The Microbrewery Community

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Uncle Leo’s Brewery in Lyons Brook, NS.

From my short time in the microbrewing community, I am blown away by the warm reception from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island’s microbreweries. The general goal seems to have the microbrewery industry grow which is a relief and a great environment to be a part of.

We visualize our brewery as a community brewery, mainly providing good, fresh, all-natural beer to the Tatamagouche community, and surrounding area, which other microbreweries are also doing in Nova Scotia.

Uncle Leo’s opened earlier this summer and is located in Lyons Brook, Nova Scotia! Owners Carl and Rebecca Whiffen have been a great resource, and have had tremendous success thus far! I had the chance to meet them briefly at this year’s Seaport Beer Fest, and it was a pleasure to see a brand new brewery doing so well at the Beerfest! Just a few weeks ago, I was able to spend a day with Carl and Rebecca at their brewery and had the chance to see how they operate their brewery.. the day ended with sampling their brand new Smoked Porter… not a bad deal!

While accompanying my father to the Seaport Beer Fest it was intriguing to see a new side of him. In the past, while accompanying him to Wine Symposiums or shows, he was approached by other wineries, asking questions, or his thoughts on ideas. He received phone calls and made visits to new vineyards and wineries, offering support and advice whenever possible. Now the tables have turned, and I don’t think he minds. We are approaching microbreweries within the Maritimes to watch them brew, see their cellars and brewhouses, ask advice and anything else we can think of. Luckily everyone has been very open and has the mentality “don’t make the mistake we did”.

I have seen the acceptance of new microbreweries to the beer world first hand. This spring I spent 6 days at Propeller Brewery, where I was able to be a part of several brews, getting a taste of filtration, bottling, and fermenting! It was a great experience and everyone was very friendly and informative! It also got me into the hoppier beer, I love the Propeller IPA, and the Double IPA. The guys who I worked with told me I had to be able to drink the Double IPA with a straight face if I was going to be in the beer world.. I did that and more.. I love it!! I guess I am a brewster AND a hophead in training now !!!

Earlier this week I had another opportunity to experience a day in a Nova Scotia microbrewery – Sea Level Brewing Company! Sea Level opened in 2007 and is located in the Annapolis Valley, in Port Williams, along side a super tasty pub – The Port Pub (try the lobster poutine if you have a chance…  to.die.for). Brewing with Randy was a great time, he was trying out his pumpkin beer “recipe” for the first time, and we worked amongst the smell of 800 litres of pumpkin pie. It was a unique experience brewing with Randy because of his extensive work in the brewing world. He has been brewing since 1994 in various microbreweries and brewpubs throughout Nova Scotia. When he is brewing it is all still technical of course, but done with such an ease and a gentle approach. Throughout the day he gave me many tips of the trade, and quite a few laughs. I can’t wait to get back there after my Chicago course to try his new Pumpkin Ale, and get another brew in hopefully!

I look forward to continue learning with the ever growing and entertaining microbrewery community!

Cheers!!

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Randy adding honey into his pumpkin beer! Smelled so good..mmmm!

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Sea Level Brewing Company in Port Williams, NS.

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What’s in a Name? – The Tatamagouche Brewster

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Everyone has been filled on the little hidden gem that is Tatamagouche from my last post, making it a fairly clear addition to the name of my blog with it being the location of our brewery and all, but what is a brewster and even more importantly, what is a microbrewery?!

microbrewery or craft brewery is a brewery that  produces smaller amounts of beer (compared to the large breweries), generally producing under 10,000 barrels (1.17 million litres) per year. Microbreweries generally distribute their beer within a limited geographic region. It is the norm for microbreweries to produce the un-norm beers, compared to large brand name breweries, focusing on specific styles of beer and have the ability to be creative with different styles and names.

The main focus of craft breweries is to provide customers with a superior product, using traditional (and perhaps non traditional) brewing techniques. Because the batches are much smaller than larger breweries, there is a flexibility, and creative aspect to microbreweries…you never know what seasonal brew could come from your favourite craft brewery.

The craft beer industry is growing tremendously in North America, as it is throughout most of the world. According to Agriculture and Agri-food Canada’s Report, The Canadian Brewery Industry, Canada has an estimated ten million beer drinkers and an estimated 21.9 million hectoliters produced annually, making it the number one alcoholic beverage in Canada in both production and consumption.

Nova Scotia has had a microbrewery presence since 1985, beginning with Granite Brewery, and then with Propeller Brewing and Garrison Brewery joining not long after. There are now 12 microbreweries (not including ours or others on the way) in the province, as well as four brewpubs. Keep your eye out next week for my next blog post on my experiences so far in local breweries – so far, SO good!

A brewster is a common term for a female brewer, stemming from Medieval times, although it is a term not only limited to women in recent times. The brewing industry has been considered a “man’s world” for a significant amount of time, as the majority of the alcohol world is, but it was not always this way, and most likely will not always be this way.

It is thought that “It was actually a German nun who discovered that adding hops to beer would help to preserve it and give it a longer shelf life, which led to beer being developed on a more industrial scale instead of being brewed on a daily basis by individual brewsters in their homes. When the process was taken into the factories, women began to be excluded from the industry” (Sara Barton).

How appropriate.. I may not be a nun, but I am German!

There are more and more women taking charge and joining the beer world again. For example, there was a woman’s beer group – Ladies Beer League, launched in Halifax, this summer, making it Halifax’s first women’s centred beer group (founded by women brewers), which has been received with much popularity and publicity. In a thriving microbrewery city like Halifax it only makes sense! …Maybe I’ll have to start a similar, smaller scale one up for us Colchester and Cumberland County ladies in the future 😉

While I have yet to brew my own batch of beer yet, I am taking a few liberties naming the blog Tatamagouche Brewster. However I am spending my days learning the art of craft brewing. I have been spending time in Nova Scotian craft breweries, shadowing brewers, and reading as much as I can. In two weeks I am heading to Chicago the Concise Course in Brewing Technology, at the Siebel Institute of Technology. I have a lot to learn, but have been enjoying the beer world, and hope I make the beer world proud – especially the women who have been paving the way for “brewsters” like myself!

Cheers!

P.S. If you find yourself in Uncle Leo‘s neck of the woods (Lyons Brook, NS) be sure to try their Smoked Porter before it sells out! I got the chance to try it on Friday and it is the perfect beer to warm you up on these chilly fall nights! And bonus, it smells kind of like a campfire!

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