Nova Scotia hosts more than 30 craft brewers — almost all of whom are part of the Craft Brewers Association. Within this large community are four breweries on the South Shore of Nova Scotia which can’t be overlooked: FirkinStein Brewing Inc. (Bridgewater), Hell Bay (Liverpool), and Boxing Rock (Shelburne) and the most recent, Saltbox Brewing (Mahone Bay). All three take great pride in their small communities and appreciate their personal histories.
Co-owner of FirkinStein, Devin Fraser, revealed that there was a delay in opening the new brewery because they wanted to be 100 per cent satisfied with their product before releasing it to their community. When asked about the delay, Fraser said “The first few brews weren’t awesome by any means. The whole thing was a fight from the beginning.” But they successfully released their Nor’Easter Amber Ale in September of last year, and never looked back.
They built their system from scratch, using materials often used in farming, including dairy tanks. They had heard of breweries in South Carolina using these tanks, as they were designed to regulate temperature, a necessity for brewing. “We both had the skills to do it,” Fraser said of himself and his co-owner, Adam Sarty. Both Fraser and Sarty are technicians at Michelin Tire, so why not create their own version of Frankenstein’s monster in their own neighbourhood?
Further south, Hell Bay Brewing Co. continues to thrive. Opened just five years ago in a small part of a 150-year-old barn, the company initially only produced 60 litres a week. Today, their output is almost 600 per cent that amount at 3,500 litres each week. Melanie Perron and Mark Baillie opened the brewery together. Perron takes pride in the fact that Hell Bay has given aspiring entrepreneurs the courage to open their own companies in their small town.
Lane’s Privateer Inn supported Hell Bay’s endeavours by being the first company to sell their beers. Susan Lane, one of three siblings managing the Inn, said that “Hell Bay had attracted many folks following the Good Cheer Trail [the 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. They were surprised by how quickly the brand took off, and were unprepared to keep up demand upon opening. Their staple beers at the moment are their Pale Ale and English Ale.
Boxing Rock lies even further south, and is regarded as one of the first local breweries to really start a drink local beer buzz in rural communities. Their company opened in 2012. Emily Tipton, one of the co-founders of the brewery, is an engineer who wanted to employ herself in Shelburne, a small town she first came to love while on her honeymoon in 2004. Having lived there since 2007, she said the “market at the time was not as crazy,” so starting a brewing company was still novel. Tipton said they wanted “Shelburne to be a part of the brewery” because she loves the beauty of the surrounding land. Their small company, having started with just Emily and her co-owner, Henry Pedro, now employs over a dozen local workers.
Agreeing with Devin Fraser’s words, Tipton said that “the market doesn’t seem to be competitive. We’re not really seeing it as a detriment. Big beer companies are our competition.
The Craft Brewers Association employs more than Oland Brewery does — something few Nova Scotians realize. More than half of the members are outside of the main city of Halifax, and they all take pride in their community of craft brewers in a market that is always open and excited for questions and new flavours. The South Shore lends its self to the specialized flavours of its beers — because beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder.