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.
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.
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!