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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Goodbye Halifax… Helllooooooo Tatamagouche!

 

Today is a strange (understatement) and exciting day. For the first time in 18 years I am done school, for the first time I am starting something more than a summer job, and for the first time in 6 years I am living in Malagash full-time. Today I woke up in Malagash, and did the 15 minute drive to the microbrewery in Tatamagouche..the first of many, many more morning drives.

If you are wondering where and what Tatamagouche is.. you’ve been missing out. But have no fear, the Tatamagouche Brewster is here to introduce you to a sweet little town, with the entertaining name of Tatamagouche located on the Northumberland Strait.

The uniquely named Tatamagouche (pronounced tata-ma-goosh), or endearingly called by most, Tata, has a few meanings behind the name, the most popular meaning being derived from the native Mi’kmaq term Takumegooch, roughly translated as ‘meeting of the waters.’ A second popular meaning, which I have just recently heard, despite growing up 15 minutes from Tatamagouche, is a story of two men going hunting, and shooting at the same goose at the same time, in which they exclaimed: “Tat’s ma goose!” Whereever the name comes from, once you hear it.. its hard to forget it..and maybe to pronounce.

Tatamagouche is located on the Northumberland Strait in Colchester County, Nova Scotia. It is 50 kilometres north of Truro, and 50 kilometres west of Pictou. It is about a 2 hour drive from Halifax, and about 1 hour from Truro and Amherst. The village  is located along the south side of Tatamagouche Bay at the mouths of the French and Waugh Rivers, describing “the meeting of the waters.”

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Tatamagouche is a unique village, with the petite population of 752 (2011). The village has personality at every stop, making up for its small size population wise, with its character. For example, there is the Farmer’s Market, which many towns can boast, however the Tatamagouche Farmer’s Market brings in 25,000 visitors every season for its goods and produce alone, and in a town with a population of 750 people, that increase is definitely noticeable. The Farmer’s Market is located in the Tatamagouche Creamery Building (and surrounding it) at 41 Creamery Road.

The Tatamagouche Farmer’s Market is successful, in a town so small because of a long-time pride and belief held by the entire community, a belief that is becoming ever more popular, ‘Support Local.’ 

The village of Tatamagouche has been supporting it’s local providers and entrepreneurs for the entirety of its existence.

Tatamagouche is an ideal location due to its close knit atmosphere, and belief of supporting local, to open a community brewery. The brewery will be opening on Main Street in the building that was previously Huston’s Butcher Shop! If you keep your eyes open, I’m sure you will notice the many changes happening in that charming, little building!

Cheers!

If you are interested in learning more about Tatamagouche, and what it has to offer, I would recommend checking out Sandra Phinney’s recent Saltscape Magazine article!

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My new daily view isn’t bothering me!

Meet the Fam!

Hans Christian

HC

HC is the dreamer and brains behind the operation. Last year my mother and him sold our longtime family winery after 25 successful years. They enjoyed “retired life” for a total of five months before he told us his idea of a microbrewery in Tatamagouche! For the past year HC has been working on his vision, sharing with us his ideas, crazy and all!

Karen

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Karen, Mama Bear, is the brains behind the brains! She is the patient woman who has the balls to tell HC his ideas may be a little crazy. She has taken a liking to the hop fields, using her green thumb to make them the prettiest hops on the Hickey Branch.

Matina

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Matina is not just a pretty face, she has the smarts as well! She is going into her last year of Commerce at Saint Mary’s University and has been killing it! She has business and money sense and we can’t wait for her to graduate and join the rest of us!

A Whole New World

I am shocking myself, as well I’m sure the people who are reading this and know me (if people are reading this haha!), that I started a blog! And even more so – that it is on starting a microbrewery!

In 2012 I graduated from Mount Allison University, in Sackville New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Anthropology, and minoring in Socializing (however Geography is listed on my diploma). When I began studying Anthropology and Socializing, I had a difficult time understanding why I was studying them!  But true to the words “you can only connect the dots looking back”, I am slowly connecting the dots I had unknowingly laid out for myself.

I have written plenty, regurgitated even more during my studies for a Bachelor of Arts, but would never consider myself a writer! This will be another part of my journey!

I think that that this blog will be a great learning tool for me. Opening the brewery with my family will be the most hands on training I will have ever done, and it is not school related. There are no text books and lectures for this learning experience, which is why I think reflecting on what I’m learning on this blog will be helpful! So bare with me, and I hope you enjoy this learning process as well!

Celebrating my Mt.A graduation with my parentals!

Celebrating my Mt.A graduation with my parentals!

Well, Well, Well…

My sister and I in front of our beautiful Halifax apartment!

My sister and I in front of our beautiful Halifax apartment!

Here I am writing my first blog post, for my first blog which happens to be on my new adventure which happens to be a family microbrewery.

Who am I? … “Is this real life?”

In less than one month, I will be moving out of my charming Halifax apartment, into a room at a friend’s house for my last month of school and internship, marking the beginning of my Nomad Chapter. Darn 12 month leases and 13 month diploma programs.

Following the end of school and internship on October 1st, I will be heading home to Malagash and setting up Home Base in my parent’s cottage! While I am excited to be back in the country, steps from the ocean… and my parents fridge, I am also very nervous. I really never thought I’d be heading home to Malagash following my Public Relations diploma – I figured I’d have my sights on some moderately sassy PR job. It took 9 months of school in Halifax, the selling of a family winery, and the purchase of the future home of the Tatamagouche Brewing Company for me to have my ‘AH-HA’ moment! I am excited to spend time with my family, and especially to be a part of building a company from the ground up! I have a lot to learn business wise, but am up for the challenge and have a great teacher – my father, HC!

I figure I will be a nomad of sorts from the beginning of September until March-April of 2014 when there is an actual physical building for me to start working on. Until then my only plan is to learn as much as I can brewing wise, from whoever will teach me! I would love to get a week or two, or even a month or two at different breweries around the Maritimes – and hopefully even take a few courses in a few US cities (details hopefully to follow in a later post)!