Nova Scotia’s small communities are exploding with microbreweries. Liverpool is one of many small towns to benefit from this boom. Melanie Perron and Mark Baillie opened Hell Bay Brewing Company in 2011. When asked what she thought Hell Bay’s contribution had been in her community, Melanie said: “A new café is opening across the street from here called The Dancing Chicken. I feel the presence of Hell Bay has given new entrepreneurs the courage to open a new business in a small town.”
Lane’s Privateer Inn supported Hell Bay Company’s endeavours by being the first company to sell their beers. Susan Lane, one of the three siblings managing the Inn, says “Hell Bay has attracted many folks following the Good Cheer Trail [a Nova Scotian attraction allowing participants to visit and try recipes from 35 different wineries and breweries],” and it has attracted food and beer lovers from around the world. The ability to blend local foods and brews has expanded the Inn’s popularity, supporting the family in other small businesses, including a book store and a gourmet shop.
Two hours north of Liverpool, Seal Level Brewing blossoms in Port Williams. The idea began in Randy Lawrence’s basement as a passion project but, twenty years later, he runs his own business with the help of community members and friends. Randy’s products are 100 per cent local, and his brewing company has its own half-acre hops field in the Annapolis Valley. The Port Pub is connected to Sea Level, and they function together as a sought-after tourist attraction. Shareholders of the pub are all local, meaning the financial gain from the pub and brewery always goes back into the community they serve.
Jessica Cherry, the front-end manager at the Pub, says that having a microbrewery in Port Williams has strengthened their community. With the craft brewing industry growing in Nova Scotia, they have seen an increase in both the local community members and tourists coming to enjoy craft beer. Sea Level Brewery has also worked with Propeller in Halifax to develop a beer called Alpha % Dog.
This collaborative beer is made completely of locally grown hops: Cascade and Willamette from Lazy Acres in Wolfville, and Sea Level’s own hops from their farm. Sea Level’s farm offers opportunities to local workers, and also encourages the education and industrial growth of other microbreweries. The jobs the farm offers encourage the interest of youth, who have the potential to be the next great brew masters. It also instills a sense of identity and pride in being Nova Scotian. The benefit of growing local hops is also environmental. Recent studies have shown that hops contain a genetic benefit to honey bees through beta acids. These acids are shown to fight some types of mites that infect and reduce numbers in their colonies, numbers which have already been declining at an alarming rate.
Across the province, Christiane Jost is an owner and the manager of the newly opened Tatamagouche Brewery, housed in a converted old butchery on Tatamagouche’s main thoroughfare. She admitted they could have bought a piece of property on the outskirts of town where there would be more space, but she knew that being in the heart of the town would be beneficial. Close proximity to many of the essential shops in the town has made Tatamagouche Brewery a part of the daily routine for locals and has drawn tourists who saw many other shops surrounding the brewery that they otherwise would have missed.
The support the brewery showed for their community in Kraft’s Hockeyville contest shows the pride they take in their town. Locally known as “Tata Brew,” the brewery has drawn people into local businesses and its great logo and unusual names provide a great conversation piece for visitors. The Train Station Inn, known as one of the top tourist destinations in the area, says that the Tatamagouche Brewing Company filled a void in their community. Janette Thompson, the food and beverage manager at the Inn, says that the last few years have seen an increase in demand for locally crafted and sourced products in the Railway Dining Car. By offering fresh, organic, locally crafted beer, their beverage sales have seen a significant increase.
Tata Brew’s logo, a two-headed calf, is based on a tale told of the arrival of a calf with two heads arriving into town. It was said to be looking both behind and ahead of itself, which is something Tatamagouche Brewery embraces. They recognize the importance of never forgetting the history of their town and family, but also strive to be successful and to grow in the community. The company thrives by offering locally grown hops and using water from the state-of-the-art filtration system the town depends on. The filtration is tweaked to alter the taste in order to perfect the beer recipe it is going into.
Because of its importance in their process, the water treatment plant not only has to remain in functioning order, but needs to be consistently monitored. The benefit of having a microbrewery in a community is far more than just attracting tourists. It encourages a sense of local pride, offers job opportunities and when the option to grow crops is available, it helps with the healthy growth of local insect populations. Microbreweries are the next step in turning a community into a family.