Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2016 Maritime Craft Beer Outlook

Last year I tried my hand at prognosticating what 2015 would bring in beer to out little corner of the world. Of course I was bang on, and by bang on I mean no where close. Well I got some of it right but a lot of brewers are very secretive, what I will let you in on is anything I know. Full disclosure, I do this for fun and it is very import to me that the brewers trust me so some have asked me to "hold back" on some information giving only generalities rather than specifics which I will comply with. 

In talking to brewers, 2016 will be another be another year of excitement. Look for more barrel-aging programs, collaborations, and of course a lot more beer. 

Prince Edward Island

Upstreet Craft Brewing opened last year and has done extremely well. They opened their doors, their beer made it into bottles, entered PEILCC and successfully entered Nova Scotia this year. When I had a chance to ask about further expansion and in particular New Brunswick, they said further expansion will be looked at this year but when and only when they have the capacity.

PEI Brewing Company says they have a full calendar of seasonals planned for this year, the most they’ve ever done, including an imperial stout, saison and other new varieties they haven’t brewed before. Look for more expansion into New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the west, they are currently available in PEI, NS, NB, AB, SK and NWT.

Moth Lane Brewing announced it is opening a 7-barrel brewing facility on the shore front located along the Conway Narrows in West Prince. To be more precise off of Route 174 Murray Road on a road nicknamed for the brewers father (Moth Lane) or Mickie Allen Shore Road. The building is currently being renovated with the brewing equipment landing around March. With any luck Islanders will be enjoying new beer by next summer.

One more project in the Charlottetown area will see another new brewery opening this year. Although the brewer asked me not to release details at this time it is clear that there will be lots of great beer in PEI in 2016.

Northern New Brunswick

Savoie's Brewhouse and Distillerie Fils du Roy are being joined in by a new brewery in Tracadie-Shelia. L'Association CoopĂ©rative Microbrasserie have hired a brewmaster, Jason HachĂ©, who brewed at Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault late last year. The brewery will be 10 BBL in size and the gear will be arriving in May. The name and other details will be forthcoming. 

Saint John River North

Big Axe Brewing had a great year with a lot new beers, opening the Taproom in June 2015 and hiring their first full-time employee who is their new Brewing Assistant, Krystle Ford. They also say there are many surprises in store for 2016.

Railcar Brewing is going to have an extremely busy year. They have recently doubled their draught handles. There is now four permanent Railcar Taps, two River Valley Micro Taps for Growler fills. They also have six additional craft beer/cider taps for in house pint consumption.
They are also installing a new bottle and growler washer and doing some upgrades to the the brewing system. They are putting in an additional stainless steel work station for our bottling station. A cooler is being put in next to the Growler Fill window for sales of 500 ml bottles for off site consumption. Railcar currently have seven labels approved and three are now listed for sale at ANBL.
New fermentors are on order to replace the current plastic ones they are using expect them to arrive this winter.
No stranger to fighting to change regulations Railcar has officially worked out the process with Excise Canada and the New Brunswick Department of Public Safety for contract brewing. Al Bannister from Woodstock will be brewing his ales under the name River Valley Micro on their system. They are now in the process of getting him keg listings at ANBL so he can have tap listings in NB. This will be the first official agreement in the province for contract brewing and has been the result of four months of work. But the stage is set and NB can now have breweries in place that may not have a physical home, this will allow more startups to ease into production and eventually find their own permanent locations.
The big news of all is that they are currently looking for a second location in Woodstock. It will house a small brew space with their current 1.5 BBL system and will build a new 3 BBL system for the Bristol spot.

Fredericton and Area

The Fredericton craft beer scene is extremely exciting and hedging to be the best in Atlantic Canada. The six breweries in the city limits and Oromocto are new or growing. Maybee BrewingHalf Cut Brewing and Johnny Jacks Brewery opened in 2015 adding own style to the area. 

Picaroons Traditional Ales are moving to a new facility on Union Street in the Devon area from their crowded Melissa Street facility. They are redeveloping the old Gibson Roundhouse building and will contain the brewery's main operations and head office. I believe this move will open a lot of avenues to Picaroons.

Grimross Brewing who have been in their own brewery for a little over a year now have been extremely active. In less than a year they have increased their fermentation capacity by 67% with the purchase of two new fermenters from DME. The Brewtique Taproom music scene has really taken off with live acts playing regularly. They hired a new brewer who is a recent graduate from Niagara College Brewmaster Program to help Steve Dixon, who until now was making all the beer. Lastly they are having their canning system commissioned and will be putting cans in ANBL this year. 

Trail Way Brewing are expanding operations to a 10 BBL Steam Fired Brewing System from PEI's DME Brewing Solutions this year. Plans are to open the new facility at 280 Main Street in the Spring and will include a brewhouse, retail space and a tasting room.

Mama's Pub will be brewing their own beers very soon at its location on 500 Brookside Drive. They are working on three beers to start with one being a very approachable American style pale ale, another a session IPA, and finally a brown ale. 

Finally, this summer will see Gray Stone Brewing opening their 10 BBL brewhouse in which they will be creating american ales. Their currently renovating the property at 221 King Street in downtown Fredericton. 

Southern New Brunswick 

This area has been very quiet with the exception of First City Brewery opening this year. 

Hammond River Brewing had hoped to move to a commercial space in 2015 and still hopes to. Keep an eye on this brewery, his beers are too good to keep from larger scale production.

There is one more project to look for, although I can't go into details a large craft brewery will open in the Lower Kennebecasis River valley in the 7 to 10 BBL range this year.

Southeast New Brunswick

Moncton area craft beer scene saw Flying Boats Brewing and Bore City Brewing open this year bring craft brewers in the area to five.

This year will see Acadie-Broue moving to a new location and a new nanobreweries Beckwith Road Brewing and AWOL Brewery will start operations in the Moncton area. 

Cape Breton

Big Spruce Brewing has added a two head automatic filler and crowner from HDP. They have already put out their Ra Ra Rasputin and look for 650ml bombers to start in the first quarter. Also for Big Spruce it is rumored to be planning a substantial expansion for 2016.

Northern and Eastern Nova Scotia

At Rare Bird Craft Beer they completed a eight million dollar expansion in 2015. It will be interesting what happens with the new capacity.

Tatamagouche Brewing is working on the facilities for capacity and visitors. They are joining the two buildings they currently have, upstairs will a social area with more room to browse around, bigger tasting area, and easier access for beer pick up. They are also adding a small patio to enjoy. Underneath the library they are adding a 110 hl fermenter to keep up with demand in the summer time. as well as increasing the size of two other fermenters. They changed Deception bay IPA to a full time beer and will be adding to the Giant Beer Series this year. Lastly they will be continuing with North Shore Lagered Ale at the NSLC and hopefully adding another listing of single cans.

Coming to Truro is High Tide Brewing this year. The current plan is to open a 15 BBL brewery and is currently working through paperwork. 

Nova Scotia South Shore 

Last year say Boxing Rock Brewing significantly increased its fermenters and added an extension to their building. This should make supply of core brands stable and allow for mor seasonals, or at least I hope. Hell Bay Brewing obtained a new bottling machine which we are seeing the results by its availability in the NSLC. Lastly Firkinstein Brewing opened its doors in the Bridgewater area with their strong ales. 

New brewery opening this year is Saltbox Brewing, building a 10 BBL brewhouse and intends to sell kegs, growlers, grunters and bottles at 363 Main Street in Mahone Bay. 
Annapolis Valley to Digby 

Paddy's Brewpub is building a new production brewery in Windsor. This new facility will do the bulk of Paddy's beer production with the current brewery in Wolfville doing special projects.

Wayfarers' Ale will be opening in Port Williams this summer with the completion of a new brewery building on the Cornwallis river.  They will be brewing up to ten different beers and lagers on a 20 BBL system.

Lazy Bear Brewing is opening a 3 BBL operation in Smith's Cove, NS this summer. They will be making English and American Ales with initial sales from growlers at the brewery and at the farmers market in Annapolis Royal.

Roof Hound Brewing revealed it is opening a reported 7 BBL operation in Hillgrove, Digby County. The brewery will also include a 40-seat restaurant serving up pub food. They hope to have 10 taps which will have an IPA, brown ale, amber ale with rye, as well as seasonal and experimental beers.

Halifax Regional Municipality 

Last year was an incredible year for HRM with the opening of four new breweries and big expansions at three others.

Dartmouth area came to life with Spindrift opening and North Brewing's opening a second location. This  year will see the opening of Nine Locks Brewing in its impressive new space on the Waverley Road next to the Mic Mac Tavern. Nine locks will be initially brewing four beer styles: an IPA, an Extra Special Bitter, a Porter and a blonde.  Watch for them in the NSLC as well this spring in singles for ESB, singles and 4 packs for IPA. Two other projects are Downeast Beer Factory brewpub on Windmill Road in the old Brewdebakers location and a new 1 BBL operation opening this summer in the downtown area.

In downtown Halifax there is a large production brewery hoping to open later this year, look for announcements coming in the next couple of months. Olands will brewing small batch beer again in the old Keiths brewery property on Lower Water Street starting in April. 

North of the city there are two new breweries looking to open in the Elmsdale, Enfield and/or Mount Uniacke areas. Lastly a very exciting project on the Eastern Shore is starting up. The project hopes to come to fruition in 2017 as a destination brewery that promotes local products and eco-tourism. This year they will be brewing in a temporary location until the brewery is built next year.

That is all I currently have, enjoy the 2016 beer year.