we like the golden colours that Macs add to the blend. It’s also important to balance sweet with sharp, so we sometime include a tangy variety called Paula Red.

Have any local brewers helped in the process of getting started?

Yes, Sean Dunbar [of Picaroons] has been a great supporter from the start, with all the aspects of the tangled web that is alcohol production in the Maritimes.

Do you currently have a location for your cidery?

We have been searching for the last year to find a suitable location. We intend to eventually have a property that reflects our local, quality product, such as a heritage building or Dutch barn.

What type of brewing equipment do you plan on having initially?

We intend on having a Spidel hydropress and associated crusher for extracting the juice, and also up to 20 1kL storage vessels for pre-fermented juice, along with an additional five 0.5kL fermenting and racking conical vessels.

Cider brewing generally takes longer to result in a finished product than most beer styles. For your regular-release styles that you plan on releasing, roughly how long will this take per batch?

From juice to lips, the process takes about 2-3 months to mature to a fuller flavour. We will be releasing it at this period, although it is possible to mature it for up to a year or more. Within the next few years, we hope to be producing limited batches which have been matured for 6-12 months.

From whom have you learned the most in respect to brewing?

In terms of general production, Sean Dunbar created the craft scene in Fredericton and we’re glad to be able to learn from that. In terms of cider production specifically, one name above all others comes to mind: Andrew Lea. A retired research scientist who spent the majority of his career studying most aspects of cider, his work has been invaluable to the new generation of cider makers.

You had several free tasting sessions in 2012. Will these continue in 2013, and if so, how does one attend them?

We are currently maturing our first large-scale batch for tastings to be held throughout the summer. The best way to attend a session is to sign up to the mailing list on the website.

What will make Red Rover different from other breweries?

We don’t do Beer! 🙂 But, in all seriousness, our product will be produced from 100% NB ingredients, will be gluten-free, and be able to be enjoyed by both beer and non-beer drinkers alike.

I notice that you list Red Rover as a “microbrewery”, and not a cidery. Do you have any plans to expand beyond cider?

Not for now. 😉

Are you planning any fundraisers or merchandise sales to help generate income for the brewery?

Very soon people will be able to become a supporter of the brewery; this involves a special choice of t-shirts tailored to the local area. There will also be other items available for purchase, including some more unconventional swag… but people will have to check the website in the coming months.

We’re looking forward to when Red Rover ciders will be available at local bars and restaurants in the area, and wish Adam and Nicola the best of luck with the rest of the start-up process! We will continue to post updates on their progress. Also, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up on their mailing list to be informed of upcoming tasting sessions.


Railcar Brewing Company Finalize 2013

Good news for New Brunswick craft beer lovers! A new nano-brewery is in the works to open in the Florenceville-Bristol area, hopefully by the end of this year or early 2014. It looks like the brewery will be housed in Railcar 3 at the Shogomoc Train site. Mitch Biggar, owner/brewmaster of Railcar Brewing, is currently going through the many stages required to get a brewery up and running in New Brunswick. I exchanged emails with Mitch recently to get some information on his plans for the brewery…

Could you give me a bit of background about how this all got started?

This all started about 2 years and 1600 hrs ago. I was working in Fredericton at the time and my wife had a Paint Your Own Pottery Shop in Woodstock. She was travelling back and forth and I had an opportunity to take a job at McCains in Florenceville. So we moved her business from Woodstock to Florenceville and moved ourselves as well, to eliminate travelling.

I grew up in this area and when I was in grade 9 I was actually a member in the Shogomoc Historical and Model Railroad Club. This club was the club that got the cars into Bristol and started work on restoring them.

After graduation from high school, I always had a thought that when I did move back I would like to have a business in one of those cars. So as soon as we moved back to the area I approached the Town and pitched my idea. During my time away the club had turned over the cars to the Town, and Fresh (ed. a gourmet restaurant in the area) had opened up as well.

Were you doing much homebrewing before you decided to go pro?

I have been home brewing for about 10 years and love all things craft beer related. I really started getting into pairings and started hosting tastings of my own. I am currently working on my Cicerone certification and am always offering to do tastings and pairings here locally.

What steps have you been taking to get everything started? Do you have any partners involved with Railcar Brewing?

Right now it’s just myself involved in the brewery, although I am entertaining taking a partner on. I have been building up gear over the last two years in preparation of opening. So far I have been doing  everything out of pocket and am looking at about $15,000 more in equipment costs to start up. One of the first things we did was come up with the name and logo and get our merchandise (hats, shirts, hoodies, glasses) made and have been selling that and reinvesting the monies right back into the business.

Tell me a bit about Rail Car Brewing’s initial beers. Are you planning on concentrating on a particular style, or styles of beer?

We will be offering three main lines year round. Shogomoc Stout, Boxcar Blonde and Railcar 3 Red. Also, we will have a 50 L batch monthly, called an “Off The Rail Ale”. So a pumpkin ale, blackberry mango wheat, ginseg tea wheat, etc. Something different to pique the taste buds.

What type of brewing system do you plan on using initially? How do you plan on distributing your beers?

We will be using an all-electric 50 L Braumeister system with six 60 Gallon fermenter tanks to launch with. We plan on “brewing small and selling it all”. At first we will just offer Growler and keg sales direct from the brewery as well as having local accounts featuring our ales.

Have you had any assistance with other breweries in the area through the whole process?

I have asked lots of questions of local breweries and this brewing community is so helpful. I have also used Facebook a ton to talk to other startups all over North America and England.

What will make Railcar Brewing different from other breweries in New Brunswick?

What makes Railcar Brewing different is that when we do tours we will be hands-on. So, visitors can grind some grain, or measure hops out for the boil, etc. We want to educate people on the brewing process and promote fresh local taste that Maritime brewies can offer. So when you leave at the end of a tour you understand what it takes to make beer and you can actually say, “I helped brew that!”

We also intend to try and recyle waste water for the Town to use for watering flower beds, offering our spent grains to farmers, and composting our hops. Green is very important to us so we will source locally as much as possible.

Any plans on having a tasting room at the beginning?

There will be a tasting room in the rail car with our merchandise area.

Do you personally have a favorite beer style? Brewery? Beer? Any hobbies outside of brewing?

My personal favorite beers are stouts and dark ales. Picaroons and Garrison have been my favorite breweries for years. Winter Warmer from Pics and the aged Fog Burner from Garrison.

I am a big history buff as well, and have one published book entitled, “New Brunswick Historical Tidbits”.

From whom have you learned the most in respect to brewing?

I wouldn’t say any one person. I have read a ton of books and talked to a lot of people and have learned a lot from trial and error over the years.

With your history of homebrewing, do you have a favorite beer to brew?

I have to say my favorite beer to make is my PDA, pumpkin dark ale. Love using the spices (nutmeg and cinnamon) and the fresh pumpkin.

Is there something specific that got you into the world of craft beer?

The taste got me interested, the taste is so much better then mass-produced beer, and the variations in style from one brewery to another is awesome.

Check out Mitch’s progress with his brewery on his Facebook site. Also, visit Railcar Brewing’s website (currently being updated) for some more information on their beers and pictures of their equipment. On the website, there is also the option to donate to assist in the final push for brewing equipment. Donate $30, and Mitch will mail a Railcar Brewing t-shirt to you!

If there’s anyone in Mitch’s area who would like to participate in his beer tastings, he has a separate Facebook page called Biggar Beer that you can use to contact him, or send an email to him directly at

We’re really looking forward to tasting the first beers from Railcar Brewing. It’s great to see another brewery opening up here in New Brunswick!

Rail Car 3, three years ago...

Rail Car 3, three years ago…

... and today, after a paint job

… and today, after a paint job

Mitch surveying the future brewery site.

Mitch surveying the future brewery site.